Five at 8 – 9/1/09: The RNC’s self-report card


1) It’s been a year since the Republican National Convention, so Minneapolis – St. Paul have been navel gazing this week. Yesterday Jess Mador looked at the cases that still haven’t been settled by the courts. Today, MPR’s Tim Nelson has the story of the organizers claiming the convention was a better-than-expected economic boon to the cities. Hard to believe? Boy, howdy! The picture above was taken at noon one year ago in downtown Minneapolis. It was an indication that retail, at least, wasn’t going to get much business. The report even pats itself on the back for Civicfest, a business disaster that was supposed to draw tens of thousands of locals. It didn’t happen.

Much of the national media blew town at the start of the convention to go cover a hurricane, and most people (i.e. media) who were at both Denver (where the Democratic National Convention was held) and the Twin Cities, gave the Colorado location the nod.

Denver is also navel gazing this week. A report commissioned by that city is claiming only about half the economic impact on the hotel industry ($15m vs. $28.7m). But it claimed an economic impact more than twice what Minneapolis and St. Paul are claiming. But there’s skepticism, too, about the claims that since there’s no definitive math at work, the “unmeasurable” benefit must be positive.

In both cases, the reports come from the people who most benefit from a glowing report card. But a 2005 impact on political conventions from Holy Cross had an entirely different conclusion:

The presence of the Republican or the Democratic National Convention has no discernable impact on employment, personal income, or personal income per capita in the cities where the events were held confirming the results of other ex post analyses of mega-events.

Quick! Where was the Super Bowl held last year?

2) We have our first student protest of the new school year. In Mankato, a few dozen students are protesting problems with their financial aid at Minnesota State University, the Free Press reports today. Nearly half the students in the College Access Program, targeted to students that usually don’t make it to college, didn’t submit paperwork for an audit of their financial aid. “There’s 34 of us that might be going home tonight,” student Vanessa Chandler said. The students also protested moving the program from the Office of Institutional Diversity to the College of Education.

Related: How bad do you want an education, kids? As bad as Mike Mallah? Mike’s parents lost two homes to war – first in Palestine and later Kuwait during the Gulf War. They settled in the United States and began to see a brighter future when they opened a neighborhood convenience store. Then Mike’s father, Mohammed, was shot and killed in a robbing. His story is on American Public Media’s The Story.

3) Is Joe Mauer the most valuable player in fantasy baseball? The Hardball Times today analyzes the kid from St. Paul, who hit his 26th home run last night. “Any people involved in fantasy baseball tend to dismiss catchers the way that people involved in fantasy football dismiss kickers. But to see a player outperform his positional peers to this degree demands notice,” it says.

By the way, the Twins’ rival, the White Sox, tossed the white flag after last night’s loss to the Twins, trading Jim Thome to the Dodgers. The season won’t be as much fun without that rivalry.

4) Another source of renewable energy? Watermelon. Researchers fermented watermelon juice to produce ethanol, according to a study. Of course, we hear a lot about biofuels and all the options available as an alternative to corn-based ethanol. So last evening’s Marketplace segment on the future of ethanol considered biofuels alternatives like switchgrass was worth paying attention to. This was the money quote Mark Beemer, the CEO of Alternative Energy Sources in Kansas City:

When you compare that to the corn industry, where Monsanto, SynGenta, Pioneer are investing $1 billion in corn genetics to increase yields, it’s almost laughable that everyone wants to talk about switchgrass.

The subject of watermelons never came up.

5) A followup to yesterday’s 5@8 on Republican chances for taking control of the Minnesota House. Eric Ostermeier at the Smart Politics blog breaks down the districts that aren’t in play. The strongest DFL district in the state, he says, is Rep. Karen Clark’s in Minneapolis. The strongest GOP seat is Rep. Steve Smith’s in Plymouth.

Bonus:The Uneasy Congo. Photographer Dominic Nahr has slept in churches in Congo for safety while photographing refugees fleeing their own homes. He’s just 25.


A new NASA mission is searching for earthlike planets, and some scientists think the mission will reveal important clues about the potential for advanced civilizations. How likely is it that aliens exist somewhere in the universe?


I’ll have another installment in The Unemployed series by early afternoon.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Political update. Opposing viewpoints on health care changes are hitting the road to rally people to their respective causes. Congress soon returns to work on health care bills and the other issues in front of them, such as climate change legislation.

Second hour: Scientists search for life beyond Earth

By the way, here’s video of yesterday’s appearance by Ben Vereen:

Midday (11 a.m. -1 p.m.) – First hour: St. Johns University historian Nick Hayes discusses the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

Second hour: “World War II On the Air,” a documentary about Edward R. Murrow’s radio broadcasts during World War II.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Former Homeland Security boss Tom Ridge suggests in his new book that Bush administration officials pressured him to raise the terrorist threat level for political reasons. Over the weekend, he appeared to back off the assertion. Which is it? He’s the first-hour guest.

Second hour: An update on California wildfires and a look at a day in the life of a firefighter. Outstanding coverage is being provided by our sister-station, KPCC in Pasadena.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Bob Kelleher reports the beloved Duluth landmark and observation point, the Enger tower. is being closed for renovations.

Is wind along — and on — Lake Superior a viable renewable energy? Stephanie Hemphill looks at the question.

From NPR, is high-speed rail getting any love in the South? And a story from upstate New York, where the health care issue is said to be dominating the New York State Fair.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Glad to see the last of Mr. Thome, who was a bit of a Twins Killer with the Sox.

    Not last night, of course….Went to the game (with a group of ethanol producers, none of whom grow watermellon, BTW), enjoyed the Twins swinging the big bats. Good job by Blackburn, too!

  • John P.

    ” the Twins’ rival, the White Sox, tossed the white flag after last night’s loss to the Twins”

    I wouldn’t dismiss the White Sox yet. They still have a lot of talent, and the shakeup might just wake them up. If the Sox do wilt, there’s stil lthe Tigers to catch. KC and Cleveland have made games with the Twins more competitive than they should be. The Twins are probably not going beyond winning the central divsion, but that race will still be fun to watch.