Thirty parks in 30 days, did the Senser trial botch the verdict, Gov. Walker’s divide-and-conquer plan, Minnesota’s mythical nursing shortage, and the NFL stadium road show moves west.
1) HERE’S THE DEAL
If I had the power of proclamation, I would name today Reggie Deal Day in Minnesota. The kid’s got guts.
Reggie Deal of Wyoming (the state), arrives in Minnesota sometime today. The blind man set out to prove that blind people can enjoy baseball and he’s visiting all 30 baseball stadiums in 30 days. He arrived in Boston yesterday only to find out what he thought would be the highlight of the trip — a tour of Fenway Park — didn’t happen because nobody told the PR department.
“With that and all the travel issues, I’m getting to a point where I want to just be done with all 30, say I’ve conquered the baseball mountain, and go home,” he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
Deal, who is also a thyroid cancer survivor, has been planning the trip for months and has already taught us some of the challenges the sighted don’t see…
Some transit and technology observations. It is nice that they want us blind travelers to be independent, but when local transit agencies have no signs that can tell visitors which platforms are which, when they use ticket machines that are touch screen and completely inaccessible, when airlines use ticket check-in kiosks that are touch screen, we really don’t get a much of a chance to even try to travel half way independently. If we go to touch screens for everything, we will be completely shut out by technology. Hell even the vending machines at the hotel now are digital and you of course have no Braille that tells you what code goes to what beverage. yet no one seems to communicate this to the one size fits all industrialists in this world.
He’s had a tough time on the trip, what with taxi drivers in Tampa ripping him off, navigating the subway system in New York, and trying to get airlines to understand that blind people don’t need wheelchairs.
At Fenway Park last night, the team honored its public address announcer — he died earlier in the week — by not having any public address announcements during the game. That doesn’t work well for blind fans.
I tweeted about his situation after his Facebook post yesterday, and the Minnesota Twins stepped forward in a Major League and Minnesota way.
They’re going to show him a good time tonight.
Please allow me to introduce myself and express my excitement that you’ll be visiting us here at Target Field tomorrow. I was made aware of your journey by Bob Collins, who has been covering your progress.
I want to extend an invite for you to join us on the field for batting practice prior to tomorrow’s game. If you’re available, BP would start at about 4:30 p.m. We could then give you a tour of our facility if you’d like.
Anyway, please let me know if we can do anything to make your visit to Target Field a memorable one. Please don’t hesitate to call me on my cell phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
I hope to meet you tomorrow.
Corporate Communications Manager
Postscript: My sister-in-law texted that she was at last night’s Red Sox game too, so Mrs. NewsCut texted her with Reggie’s seat location, which they happened to be walking by — they were disgusted with their local heroes and were leaving — at the time. She tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Are you Reggie?” He was Reggie.
If you’re at the game tonight at Target Field, you can find Reggie Deal in Section 211, row 1, seat 17. Stop by.
He heads to Phoenix next.
2) DID THE SENSER JURY BOTCH THE VERDICT?
A new question has arisen in the case of Amy Senser, convicted in the hit and run death of a man on an I-94 ramp in Minneapolis: What on earth was the jury thinking? The Star Tribune reports today that the jury had sent a note to the judge, saying it believed Senser’s defense that she didn’t know she hit a person, but it thought she probably knew she hit a car. The problem with that? She wasn’t charged with hitting and killing a car.
The area’s best-and-brightest appear to disagree with the meaning:
For that reason, Hamline University Law Prof. Joseph Daly said, the jury’s verdict could be impeached because Senser was unable to defend herself against something she didn’t know was being alleged against her. That would result in a new trial.
“How could she defend that if she never even knew that she was charged with it?” he said.
Criminal defense attorney Joseph Tamburino said that although the note likely should have been shared with attorneys, it doesn’t affect the verdict, which had been issued by the time the jury wrote it.
It’s difficult to overturn jury verdicts, he said, and because the verdict correctly followed instructions — regardless of what was argued in court — it likely will stand.
The situation explains why Senser’s defense team has subpoenaed the unaired video interviews with jurors in the case, setting up a potential First Amendment fight with the media. The jurors interviewed in the case said nothing — at least in footage that was aired — about believing Senser’s story, and convicting her at the same time.
“I am shocked that he would do that. He can call the jurors himself,” said Paul Hannah, a Minneapolis lawyer who practices First Amendment law told the Pioneer Press..
“If this was one of the television stations I represented, I would tell him (Nelson) to pound sand. You don’t subpoena them.”
This is the kind of thing the most ethical journalists go to jail to protect.
3) GOV. WALKER’S DIVIDE-AND-CONQUER PLAN
A Wisconsin filmmaker, who has some Democratic ties, has dropped a bit of a bombshell weeks before the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker. Documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein’s video shows the governor telling Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks that he had a “divide and conquer” strategy against the state’s public employee unions, after she asked how the state could become a “right to work” state. A few weeks later, Walker released his budget plan.
Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation in 1993 as a freshman in the state Assembly, but as governor has consistently downplayed seeking any restrictions on private unions in public statements.
“From our standpoint, it’s never going to get to me,” Walker said of right-to-work legislation in an interview with the Journal Sentinel on April 27. “Private sector unions are my partner in economic development.”
Walker, however, has repeatedly declined to say whether he would sign or veto a right-to-work bill if passed by the Legislature. Supporters say right-to-work bills give more freedom to workers and make it more attractive for companies to invest and hire employees in a state. Opponents say they undermine unions and workers’ wages and don’t help the economy.
In response to the documentary trailer, Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said Thursday that the governor’s position on right to work was clear.
“Governor Walker has made clear repeatedly that he does not have an interest in pushing right-to-work legislation,” Matthews said.
Find the video at the link above.
4) WHAT NURSING SHORTAGE?
MPR’s Annie Baxter has a terribly important story today: There is no nursing shortage in Minnesota. It’s bad news for the people in the nursing programs at state colleges and universities, which are stuffed with people, many of whom have switched careers:
In 2002, the job vacancy rate for registered nurses climbed as high as about 7 percent. That meant that for every 100 jobs in the field, there were nearly seven openings.
But in the last few years, demand has softened. As the recession hit, people used health care less, prompting hospitals to hire fewer new nurses. Some nurses delayed retirement, which meant fewer positions coming open. Meanwhile, schools kept churning out new nurses.
“There are lots of jobs, but there are also a lot of graduates,” Casale said.
By the end of last year, for every 100 RNs with jobs, there were only about two openings. That’s no better than the average job vacancy rate for Minnesota’s overall labor market.
Question: Don’t the state’s two-year institutions have an obligation to tell would-be students that there isn’t much of a demand for the graduates?
5) THE STADIUM SCRIPT WORD FOR WORD
Here’s a question in the aftermath of the Vikings stadium debate: Why did some people think it would go any other way? There was nothing — nothing — in the stadium debate in Minnesota that was unlike the stadium debates in other cities that have ponied up cash for owners.
Rick Prescott, at BallparkMagic.com eats some crow today:
But I also underestimated the role of fear in this decision. Though clear eyes could see that the odds of the Vikings leaving any time soon were infinitesimal, neither legislators nor their noisy constituents always see with clear eyes. They can be easily spooked. And deliberative bodies tend to amplify fears. (I don’t think this represents speaking out of turn. Many, many speeches, especially in the House, revealed that plain old fear of losing the Vikings was the primary motivation among those who supported the plan.) I discounted these things, thinking that there were cooler heads holding the reins.
Boing. I got it wrong.
I also erroneously thought that this process would be informed by its two immediate predecessors. I consider that the funding and siting of both TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field represent triumphs of the legislative process and of urban planning. They are models for how a very messy process can come out with exceptionally positive results. That cannot be said for this plan in either siting or funding. (It will take a decade or more to find out whether I’m wrong in believing that the Metrodome site is a truly lousy place to put a new stadium. The verdict on the funding may come sooner. I’m sure that, if I’m wrong again, you’ll tell me.)
The they-might-move-to-Los-Angeles show now moves to Oakland, where Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News raises a familiar cry:
With the Minnesota domino falling — and the San Diego domino leaning toward a potential tumble — the Raiders are in good position to stare down Oakland officials and not blink. Plenty of NFL franchises have utilized Los Angeles as a stalking horse to get better stadium situations. Buffalo did. New Orleans did. Heck, before the Santa Clara stadium became real, the 49ers even made it into the LA rumor mill.
I’m not sure if Mark Davis owns or leases a private plane. But he now has a playbook regarding future strategic tarmac placement. Dominoes, anyone?
By the way, Minnesota Vikings fans dressed up in those silly costumes for the last week at the Capitol, ditch the horns:
Bonus I: At the leaning tower of Pisa, every tourist wants a picture that appears to show them holding the tower up. So Darius Groza high-fives them when they’re not looking. (Language warning!)
Bonus II: Inside the newspaper morgue:
Bonus III: Dish Network bites the hand that feeds it. It will eliminate ads on some TV shows.
Citing the potential for permanent brain injury and the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, NFL player Jacob Bell has retired at 31. Today’s Question: Does the violence in football pose a long-term threat to the sport?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Senate leaders wrap up the Minnesota legislative session.
Second hour: Ruth Hayden on finance.
Third hour: Weekly roundtable with faith leaders.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): New documentary from the America Abroad series, hosted by Ray Suarez. “The Future of NATO.”
Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Why some say the American president should have a basic understanding of science, and how a presidential science debate can help.
Second hour: America’s growing weight problem. Plus, disease detectives crack a viral mystery, and the trashy sound of “The Garbage-Men” band.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Many evangelical Christians are skeptical of Mitt Romney. But they’re still widely expected to support the Mormon Republican’s bid for the White House. NPR investigates whether they turn out in great enough numbers to help him win?