Five by 8 – 5/7/10: Faces by the side of the road

1) I don’t have a lot to add to all the coverage here on MPR NewsQ about yesterday’s funeral for Sgt. Joe Bergeron of the Maplewood Police Department. You’ve probably seen all the pictures from the sidewalk of the procession from the Maplewood Community Center to the cemetery. Here’s what it looked like from inside one of the Maplewood public safety vehicles.

(Click for a larger image. Look at those faces!)




The takeaway: We’re still a place where school kids (in this case: Edgerton Elementary) come out of class, stand by the side of the road, put their hands over their hearts, and show respect to someone who’s earned it.

(h/t: Jeff Morgan, Maplewood Fire Dept.)

2) The odds are increasing that there’s going to be a state government shutdown to compensate for the huge budget deficit that lawmakers seem unable or unwilling to close. So let’s start assembling a list of our priorities. Select as many of the following as you like, and add your own.

I would be willing to do without…online surveys

Some already-implemented cuts are hitting Main St. Blue Earth County is the latest to consider cutting a Sentence to Serve program, according to the Mankato Free Press, designed to keep low-level offenders out of jail.

3) Dreaming. Could Jon Stewart succeed one of the iconic TV news anchors?

I know the arguments against the idea. Stewart is the first to tell anyone who will listen that he is an entertainer, not a journalist. He intends to make people laugh and think, probably in that order.

But what is a journalist, anyway, in 2010? A blogger, who has no experience, can consider himself or herself a serious journalist. So can your garden-variety loudmouth on any cable-news channel.

Then we have Stewart’s case. He may just be America’s most trusted name in news among his fans, the young, hip, educated, affluent cable audience.

It was a trick question. He already has.

4) Remember when public radio was stuffy white folks talking about dead classical music composers and Greek tragedies? The truth is: We’re still pretty stuff and there are a lot of conversations about the latest trip to Europe, but …

5) The target of racist Facebook comments by a couple of white University of Minnesota Duluth students says she’ll return to the school next year. The two students who ignited racial tensions at the school have not apologized, she said.

“It’s not like they stepped on my toe … or called me ugly. It’s deeper than that,” Savannah Caldwell told the Duluth News Tribune. “The things they were saying were so racist, like from-the-1800s racist. Monkeys and trees? I thought we got past that.”

(Video h/t: Jay Cole of Youth Video Quest)

This morning at 11 afternoon, MPR’s Michael Caputo will host another online conversation about race. This week: How we talk about race. What does it take for conversations to begin on race? How do we keep perspective as we engage in such discussions? Find it here.

Bonus: Is it time to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction?

The home mortgage interest deduction also subsidizes Americans to buy bigger homes, and there is little reason to like that. Americans, even poor Americans, have almost twice as much living space as the average resident of France or Germany. According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, homes with between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet of heated living space use 41 percent more electricity than homes with between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet of space. In an age of global warming, why should we subsidize the greater energy use inherent in larger homes?

Follow-up: Last month, MPR’s Euan Kerr talked with Neil Gaiman about “why he loves libraries.” Who wouldn’t love a place that pays you $45,000 for one afternoon’s work? The Star Tribune reports on how Legacy money (sales tax increase) was spent to “expose suburbia to authors of national acclaim.” Excuse me? “Expose suburbia to authors of national acclaim.” You pay for the author. The condescension comes free.

Washington County used $45,000 of Legacy funds for a talk by Neil Gaiman.Market Research


The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens environmental and economic disaster. How has the Gulf oil spill affected your view of America’s energy future?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Rosanne Cash (Rebroadcast of the 2/9/10 show).

Second hour: Midmorning reprises two music shows recorded live at MPR. We’ll hear brothers, Minnesota natives Dan and Matt Wilson and sisters in song Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour:An update on the legislative session and budget negotiations, from MPR’s Mike Mulcahy, Tom Scheck and Tim Pugmire.

Second hour: University of Minnesota meteorologist Mark Seeley.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – Science Friday! First hour: A study finds that people making a tough decision may find some solace in washing their hands. Writing this week in the journal Science, researchers report that having test subjects wash their hands after making a difficult decision could reduce ‘cognitive dissonance,’ the uneasiness that comes from holding two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time. Test subjects who washed their hands after the decision-making test appeared to be more at ease with the choices made during the experiment. We’ll talk about the finding, and what it tells us about the human mind.

Second hour: The ecological damage from the Gulf oil spill.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Dan Gunderson will report on whether wind turbines are driving prairie birds away from habitat.

Christopher Lehman, a professor of ethnic studies at St. Cloud State University, has done extensive research on the history of African Americans in St. Cloud. He’s reviewed census records and newspaper articles from as old as the late 1800s to string together a historical narrative of slavery in St. Cloud. The slaves were, of course, in the single digits. So slavery was not rampant in St. Cloud. Southerners also vacationed in St. Cloud with their slaves. MPR’s Ambar Espinoza explores how the legacy of slavery has influenced race and ethnic relations today in St. Cloud.

We’ll all meet back here at 3 p.m. to determine whether we still have a viable stock market.

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  • Al

    \\Is it time to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction?

    How about an upper limit on the amount you can deduct? I thought encouraging home ownership was a good thing. Also, with the housing market in such rough shape and continuing to act as a drag on our shaky economy, is now the time to consider removing a major incentive to buying a home?

    As for what I am willing to give up – Has anyone noticed that the Republican drumbeat of the government is too big has virtually been accepted as fact? Was this proven somewhere and I missed it? Instead of looking at how much you pay in taxes and declaring it to be too much, I prefer to consider what I want government to be doing and what it is going to cost. That’s a lot like Bob’s list above. I do want the state to do most of those things. By our democratic process other people of the state want the rest. Now how do we get the money to pay for it.

  • Kassie

    I hadn’t even considered that there may be a state shutdown this July. Crap. I better start saving…

  • Kassie

    I also watched the procession of police cars yesterday. Not by choice, I just happened to be on a bus that got caught up by the procession. Most of the people on the bus just elected to stay on the bus. Some screamed into their phones profanities about how dare they delay their day. Most by the road stood, respectfully, and waited for the 45 minute procession to end so they could continue on their way. It was a pretty awesome site.

  • Bob Collins

    Kassie, you’re a News Cut Hall of Famer. Not to worry. We’ll all take care of you. We’ll organize so we bring you dinner every night. I’ve got a tent around here somewhere.

    You’re in good hands.

  • kennedy

    Here are examples of budget cutting enacted by corporate america that could be applied to the state budget:

    Reduce legislative support staff. Doing some of their own work may encourage our representatives to seek a more speedy resolution.

    Restrict all but essential travel. No state payment for meals, hotels, or travel. Our governor may then choose to stay home and get this worked out.

  • Bonnie

    fyi, there is an upper limit on how much mortgage interest can be deducted, simply put, nothing on debt in excess of 1,000,000.

  • MR

    I think I’ll actually have some vacation time if we end up shutting down. What a damned mess. Then afterward, my program might have to send grant money back to the feds for the time that we didn’t work. Talk about a paperwork nightmare…

    I did see part of the procession yesterday–I was on the bridge over 35E on John Ireland. It was such an impressive and moving sight to see the police cars from all over drive by…