1) OPEN THREAD: PAWLENTY’S LEGACY
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is doing a victory lap this week. The traditional end-of-administration interviews with various newsies is the governor’s chance to set his legacy before the historians do. Presidential campaigns can’t wait for the historians. This morning, MPR has Tom Scheck’s version of the reflection.
For most of Pawlenty’s two terms, Minnesota lagged the nation in creating jobs. A look at Minnesota’s jobs record shows that the state has just 6,200 more workers now than it had in January of 2003. In January, 2009, the state’s unemployment rate started performing better than the national average — a point he repeatedly highlights during speeches.
A look at other numbers shows that Minnesota became less prosperous during Pawlenty’s tenure, even when accounting for the national downturn. In 2002, Minnesota ranked eighth in the nation in per capita income. By 2009, the state had dropped to 14th in the nation.
In its assessment, the Pioneer Press this morning finds a few good things to say:
For years, Minnesota has been a national leader in high school graduation rates, test scores and other education measures. Pawlenty said he took several steps to improve the state’s education programs.
He repealed the state’s outdated Profile of Learning teaching requirements and replaced them with new, more rigorous academic standards.
He is most proud of establishing a pay-for-performance system for teachers, known as Q Comp, that links salaries to student achievement. One-third of Minnesota students are now taught by Q Comp teachers, he said.
Today’s task: Assess the administration of Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a way we haven’t heard before.
By the way, the Star Tribune reports this morning that the governor bypassed the usual judicial selection process to give the wife of a top aide a seat on the bench. Tis the season for that.
2) THE BURGLARS AT THE BANK
It was bad enough that banks forced people into foreclosure without even looking at the paperwork involved to make sure it was legit, the New York Times reports today. Now banks are breaking into homes and stealing everything inside, including a man’s ashes.
In Florida, contractors working for Chase Bank used a screwdriver to enter Debra Fischer’s house in Punta Gorda and helped themselves to a laptop, an iPod, a cordless drill, six bottles of wine and a frosty beer, left half-empty on the counter, according to assertions in a lawsuit filed in August. Ms. Fisher was facing foreclosure, but Chase had not yet obtained a court order, her lawyer says.
3) JUST WONDERING…
If you took a spaceship to the sun, how close could you get before you vaporize?
Some of the sun’s most basic function’s are still a mystery, and this mission aims to change that, Dantzler says. Solar wind, for example, travels at the speed of sound at the sun’s surface, but closer to lightspeed in the corona. “That has something to do with the magnetic fields of the sun, but we don’t understand exactly how it works. So we have to send something that goes inside the corona, inside that big fiery part, to investigate.”
4) THE FUN OF SNOW DAYS
A Rochester Post Bulletin columnist makes a great point today. Kids don’t have the fun of snow days we used to have when technology was in its relative infancy.
While the snow fell outside, we would go to bed with our radios within arm’s reach. In the morning, as soon as our groggy little eyes opened, we would snatch the radio and lay huddled in our beds waiting for our school to be announced.
The moment we heard the name of our town, we would fly out of bed and get dressed faster than we ever would on a regular school day. At that point, we would race back to the radio to listen for the next round of announcements. We just had to hear it a second time before we could celebrate with certainty.
It’s also what introduced generations of kids to the value of radio.
5) SEASON’S GAGGINGS
Have you ever seen a holiday video that was so horrible you couldn’t stop watching it. No? Here:
Bonus: Make music, not snowmen.
In an important test of artificial intelligence, an IBM computer will compete with star contestants on “Jeopardy” this February. Would you expect the computer to win, or one of the humans?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Local food: can it be more than just a niche? The local food movement has been growing steadily the past few years, but availability, cost, and convenience remain an issue. Can local food be produced at a scale that makes it affordable for the consumer and viable for small farmers? And does the public really care about eating local?
Second hour: Scientists are learning that aging may not as inevitable as we think and the secrets lie in our genetics. Midmorning discusses the latest science and future policy issues for in increasingly older population.
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The impact of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Second hour: David Kirkpatrick, author of “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World.”
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Mara Liasson talks politics.
Second hour: David Crystal talks about the King James Bible and the English language.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A bill to make food safer has passed out of the House. The Food Safety Modernization Act strengthens government oversight of food processing facilities and farms. A controversial part of the bill exempts small farms from most safety oversight and that divides some Minnesota farmers. MPR’s Nancy Lebens will have the story.
Marty Moylan reports that major local retailers are exploring how they can better communicate and sell things to shoppers by using smart phone applications. The apps offer the ability to compare prices, get information about products and deliver rewards for shopping in a company’s stores.