We know what you think of Tom Barnard. Trust us, we know.
There are hardened perspectives on Barnard’s 43-year run in local radio. But his polarizing persona blinds audiences to a larger reality, which is that Barnard is an adroit, engaged businessman who has built a network of shrewd investments outside media, while also working to reinvent his brand for a new media era. There’s very little Barnard touches that doesn’t turn golden.
That’s not to say there haven’t been losses—largely his once-lucrative voiceover business and an everyman popularity that split down the middle when he became identified with right-wing ideological causes.
The sting of that turned Barnard privately introspective and left him reluctant to talk to the press, making his business universe a side of Barnard few people know, but one the press-shy personality agreed to open up about as he embarks on a make-or-break year for his Tom Barnard podcast.
Home base for Barnard’s network of businesses is a suite of offices in the North Loop’s historic Itasca warehouse. The space is framed in walls of glass, ancient wood beams and columns, and man-cave luxuries like deep leather couches, a stocked bar and several big-screen TVs.
It is the HQ for the real estate and land development concern that Barnard funds, and, hidden away in a windowless room, the studio—built and soundproofed to broadcast standards—for his Tom Barnard podcast. Five afternoons a week, Barnard and his cast of family and regulars deliver a two-hour broadcast designed to perhaps one day supplant his radio show.
It’s an ambitious venture for the 62-year-old radio veteran and Golden Valley resident, who no longer needs to work, much less rethink a medium. “But I learned there was only so much golf I could play,” says Barnard.
“And I’ll be honest with you, I like owning stuff.”The King must change
To those who don’t follow Barnard, it may not be apparent how extraordinary, even historic, his achievements in radio are. “MSP is a top 20 marketplace,” explains Mark Steinmetz, a 36-year radio veteran now based in Phoenix, who ran KQRS until 2001. “Since the advent of the KQ Morning Show, no radio show has enjoyed the kind of success Tom enjoyed and enjoys at KQ. Nobody came close. Tom beat his closest [top 20] competitor by a factor of two to three.”
“Tom is an excellent broadcaster,” says his new business partner, Don Shelby. “He has a great sense of timing, he’s well informed, a good interviewer. And he’s endlessly entertaining.”
The KQ Morning Show has been very good to Barnard, earning him millions since 1986, but several factors in his life and business universe persuaded him it was time to diversify.
“Look, KQRS isn’t a job you just walk away from,” says Barnard. “It’s still very strong, but I’m done at 10 a.m., and at the end of the day, I’m still working for someone else.”
Retirement was not an option. “He likes to work,” says his wife and podcast co-host, Kathryn Brandt, who is also a real estate agent. “He’s not happy with a lot of time on his hands.”
Barnard’s nephew Sean, a radio veteran who ran digital operations for Hubbard Radio and then Citadel Broadcasting in the Twin Cities, came to Tom in 2011 with an idea. “He asked me if I was really going to want to get up at 4 a.m. for the remainder of my life,” Barnard recalls. The answer was no.
Sean proposed that Tom create a podcast, a venture he could own, and more notably, control—whom he shares the air with and how each hour is programmed; those are choices he doesn’t make at KQRS. There would also not be the constraining formatics and heavy commercial load of AM radio.Hot buttons, cold feelings
There are years when Barnard questioned why he should stay in the business. Though morning radio has done right by Barnard, it has complicated his personal and business life in ways he hadn’t anticipated. Ways that cost him income, friends and community esteem. Most of it is rooted in his decision, after 9/11, to move his radio show into the realm of politics.
“It’s probably my biggest regret,” he says. “It was a terrible mistake. Did anyone know Johnny Carson’s politics?”OAS_AD("Middle");
The way Barnard recalls it, in the passionate times after the 9/11 attacks, as it became clear to colleagues that Tom had strong feelings about the geopolitical situation, he was encouraged to air those feelings on his show. He recalls longtime program director Dave Hamilton and producer Bryce Crousore pushing him to take the show ideological. The request was not inconsistent with Barnard’s history.
“Tom was brutally honest,” says Steinmetz. “He would take on the establishment, the rich and powerful, he gave a backdoor look into the seamier sides of the music and radio industries.”
This time, Barnard says, he was reluctant, but acceded to the requests. “I know it’s hard for some people to believe,” he says, “but there’s lots of things I’ve done on KQ that I didn’t want to do. I’m thinking about the 150 jobs in that building. If I’m wrong and they lose jobs because I won’t take [management’s] way, that’s something I couldn’t live with.”
Though bending to his bosses is inconsistent with the blunt Barnard’s public persona, his longtime confidant and podcast co-host Don Shelby finds it credible. “Tom is a broadcaster—ratings mean a lot, popularity means a lot,” Shelby explains. “He listened to the advice because he saw the rise of Limbaugh and saw the writing on the wall.” Barnard was too good at it.
“Tom is fearless in saying very frank things on the radio,” says Shelby. “It’s the source of his success, but it also gets him into trouble.”
The ratings went up, but at a cost. The notoriety cost Barnard his broad popularity and his lucrative voiceover business. “The things I said and stands I took went on Wikipedia, they went national. Advertisers don’t want to be associated with anything controversial. No one wanted to work with me,” Barnard reveals.
It also cost Barnard his reputation as a moderate—which is how he thinks of himself. “I became the local left’s bad guy; still am.” (Barnard says KQRS received half a million faxes calling for his head after the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone. Barnard had suggested Wellstone “drop dead” after Wellstone used Barnard to make political points in a debate over immigration and assimilation. The senator died in a plane crash 39 days later.) It turned a guy who already was inclined to reclusiveness inward, and made him more protective of privacy and family.The Voice, silenced
Tom Barnard’s most distinctive asset has long been his gravelly baritone. And long before he was a morning-drive powerhouse, he was a national presence in commercial voiceover work. (He was the voice of KSTP-TV until the end of last year.) It was a glamorous vocation that came to a crashing halt.
“God, it was a fun business,” Barnard recalls. “You would bounce from studio to studio in an eight-hour day. There were about 25 of us nationally. You could earn a couple mil a year in voice work.” The peak was 1977 to 1986. “Some days I would do KQ, then fly to Chicago for the day for voiceover work.”
Work began to wane in the late 1990s. “It’s not really a profession anymore,” Barnard says. “Movie stars decided voiceover work was no longer beneath them. I’d be auditioning against Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Paul Newman.” Hackman took Barnard’s gig with United Airlines, Ed Harris took Home Depot.
What opportunities remained were snuffed out as Barnard became known for political outbursts. “No one wanted to work with me then,” he says. “I lost Home Depot over that.”
His last client was KSTP. “In the ’80s a TV station would pay $40,000 to $50,000 a year for announcing work,” Barnard says. “Now it’s like $5,000.”An online rebirth
Fast-forward a decade, and the idea of starting something from scratch appealed to Tom, but not in quite the way Sean Barnard expected.
“The basic truth is I decided to do the podcast because my kids graduated from college and couldn’t find jobs,” Tom explains. “We were trying to find a way to employ these kids,” confirms Brandt, of daughter Alex, 25, and son Andy, 27.Barnard podcast by the numbers
$250K in startup costs
2013 revenue: $250K; 2014 estimate: $750K; peak future estimate: $2m
10% stream the podcast live
10,000–12,000 downloads per day
Income averages $100,000 to $200,000
62% of audience is local
Largest age cohort: 35-54
65% of listeners are male
The theory was that a podcast could be hosted by the entire Barnard family, creating a legacy that lives on after Tom retires. “I love working with my family,” Barnard says. “My mom died and my kids moved out in a five-month period. I was depressed. I still hate it.
“So I told ’em, ‘You both need a job that makes some money. The economy sucks. What are you going to do, make 15 grand a year at Target?’ And it makes it possible for me to see them every day,” Barnard adds. The Tom Barnard podcast was born.
In 2012 Barnard offered Cumulus Broadcasting, KQRS Radio’s current owner, a partnership in the podcast he was planning. Cumulus at the time had no interest in the digital side of radio, and had cut loose Sean Barnard, who had been running its digital operations at the time. But Cumulus did give Barnard carte blanche for his venture.
The Tom Barnard podcast hit the air that August, streaming over the Internet and archived at tombarnardpodcast.com. It has morphed from its debut, most dramatically at the beginning of this year.
The show debuted as a free-form conversation between Tom and family and a guest or two, all sitting around a conference table ringed with microphones. It is evolving into two distinctly programmed hours with a more defined structure and limited guest presence. In 2013 Barnard brought on ex-WCCO TV and Radio personality Don Shelby as co-host, which has given the show a topical spark but has also diminished the amount of air time available for family.
“Tom is great at finding other talented people to surround himself with,” says Mark Steinmetz. “And they have the effect of bringing out the best in him.”
The podcast is not simply meant to be a workfare program for the Barnard kids and a retired TV anchor, but rather is a fresh concept, blazing a local trail in digital content and marketing.
Barnard believes he can maintain both KQRS and the podcast indefinitely; he no longer talks of leaving KQ, though insiders talk as though the podcast represents a soft landing if at some point Barnard should find AM drive radio too frustrating.Weak signal
Radio today is a medium in transition. Its music stations face competition from digital downloads and smartphones, while its talk/personality formats struggle under a new audience ratings system that has slashed estimates of listenership nationwide.
Barnard began the KQ morning show in 1986, and says at its peak around 2000, it was generating $25 million to $28 million in revenue for KQRS. “When I went to work for KQ it had been sold for $10.5 million to Capital Cities (ABC),” he says. “It was worth $400 million 10 years later.” (Steinmetz’s recollection is closer to $300 million.)
Most of the credit for that should go to Barnard, but he deflects much of it: “I will always be grateful to [retired KQRS program director] Dave [Hamilton],” Barnard says. “He was the only one who believed I could pull the morning show off.”
Then-general manager Steinmetz recalls that, at its peak, Barnard and crew were attracting a 25 percent share of adults 25 to 54, the prime buying demographic. “We started selling ads for Tom at $80 a minute,” Steinmetz says, “and rates kept doubling. At its highest, they were going for $2,500 a minute.”
“People forget,” says Shelby, “how much audiences were hungering for something authentic from radio back then. Tom didn’t invent a personality for himself. He is who he says he is, and that is the source of his connection with listeners.”
That was then. KQRS still leads in morning drive among adults 35 to 54, but it and WCCO Radio have most keenly felt the audience erosion of the last decade, says Val O’Sullivan, media investment supervisor for Campbell Mithun’s Compass Point Media. She says morning drive has lost roughly 20 percent of its measurable audience since the peak, some due to changing listener habits, some due to the change in ratings technology (diaries to electronic meters).
“There is also less revenue available per ratings point,” notes Steinmetz. “All the traditional media are fighting [just] to keep revenues flat, and that’s factoring in a growing stream of online revenues. [Radio is] about 20 percent off our peak in 2000, which doesn’t seem bad, but year after year without growth is very tough on businesses,” especially ones that are often publicly held and heavily leveraged.
Barnard says the morning show generates 40 percent less revenue than in the glory years. “Tom always commanded a premium,” says a source at one of his competitors. “Not so much today. Today the ad agencies tell us what they are going to pay and we take it.”
Barnard says he accepted two 50 percent pay cuts in recent contracts to adjust to the new revenue reality. “I took a huge cut so people didn’t lose their jobs,” he notes, “so now [management] pretty much leaves me alone [on matters of program content].”
Still, media buyer O’Sullivan describes the KQ Morning Show as “influential” and “vital.” “Our radio budgets are increasing,” she says. “Our perspective is radio is vibrant.” Podcast general manager Sean Barnard believes radio will suffer relative to digital going forward: “First, the audience is not precisely measurable like digital [is]. There is discontent among parts of the industry over the reliability of audience data,” he says. “Second, radio has spent most of the last decade cutting costs and finding ways to reduce the amount of talent they employ. So radio has no farm system for talent anymore. It is content-starved. It’s not creating guys like Tom anymore.”Investment strategy: bread and a roof
The wealth that voiceover and radio brought Barnard made him a target of any number of people looking to put his wealth to work. His money may be in great demand, but he doesn’t exactly relish the role.
“It’s a very uncomfortable position to be in, to be the money guy,” he says. “My net worth is pretty high, but my liquidity is not great. I mostly am doing it for my kids.”
In 2006 Tom met Ryan Burnet on the golf course. They became friends and Barnard became an investor in several of Burnet’s restaurants— the Barrio group of tequila bars and the high-style Italian restaurant Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis’s North Loop. “Tom trusted me,” says Burnet, “and we built a rapport.” Burnet accepts the premise that restaurants “are not an investment most financial advisors would recommend,” but Barnard says “things have worked out very well. I’ve been lucky.”
Restaurant investors are known for meddling and holding court in “their” joints, but Burnet says Barnard is the “ideal investor: respectful, low key, gracious.”
Barnard was dead-set against becoming an egotistical owner. “There are so many people who think they know how to do radio,” he says, “that I never would tell anything to a professional restaurateur.”
Barnard attributes his interest in restaurants not to status or recognition (few people even are aware of his associations with the local hot spots), but to something more primal: “My mom was a waitress at Merwin Drug at Broadway and Lyndale. So to me, it’s like, isn’t this cool?”
His entrée into real estate was not as silky. Barnard owned a 27-acre farm in Dayton, Minn., which he couldn’t sell because of the recession. He got to know the guys who ultimately bought it, two real estate developers sitting out the downturn, and eventually decided to become their money guy.
The partnership operates companies that serve vastly different niches. Homebridge developed a portfolio of distressed bank-owned properties in Minnesota. Gold Country Development LLC is a player in the Bakken oil region of western North Dakota. Partner Steve Boynton, a lawyer by training, describes the areas around Williston, N.D., as having “no zoning or comprehensive planning.” Gold Country invests in single-family and workforce housing, plus light industrial buildings.
“The Starbucks in Williston did a million net in its first year, so there’s a lot of opportunity up there,” Boynton says. “The hard part is avoiding the temptation to get into stuff not in your core competency.” He says Barnard has “developed an instinct for real estate; he enjoys the process, he comes to the strategic meetings.”
Barnard attributes his interest to sports columnist Sid Hartman, another North Side kid who spent his life in media but made his money in real estate.
Still, there have been bad patches. “If you want to keep your faith in humanity,” says Barnard, “don’t invest with people. They will always fuck you out of money.”Camera-ready?
Given Barnard’s reclusive nature, it may stop you in your tracks to learn he is seriously considering a move into television. Barnard and family were scheduled to shoot a pilot for an unscripted reality show (“Really unscripted, not like these bullshit scripted ‘unscripted’ shows,” says Barnard) being pitched to local stations by comedy writer and network producer Bo Kaprall (Laverne & Shirley, Hoarders, Comedy Central). Barnard says local channels 23, 29, and 45 have expressed interest.
It sounds far-fetched, but who knows? “You would always be smart to yield to Tom on business acumen,” says Shelby. “He’s made wise choices. That’s why I trust him on the podcast [venture].”
So the inevitable concluding question is a crass one: Just how much money has Tom Barnard made over the years in one lucrative niche after another? He won’t quite say, but he’ll meet you halfway: “My net worth is less than Joe Mauer makes in a year.” (Mauer is paid $23 million annually playing for the Twins.)
Not bad for a washed-up voiceover man.
This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.
***The podcast business plan
If radio is the British Empire in decline, digital—and podcasting in particular—is the Wild West. Compass Point Media’s Noah Everist notes that “local podcasts have not been a factor in our [buying] negotiations.” He hedges, though, noting that “podcasting, as a distribution channel, is one [breakout] program away from becoming mainstream. . . Until that happens, it will be a niche way to provide custom content to a select few.” Tom Barnard and his nephew Sean are trying to create and sell that program. But “most people,” admits Tom Barnard, “don’t even understand what a podcast is.”
The Tom Barnard podcast “is simply about harnessing Tom’s biggest fans,” says Sean Barnard. No one is under any illusion about the secret sauce.
“This audience is not turning in for the subject matter, they are turning in for Tom,” says co-host Don Shelby. “That’s his power and that’s his gift. His audience is as loyal as any in the nation.”
The ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining daily program and then a network of other podcasts.
Podcasting in today’s radio industry usually means digital archives of previous on-air content. Non-broadcast podcasts are usually narrow-focus specialty programming with limited audiences. There are few nationally influential podcasts—comic Adam Carolla’s is regarded as the most listened to (400,000 downloads a day)—but Barnard believes even the largest use them as a platform for promoting other aspects of their brands.
“I will probably be the first local podcast to do a million dollars in strictly local revenue,” Barnard says.
An advertising-based revenue model was one both Tom and Sean Barnard knew and were comfortable with. “[Only] 10 percent of people surveyed a couple years ago said they would pay [to subscribe] to a podcast,” Sean Barnard recalls.
Tom Barnard says the podcast was not in the black in 2013, but did bring in $250,000 in revenue as it built “case studies” for advertisers. “The goal is to double the listenership,” says Sean Barnard, who noted at 2013’s end that he had $300,000 in revenue already on the books for 2014, with a goal of $800,000, which would make the podcast nicely profitable.
Walser Automotive Group and R.F. Moeller Jewelers—two advertising relationships that date to the mid-2000s on KQRS—are early sponsors. Though podcasts can be streamed anywhere there is Internet bandwidth, the Barnards are focused on Twin Cities listenership because that’s where the advertisers are. “Right now, national advertising is difficult,” Sean Barnard says, “because the industry lacks uniform analytics.”
The podcast’s marketing approach is multifaceted. “There’s a lot of sharing of the brand on social media, getting people to be brand ambassadors,” Sean Barnard says. But there are also 101 Metro Transit buses around town with the podcast’s ad.
The business incurred roughly $250,000 in start-up costs in 2012. Its largest ongoing overhead expenses are salaries and online bandwidth. Shelby and Tom Barnard are currently unsalaried. Shelby will get 10 percent of the net as the show generates profit.
Still, the potential is not limitless. Sponsors are served in live conversational drop-ins, not recorded ads. And Tom Barnard is reluctant to add too much advertising to a program hour, believing that heavy ad loads have made many radio shows nearly unlistenable.
“So we think from a revenue standpoint, there’s about a $2 million cap on the show,” says Sean Barnard. “We have a very finite ad inventory, rooted in a limited audience size, so you can only generate so much.”Beyond the bluster: a glimpse into the person behind the persona
Tom Barnard is both the most demonized and most successful local broadcaster. It’s an unlikely combination in a town where playing nice and keeping your head down is how you get ahead. But those closest to him say that even his most devoted listeners don’t really know him, or how pained he is over his divisive reputation.
“There’s a little boy in there who’s really vulnerable, and I think the people that love Tom see that,” says his wife and podcast co-host, Kathryn Brandt. “But this is not a man who grew up drinking tea and eating scones. He grew up in an F-U world. You’re not going to get to the sweet layer unless you’re his friend.”
“Tom’s persona is confusing,” admits Don Shelby, who has been Barnard’s consigliere, if not friend, for 35 years. “Tom has a big heart but a hair-trigger. If something bothers him, he gets angry. He’s angry because he has felt misunderstood, mistreated.”
Representative of this is Barnard’s belief that it is public knowledge at KQRS that he cut his pay twice by 50 percent to stave off large-scale layoffs, yet “nobody gave a shit. No one ever said ‘That was a nice thing that you did.’ ”
Barnard grew up on the North Side of Minneapolis, one of seven kids, raised largely by a working-class mom married to a man who suffered from schizophrenia. Despite Barnard’s current association with right-wing politics, “Tom came out of a liberal democratic household,” says Shelby. “I gave him the NBC-Esquire political typology test and he tested left of center.
“Yet friends have disavowed him, people have moved away from him,” Shelby continues. “After the Wellstone stuff he had to hire armed guards, he had thousands of death threats. It hurt him incredibly. But his makeup is to respond to that with, ‘To hell with them.’ ”
Last year, Shelby was doing news cut-ins for Barnard’s podcast in his radio anchor role at Bring Me the News, a local news aggregator for radio stations and websites. It eventually morphed into a co-host job. “The Tom on the podcast,” he says, “is the Tom I know.”
Shelby says Barnard manifests some of the typical insecurities of a self-made man: “He believes people dislike him because he’s rich and he didn’t go to college. Truth is, he’s one of the most well-read people I know, but more importantly, he’s one of the most loyal and generous people I’ve ever met.”
“Personally, if you’re not an outsider, you shouldn’t be a [fricking] artist. Like, do something else if you don’t feel like you’re set apart from other people. What have you got to say that’s different from other people? You have to be different to be an artist, because otherwise, what’s the point?” said Minneapolis interdisciplinary artist Jesse Draxler, squeezed into a booth at the CC Club recently with fellow artists Noah Harmon and Mary Gibney.
The three kindred-spirited artists make up “We’re in a Cult,” an exhibition of original work that tangentially celebrates the artist as outsider. It opens Saturday and runs through April 4 at One on One Bicycle Studio in downtown Minneapolis.
“I think you take in information a little bit differently,” said Harmon of how the artist travels the world. “I can wear a buttoned-up shirt and go into any situation, but I process things maybe differently than other people, and take that information and make something out of it. Like today I was in my studio, just painting light bulbs to look like ducks, and to me that just made total sense. Because for me the whole idea of this show is ‘lighten up, loosen up, have fun all the time.’ ”
“I don’t feel like an outsider, really, as far as the rest of the world,” said Gibney. “We all relate to people; I wouldn’t want to say we’re in this exalted group. But I do agree that you take in stuff differently, and you’re intrigued by different things that other people might not get. Any of the three of us could take any random object from this bar and make something out of it.”
All three artists are reluctant to pigeonhole their latest show with words, though all agree a sense of humor and creepiness are at the heart of the work.
“Art is kind of hard to pin down, which is why we chose this theme,” said Gibney. “Art is kind of like being in a cult. In Noah’s case, a lot of it is heads. Long lines of heads, big piles of heads. And then he puts heads and words together, and it’s kind of creepy, or just … it gives me a little thrill.”
“Noah’s work makes me uncomfortable a lot of times, and I like that,” said Draxler. “And I think that’s what us three might have in common, as well. Like Mary’s work is beautiful, but unsettling a little.”
Starting Saturday, the One on One walls will be filled with all sorts of beautifully unsettling images, including Harmon’s freakily rendered portraits of losers, Draxler’s noir take on the human psyche and Gibney’s paintings of wrestlers, criminals and sideshow freaks and workers.
“I like to look at creepy things, but I want to paint them beautifully, too,” said Gibney. “I want to give them dignity and make them beautiful. When I first saw Noah’s stuff, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I love this.’ But could I tell you exactly why I love it? You just know you like it, and you don’t try to intellectualize it or interpret it with art theory or bullshit that people think has to be behind your work.”
“I think we all have in common not trying to over-intellectualize our art,” said Draxler. “It’s just the doing it. ‘We’re in a Cult’ is just a name we chose from a list that Noah had, and from there, we all just respond to the name. I think we wrote what it’s about after we had the name. We almost had to make the name work.”
“It’s perfect, but can we tell you why? Not really,” said Gibney.
Maybe it’s better, then, to let the show’s promotional blurb do the art-'splaining:
Themes explored include extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, and elaborate fantasy worlds. Kool-Aid will be provided.
Kerissa Olmsted’s dual B.A. in Spanish and Portuguese, five years of hospitality management experience, and well-rounded extracurricular resume weren’t enough for her to break into the Twin Cities’ booming health-care field. During the summer of 2013, while taking science prerequisites at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), she applied to 20 jobs — with zero response. Her dream of a career as a licensed physical therapist was on the ropes.
A chance encounter with Brian Mogren, Director of Healthcare Partnerships for MCTC and Saint Paul College, changed her luck. Mogren runs the Central Corridor College Fellowship (C3 Fellows) program, an 18-month workforce development initiative funded by a $200,000 McKnight Foundation grant. C3 Fellows, in turn, is part of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP), a community development organization.
CCAP has brought together about a dozen of the area’s largest employers in advance of the Green Line’s opening, in order that C3 Fellows might place 200 MCTC and Saint Paul College students in fellowships at major Central Corridor health-care employers, like Regions Hospital and Fairview Medical Center, by the end of this year. According to Mike Christenson, MCTC’s Associate VP of Workforce Development, C3 Fellows is an early component of an ambitious, multi-year plan to encourage the Central Corridor’s biggest employers to hire, train, and promote local workers.OAS_AD("Middle");
“C3 Fellows is an important demonstration program,” says Christenson. By providing the educational and practical resources necessary for the Fellows to establish careers, he says, “we aim to convince talented [local] scientists to anchor their careers along the corridor and tie residents to jobs along the corridor.”
Mogren helped Olmsted spruce up her resume and navigate Fairview Health Services’ application process. It worked. In November, the North Minneapolis native got a part-time job as a rehab specialist at the Fairview facility on University and Vandalia. Her bosses fit her hours around her class schedule — “I was surprised and grateful,” she says—and even encouraged her to incorporate her skills as a yoga instructor into her work. She now leads two weekly yoga classes for patients.
“The Green Line can’t open fast enough,” she says, as she’s tired navigating rush hour between the Central Corridor and her home in North Minneapolis.Massive opportunity for cohesive community
CCAP owes its existence to the largesse of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a broad-based coalition of mostly private foundations, and the efforts of two local development experts: Louis Smith, a Minneapolis attorney whose work with South Minneapolis’s Phillips Partnership helped to spur the resurgence of the Midtown Greenway/Lake Street corridor; and Ellen Watters, a Civic Source principal whose lengthy resume includes stints as President of the Midway Chamber of Commerce and VP of Economic Development for the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce.
According to Eric Muschler, a McKnight Foundation program officer whose work intersects with CCAP’s, Smith and Watters were tasked with finding three broad areas of common interest: local personnel development, which is Smith’s forte; local procurement, which Watters leads; and placemaking, which Muschler describes as “securing the financial interests of anchor institutions by investing in the surrounding communities.”
Within each area, CCAP set medium-term goals for its members. These include boosting hiring from the 15 Central Corridor ZIP codes by 5 percent, increasing local buying by 5 percent, reaching pre-set workforce diversity benchmarks, and reducing the district’s longstanding racial employment gap.
The goals may not seem ambitious, but CCAP’s domain is massive. According to the Anchor Environmental Scan, a McKnight Foundation analysis co-authored by Burke Murphy and Matt Schmit, the Central Corridor supports 350,000 jobs, and the medical anchors alone — Regions Hospital, Fairview Health Services, United Hospital, and Hennepin County Medical Center — boast a combined payroll of nearly $5 billion.
C3 Fellows work-force development goals fit neatly into the CCAP’s imperative: to leverage the economic power of its biggest institutions — so-called “anchor institutions” — in the service of a more cohesive, prosperous community.Challenges to growth
The biggest challenge to C3 Fellows’ sustainability isn’t labor supply — there are countless aspiring health-care professionals at MCTC and Saint Paul College — but institutional demand. C3 Fellows requires an ample supply of entry-level, semi-skilled healthcare jobs, of which there are currently few. Of the 600 total positions on the Central Corridor, with initial partners at Fairview, Health Partners, HealthEast, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and Augustana, only 35 are entry-level.
The shortage, explains Christenson, is structural. Deeply entrenched protocols prevent healthcare institutions from billing for work performed by non-credentialed employees, including the students that C3 Fellows serves. Hospital positions are more credentialed than ever, with fewer entry-level opportunities.
Although 75 percent of MCTC and Saint Paul College students work while taking classes, few gain practical experience in their fields of study. “Health-care students need to be working in hospitals,” says Christenson, “not Holiday stations.”
The area’s students do know their way around the workplace. Kerissa Olmsted is far from the only C3 Fellow with an eye-catching resume.
“The average age of both Saint Paul College and MCTC students is 28 years old,” says Mogren, and “many are working professionals going back to school to gain additional skills or to take their careers to the next level.”
Health care is a great place to start, however, and Mogren and Christenson intend to “make our goal [of 200 fellows],” says Christenson. They’re also planning to expand into other areas, such as manufacturing and technology. Since many modern jobs demand formal certificates and degrees, he adds, there’s enormous potential for programs that “promote both educational and employment opportunities for students who come from communities [that are] traditionally underserved by higher education,” which includes some communities along the Green Line.
Another challenge is negotiating procurement contracts with anchors to create jobs. Watters cites a recent “paradigm shift” in which anchors’ “procurement staff are rewarded for cost-savings and efficiency, while we are asking them to [buy] from smaller vendors with less of a track record,” she says. “Some of those goods and services may actually cost more in the short term.”
Still, several anchors recently inked a joint snow-removal contract with Frogtown-based Prescription Landscape. According to Muschler, the contract cut Fairview’s plowing costs by 38 percent. It may also lead Prescription to hire or subcontract with local drivers and support staff, potentially creating jobs in the neighborhood. To expedite the process, CCAP is providing Prescription with training and hiring assistance.Transit, housing, educational initiatives
According to Watters, CCAP is working closely with Metro Transit and certain anchors to procure discounted bus and rail passes for students and workers from participating institutions—in time for the Green Line’s June 14 opening. Other transit-related initiatives include a long-term effort to improve “last-mile” connections for students and workers who live near, but not on, the Green Line — the revamped express bus service on Snelling Avenue is just one component of this — as well as new or remodeled transit centers at or near anchor institutions.
Meanwhile, CCAP is pairing with the Minnesota Housing Partnership to educate anchor-institution employees about affordable homeownership options along the Green Line. The most visible product of this effort is a comprehensive brochure that highlights specific neighborhoods within the district and offers information about housing loans, assistance, and other resources.
In addition to the C3 Fellows program, CCAP’s personnel development work includes Scrubs Camp, a weeklong summer camp that introduces local high-school students to the healthcare industry. The brainchild of Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg College, Scrubs Camp recruits about 100 talented youngsters per season from the West Bank and other Green Line neighborhoods. Saint Paul College also hosts a Scrubs Camp each summer with CCAP support.
CCAP is also forging closer links between the district’s two community colleges and local four-year institutions. MCTC and Augsburg, for instance, attracted 400 applicants for just 100 spots at their brand-new, three-year RN program, and the University of Minnesota now offers a fourth-year master’s option for successful graduates. St. Catherine University is exploring ways to align with MCTC and Saint Paul College as well.Leveraging anchor institutions’ economic power
CCAP’s ultimate aim is to generate a positive feedback loop — to “turn these initiatives into institutional behavior,” as Muschler puts it. The “anchor institution strategy” — leveraging the economic power of large inner-city employers, like hospitals and schools (“Eds and Meds,” as they’re known) — has a long, generally successful history.
Muschler points to Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where the University of Chicago offers robust incentives to employees who live within a few blocks of campus, and Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor, where Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University have poured billions of dollars into transit improvements, workforce development initiatives, and local procurement efforts.
These areas — and other places where the anchor strategy has been successfully implemented, like Detroit’s Midtown corridor and East Baltimore’s “Eds and Meds” cluster — are vibrant and inviting, to be sure. They’re also surrounded, and dwarfed, by far less fortunate neighborhoods that continue to suffer from disinvestment and neglect.
The Central Corridor has struggled with similar issues, but its existing social institutions and economic assets — not to mention Minnesota’s entrenched culture of civic engagement and public-private partnerships — provide CCAP with a firm base on which to build. For job seekers like Kerissa Olmsted, there’s light at the ends, and in the middle, of the Green Line.
This article is reprinted in partnership with The Line, an online chronicle of Twin Cities creativity in entrepreneurship, culture, retail, placemaking, the arts, and other elements of the new creative economy. Brian Martucci is The Line’s innovation and jobs news editor.
State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, has proposed a community ownership model for the governance structure of the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA), with a holding corporation selling shares in the MOA to the community, similar to the Green Bay Packers’ model. On Feb. 25, she introduced H.R. 1930, a bill that would set in motion a change in governance structure that was never intended by the MOA’s founders.
During my research into MOA’s governance for a three-part series on my Eyes on Life blog, I learned that the founders had something very different in mind.
Article II of the Articles of Incorporation, filed in 1907, created a membership of the association, one in which anyone could join as long as he or she paid the annual dues. This ensured that people dedicated to artistic excellence and classical music governed the association. Loss of membership occurred if the member stopped paying annual dues. A membership governance structure for nonprofit corporations is governed by Minnesota Statute 317A.
Each member held the right to one vote, either in person or by proxy. The members elected a board of directors out of their diverse membership to govern the association. And the board, out of its membership, elected the officers. The founders meant for the officers and board to be accountable to the membership, as well as serving the wider community in Minneapolis and Minnesota.
In Minnesota, nonprofit corporations can choose whether or not they want a membership governance structure. I propose that a membership governance structure be implemented again for the current MOA to ensure that the board will answer to and be acccountable to a diverse group.'No capital stock'
The dues could be $100 annually for adults, perhaps offering other levels such as student, family, and institutional (for companies, businesses, and schools). Unlike Kahn’s idea, it respects and obeys the founders’ Article III: “There shall be no capital stock of this corporation.” They showed they wanted the association to be solidly nonprofit, with no possibility of anyone to own any part of it or have expectations of a monetary return on their investment. The membership structure preserves the association’s nonprofit status.
Originally, members benefitted simply by being members of an association dedicated to the performance of the best in classical music and to the creation of education programs about classical music. The founders didn’t specify any other benefits in the original articles.
Today’s association, however, could offer additional benefits, such as single ticket or subscription package discounts, attending rehearsals, periodic receptions with the musicians, and so on. A student benefit could include a “concert card” that would give the holder one ticket to a subscription concert for a substantial discount. A family benefit could include discounted family concert series subscriptions. For an institutional benefit, perhaps offer a block of free tickets to a specific number of concerts each season.
Currently, anyone can buy tickets to any concert they want to attend. That would not change under the membership model. In addition, anyone would be able contribute to the MOA, either to the endowment, for operating expenses, or specific artistic initiatives, be they members or not. I propose that guest artists also receive an invitation to become members of the association.Preserving accountability
Under this governance structure, the board would be accountable to the membership, without an expectation of a monetary return on investment, but with a sense of ownership and governing participation in the future of the MOA.
Technology eases the logistics of communicating with a large local, regional, national and international membership. Voting could be done via the internet – many corporations already do this for their shareholders.
The Articles of Incorporation would need to be re-stated in compliance with Minnesota Statute 317A and re-filed with the Secretary of State, and the association’s bylaws revised. I propose that the bylaws include specific job descriptions for the board and officers, including conditions under which they can be removed.
It could also take some time to re-establish the membership structure. I believe, however, that it is the strongest governance structure for the MOA for the future of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Minnesota writer Gina Hunter blogs about the Minnesota Orchestra, health care, and other topics of current interest at Eyes on Life.WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you're interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at email@example.com.)
from LeftMN by Tony Petrangelo
A couple of weeks ago now the StarTribune released the results of their Minnesota poll. That poll showed Governor Mark Dayton with his highest approval ratings (58 approve, 29 disapprove) since he became Governor back in 2011. There is now confirmation that Mark Dayton is in an excellent position for re-election with the release, by KSTP, of a poll conducted by their preferred pollster, SurveyUSA.Will Minnesota finally invest in rural internet?
from Minnesota Brown by Aaron Brown
You’d better believe that when an Iron Range mine has the technology to run its trucks and shovels with a sophisticated wireless system, it will. It’s not if, it’s when. So let’s have the broadband infrastructure available so the Iron Range economy survives with engineers, designers and entrepreneurs working from our towns and our woods through the wires of the world.OAS_AD("Middle");Bar hopping, Minnesota blogger style
from Minnesota Prairie Roots by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Poking around in my photo files recently, I noticed that I often photograph liquor store/bar signs and buildings in small towns. Why? I’m not much of a drinker.
I suspect it’s a combination of factors. Bars often serve as gathering places. Sometimes a bar may even remain as the sole business in a rural community. And, more often than not, they display one-of-a-kind signs that have been around for awhile.
Join me on a photographic bar hop to some of Minnesota’s small towns and larger communities. Cheers.GreenCardVoices.com: A project to document our nation of immigrants
from Thoughts Towards a Better World by Dick Bernard
The dream of the project is to video-document first generation immigrants with more than five years in the U.S. from all of the world’s countries (196 in all). These stories can then be shared broadly in various ways. It’s a very ambitious undertaking, but doable with adequate funding support from persons like ourselves.Snapshot profile: A year in Hockeytown USA
from Snapshot by Kristen Neurer
If you haven’t heard about Warroad, Minnesota lately, you just haven’t been paying attention. As the tiny northern hometown to two Olympians that played for the men’s and women’s hockey teams this year, the press were swarming. Warroad has a hockey legacy that includes a history of producing big-time players; players like T.J. Oshie, Gigi Marvin, Dave Christian, Henry Boucha, and Roger Christian. It is not uncommon for talented kids to move there just to play hockey. My brother Aaron was one of them. Following his dream changed his life in ways he couldn’t have anticipated. Here is his story.
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The 911 system is smartphone-ready, says a WCCO-TV report: “All emergency call centers across Minnesota have switched over to the Next Generation 911 network, otherwise known as NG911, reports CBS Minnesota. NG911, which was first implemented in the state in Carver County in November 2011, will reportedly help call centers handle data transmitted from smartphones. … [911 program manager Dana] Wahlberg says that to this day many people in Minnesota still think they can text to 911, but unfortunately they can't.”
Q-Comp is under the microscope today … Christopher Magan at the PiPress says: “State lawmakers will discuss Friday how the state's existing bonus program for teachers and a new system to evaluate their work may co-exist. The House Education Policy committee is expected to review several bills dealing with the existing Quality Compensation program, or Q-Comp, and a new teacher evaluation system set to begin across the state in the fall.”
Don’t hold your breath for Sunday liquor sales. Don Davis of the Forum News Service says,:“Sen. Roger Reinert, D-Duluth, has introduced seven bills that to varying degrees allow Sunday sales, including some that make minor changes in existing state law that bans liquor store sales. House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, has said he does not see how the House goes from the repeal receiving 20 votes in the past to a repeal passing this year. Reinert agreed. ‘We are not there yet,’ Reinert said of a full repeal of current law.” Doug Grow has MinnPost coverage here.
Unlike the captain of the hockey team, they may not date cheerleaders, but as a group they’ve got mojo … A trio of Duluth News Tribune writers say: “Robotics has been popping up all over Minnesota high schools and taking the state by storm, growing from two to 207 teams in 11 years. So why this fascination with a sport — or a sport for the mind, as some call it — that, over the past school year, fielded more teams than varsity hockey? … In 2006, the first Minnesota robotics teams, the Green Machine of Edina and the Robosabres (since disbanded) from Faribault were formed. … The excitement of FIRST Robotics caught on in the state and 13 teams were formed in 2007, followed by 33 the next year.”
At 62, his foot speed might not be what it once was … Gretchen Schlosser of the Forum folks says: “A former professional wrestler has been found guilty of 12 charges of criminal sexual conduct, and a district judge will weigh several factors in determining the severity of the sentence. The guilty verdicts were returned Wednesday afternoon against Eugene Otto Zumhofe, 62, of Cyrus, in Kandiyohi County District Court. … Zumhofe, a former pro wrestler known as ‘Buck Rock 'N' Roll Zumhofe’ in the 1980s and early 1990s, was taken into custody after the verdicts were read. He tried to run from the courthouse before being subdued by court security officers.”
At Watchdog.org, Mary Tillotson looks at the bill to tighten control of under-performing charter schools and says: “Charter school authorizers in Minnesota whose schools fall in the lowest 25 percent of public schools could be required to close those schools or submit an explanation to the state. A Minnesota bill would increase charter school accountability — but some say it would overregulate schools that need to be independent. That’s if state Senate Bill 836 passes. Charter school supporters are split over whether the legislation from state Sen. Terri Bonoff would strengthen or weaken charter schools in the state where the movement began.”
If it weren’t for the snow, the spray of filthy slush, the temperature, the potholes, the absence of sunlight and the insulated clothing, it looks a lot like the east end of the L.A. basin out there today. Again from the Forum News Service: “People in the eastern two-thirds of Minnesota are under an air pollution health alert Friday. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued the alert this morning, saying air quality is unhealthy for groups of people … . Pollution problems are blamed on a strong temperature inversion accompanied by melting snow and morning fog. The combination is trapping fine particles near the ground.”
If you don’t stop that damned grunting … Richard Chin of the PiPress says: “Three men got into a fight at a Roseville, Minn., gym in which weight plates and barbells were tossed around, according to criminal complaints filed in Ramsey County District Court. Police were called to the LA Fitness, 2420 Cleveland Ave. in the Twin Cities suburb, on Sunday to respond to a call of 10 to 15 people fighting, according to the complaints alleging gross misdemeanor charges of third-degree participation in a riot.” OK, I’ll bite. What’s “second-degree participation”?
The Kings of Leon rock band got a couple of rough reviews for their work at Target Center last night. The Strib’s Jon Bream, who may get out too much, grumped: “[L]ike the Eagles last year in front of a full house at the same venue, Kings of Leon sounded pristine — just like their albums. But, like the Eagles, they had all the stage presence of the animatronic band at Chuck E. Cheese.”
Meanwhile, Emily Eveland at City Pages rips away, saying: “At their Target Center stop on the Mechanical Bull tour last night, the Followill brothers and cousin stayed on their respective sides of the stage, made little effort to engage the crowd (or one another, for that matter), and Caleb sort of looked like he wanted to die,” before concluding with: “It's not that they played poorly. Quite the contrary, actually. Their musicianship was flawless and Caleb clearly has a gift for live singing, he just doesn't appear to care about, well, anything.” Tough crowd. If you weren’t expecting a cross between Springsteen and Kanye West, it was a very entertaining show … and Gary Clark Jr., the opening act, will be a big deal real soon.
Writing for Mother Jones, Chris Mooney compiles five instances, from the work of political psychology and especially the work for Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, in which presenting experimental subjects with evidence that what they believed was inaccurate tended to make them even more certain that what they believed was true.
Or perhaps I should say "what they wanted to believe." I want to believe (it's sort of the religion of the ink-stained-wretch crowd) that facts and logic are important and even influential in the Sisyphean task of "informing the electorate." But apostasy beckons.
Hat tip: Paul Udstrand.
One would think, or at least hope, that three-quarters of the way through the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves would know what they had and how to use it — how to exploit their strengths and camouflage their weaknesses. One would similarly hope that at this late stage the team would be aware of their precarious position in the playoff race and the potentially seismic impact it could have on the near-term future of the franchise if they fail to make the postseason for the 10th straight year.
But the Wolves have been all about teasing and dashing, raising and dousing hopes this season. It’s been a frustrating roller coaster, less for the thrills and chills of the highs and lows than for the mundane mediocrity almost regardless of circumstance.
In the realms of aesthetics and analytics, the Wolves appear to be an eminently satisfying outfit. They boast a superstar in Kevin Love who is one of the top five players in the NBA this season. They abet him with such memorable characters as center Nikola Pekovic, the twirling block of granite ideally typecast to the World’s Strongest Man in a barnstorming circus troupe from the late 19th century; point guard Ricky Rubio, who wows the crowd at least once or twice per game with his nonpareil court vision and magical dimes; and swingman Corey Brewer, a dilapidated dervish of uncontrolled energy, flipping his whippet-thin physique around the court like a scrap of paper in the pre-thunderstorm gusts.
With Rubio and Brewer combining for more steals than any tandem in the NBA and Love heaving touchdown outlet strikes to a streaking Brewer in transition, the Wolves play at the third-fastest pace and score the fourth-most points of any team in the league. According to the latest statistics from Basketball Reference, they are ninth among the 30 teams in offensive efficiency (points scored per possession) and 10th in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession). The “expected won-lost” record arising out of those numbers is currently 38-22, which would place the Wolves sixth in the Western Conference and virtually assured of the playoffs.
But the colorful characters and the gaudy numbers ultimately amount to an elaborate façade. Minnesota has never been more than three games above or four games below .500 this season. They have played games in six calendar months thus far, from October to March, and at the end of each month they are no more than one game above or below .500. Their current record is 30-30.
Put another way, we keep waiting for these Wolves to catch fire, but that damp, steady flickering — never extinguished yet never in full, consuming conflagration — has been remarkably, disconcertingly, constant. The nagging question then becomes, is this due to a net paucity of firepower, or in the way in which the components for the fire have been arrayed?Stop staying the course
If Minnesota simply lacks the requisite talent to snag even the lowest rung on the playoff ladder in the brutally competitive Western Conference, so be it. Fans of the team will look on from an increasingly jaded distance as President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders and his staff engage in a very difficult and complicated review and revamping this summer.
But since the Wolves have already put themselves in relatively desperate straits — they are five games out of the final playoff spot with 22 games remaining, and must leapfrog over at least two teams to make it — it seems like the right time to abandon the reliably mediocre status quo and poke that flickering fire a few times in a last-ditch effort to inject new life into the season. Here’s my list of reasonably desperate measures.Ride the superstar
Kevin Love currently ranks 15th in the NBA at 36.3 minutes per game. That number needs to be bumped up four or five minutes and concentrated in the second half of close games for the rest of the season.
As the season has progressed, the performance gap between Love and the rest of his teammates has inexorably lengthened. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how dominant he has become to the team’s overall fortunes. Per Basketball Reference, the Wolves improve by 17.3 points per 100 possessions when Love plays, compared with when he sits. In terms of basic arithmetic, Minnesota is plus 384 in 2,071 minutes with Love and minus 155 in 719 minutes without him.
Bottom line, the Wolves can no longer afford the luxury of resting Love at the beginning of fourth quarters. Wednesday night’s horrible home loss to the 21-40 Knicks was the latest reminder — the Wolves were down two at the onset of the period and behind by 11 when coach Rick Adelman inserted him back in 4:20 seconds later.
For the season, Love has played 353 fourth quarter minutes, an average of 6.9 minutes per game. The early-quarter break has not helped him much — his shooting percentage from the field and the three-point line are his lowest of any period — nor has it benefitted the team. The Wolves are plus 1 with Love in the final quarter, and minus 134 without him.
Unless the circumstances are really extreme, Love has to get at least a little bit of a blow in the second half. I suggest sitting him the final two or three minutes of the third quarter, so he doesn’t lose the break between periods tacked on to his rest. That time can be given to Dante Cunningham beside Pekovic, so that Cunningham is warmed up when Love replaces Pek to start the fourth — essentially flipping the way Adelman uses Love and Pekovic now.
Whether it is psychological or physical, the first six minutes of the fourth quarter have been the Wolves’ undoing for much of the season. Knowing that the superstar is there for the duration of it, if necessary, addresses the problem either way.Make Love’s teammates earn the right to play with him
Love is so dominant that he makes everybody who plays with him look good on the stat sheet. Consequently, one possibly effective way to judge a player’s performance, and apportion key minutes, is to determine who makes Love better.
According to the “lineups” section for Love at Basketball Reference, the team is most effective — plus 11.5 points per 100 possessions — when he is paired with Cunningham. Among the starters, Love and the team are most effective when he is with Rubio (9.8 points per 100 possessions), followed by Pekovic (9.5), Brewer (9.1) and Martin (6.8). Since the Wolves are plus 8.8 points per 100 possessions when Love plays overall, Martin is the lone starter who actually hinders Love’s standard production.
One reason for this, of course, is that Martin is a wretched defender, and Love is, at best, average at that end of the court. But what’s fascinating about the Basketball Reference data is that the team’s shooting percentage, from both two-point and three-point territory, actually declines when Love and K-Mart share the court. In fact, only backup center Ronny Turiaf has a bigger drag than Martin on the team’s shooting accuracy in two-man pairings with Love.
And yes, the two foul-drawing maestros do compensate by getting to the line an extra 12 times per 100 possessions (compared with the team norm) when playing together, but the Wolves take — and make — more free throws per 100 possessions when Love is paired with Cunningham or Rubio.
Given the agonizingly slow but still relatively steady recuperation of Chase Budinger, who is plus 8.7 points per 100 possessions when paired with Love, it makes sense to give Budinger more time with the current starters, especially when Martin is in one of his curious funks. One rotation tweak would be to sub in Budinger midway through the first period and bring Martin in with the second unit at the end of the first or beginning of the second quarter, when his scoring prowess would be more in need and his matador defense could be at least partially compensated for by rugged front court backup Gorgui Dieng, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Turiaf (when healthy). Playing Martin with rookie Shabazz Muhammad might also provide spacing that would benefit Muhammad in the low post and Martin on the perimeter.
As for Cunningham, his complementary skills beside Love only reinforces the need to have the pair out there together early in the fourth quarter. As it now stands, Cunningham and Pek are the early fourth-quarter frontcourt — a two-player combo that is minus 6.4 points per 100 possessions. If you are going to be crippled by that duo, have it happen in the third quarter so there is time to recover.Limit J.J. Barea
There is no more blatant emblem of the Wolves’ dysfunction and underachievement this season than the play of Barea. Not only has he been miscast as a backup point guard, but he has been allowed to log a lost wealth of crunchtime minutes at that spot while Rubio languishes on the bench.
Barea has his utility. When he is hot and in rhythm, he can be a legitimate sparkplug and rallying force for the second unit.
But Barea is also a brat who acts out when he isn’t receiving his perception of adequate playing time. And because the Wolves both added capable wing players and have Rubio healthy for the first time in Barea’s three seasons in Minnesota, his minutes have fallen from 25.2 to 23.1 down to 18.3 this season — time that is logged without an enabling fellow combo guard such as Luke Ridnour beside him.
The fallout has been disastrous. Barea is shooting more frequently than in any season in his eight-year career, yet his true shooting percentage is the lowest since his rookie season. He does not benefit Love — the pair are plus 5.2 points per 100 possessions together, Love’s lowest total with any teammate but Turiaf. When Barea is in the game, the Wolves field goal percentage declines .042 and they are a net minus 3.8 points per 100 possessions.
Solution: Unless the Wolves are way behind and in need of a Hail Mary performance, keep Barea out of meaningful minutes, especially when it is close in the fourth quarter. Yes, I know he gets upset. Get more upset in return. The next time Barea launches a screw-you jumper with Rubio at the scorer’s table ready to come in to the game, bring on A.J. Price to run the point in the next rotation. And be surprised at how well the ball moves.Make Rubio three-pointers part of the crunchtime offense
I am among the guilty scribes who have transformed the shooting woes of Ricky Rubio into a modern legend. You can’t argue with the numbers, which, although they have improved of late, still have Rubio shooting 36.8 percent from the field, with a true shooting percentage of 48.2 — both well below the NBA average and keeping him on track to become the least accurate shooting point guard in modern NBA history.
But part of Rubio’s woes can be attributed to his shot selection, specifically his disinclination not to rely more on three-pointers for his individual offense.
Thus far this season in the NBA, three-pointers have made up 25.6 percent of the total field goal attempts — the portion is undoubtedly higher among back court players. Yet just 20.3 percent of Rubio’s field goal attempts are from long range. And that is absurd.
Rubio happens to be the third-most accurate three-point shooter on the team, behind only Martin and Love, at 34.7 percent. So, every time you watch Corey Brewer launch from the corner — or Budinger, Barea, Hummel, Shved, you name it — know that Rubio from long range is a statistically better bet.
This is important because poor shooting is the most persuasive argument for why Rubio sits in the fourth quarter so often. But by the very nature of that argument — defenses sag down and double-team others, daring Rubio to shoot — the evidence is that Rubio will be granted the time and the space to set himself and let fly from behind the arc in the late stages of a close game. And, as he showed with his crucial crunchtime trey in the recent win over Sacramento, when Rubio takes his time and gets set, his long-range accuracy goes up even further.
Not only would a few Rubio threes in crunchtime immediately benefit the Wolves, it would compel defenses to respect Rubio and open up spacing and passing lanes for the offense. And Rubio with space to dish is good news for Minnesota.
The clear-cut precedent for this dynamic is Jason Kidd, who extended his career at least four or five seasons by concentrating on almost nothing but three-pointers for his own scoring, utilizing a skill set very similar to Rubio’s.
It offers the Wolves a tad better chance of improving their awful fourth quarter performance than relying on Barea to get things done.As much as possible, play one-way players only one way
One of the difficulties with the current Wolves roster is the dearth of two-way players — versatile performers who are adept at both the offensive and defensive end. As the season winds down and every possession becomes that much more important to Minnesota’s longshot playoff hopes, it is time to micromanage substitutions to maximize these lopsided skill sets.
Specifically, as much as possible, Martin should not play defense and Mbah a Moute should not play offense. If that means filtering people in and out whenever there is a stoppage in play for free throws, then that’s what should happen.
I also wish for more specific matchup minutes according to situation. The Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony torched the Wolves for 33 points on 14-for-27 shooting Wednesday night. The player who guarded Anthony the most was Brewer, who was ceding 45 pounds of mostly muscle in the encounter.
Minnesota had a wing stopper on the bench who is listed at the exact same height and weight as Melo’s 6-8, 240 pounds, a player who has had good success matching up with Melo in the past. But Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was allowed on 3:24 of playing time. When first matched up with Melo, Anthony faked a shot and then blew past Mbah a Moute for a baseline layup. But soon afterward, Mbah a Moute stole the ball and initiated a transition layup at the other end. Overall, he was plus 1 in his limited time, in a game his team lost by 12.
Time is running out. Minnesota needs to exploit its strengths and camouflage its weaknesses. Otherwise, recriminations beckon.
According to a famous Lincolnian phrase (from the Gettysburg Address, no less), ours is a "government of the people, by the people...") But if you look at who governs, what we have is a "government of the people by the rich people," Duke University political scientist Nicholas Carnes told a Minneapolis audience Thursday.
For the most part, Carnes isn't talking about the power of the Koch Brothers, George Soros or other billionaire contributors. He's talking simply about the class background of those who hold office.
About 54 percent of Americans have held a blue-collar job for a substantial portion of their adulthood, Carnes has found. The portion of those serving in Congress who come from a blue-collar background is less than 2 percent.
On the other hand, those with a net worth of at least $1 million constitute about 3 percent of the U.S. population. Yet millionaires constitute a majority of the current members of the U.S. House, a supermajority of the Senate, a majority of the current membership of the Supreme Court, and one out of one of the current occupants of the Oval Office.
In fact, at least since World War II, we haven't had a president who worked with his hands for any substantial portion of his life, Carnes said.
Does it make any difference in how they govern? Carnes has studied the voting and legislative history of members of Congress and he says yes, a big difference. Government by the rich leads to government policies "that are good for the haves and not good for the have-nots."
Carnes (who hung drywall in early adulthood and who makes no secret of his sympathy for blue-collar workers) believes that a period spent working in a blue-collar job seems to shape the way a future office-holder looks at the world.Boehner example
House Speaker John Boehner, he says, grew up in modest circumstances and was the first in his family to go to college. But out of college, Boehner got a job with a sales company and by the time he went to Congress was president of the company. Boehner likes to tell audiences that he looks at issues through the eyes of a small businessman. Fair enough. But when issues like the current hot topic of raising the minimum wage come up, looking at the world through the eyes of a small businessman versus through the eyes of an hourly wage-earner is likely to lead to a different result.
By the way, it's not that the electorate generally won't vote for a former blue-collar worker. Carnes' study concludes that those with such backgrounds have about the same chance of winning elections as those who have never worked with their hands. It's that blue-collar workers generally don't run for office.Nicholas Carnes
And another "by the way," Carnes' analysis is not about whether a future politician grew up rich or poor. Several post-war presidents, including the current incumbent, grew up relatively poor. But they managed to get to college (and, in several cases, law school) without going through a period of working at a blue-collar job. Carnes has tried to study members of Congress based on whether their parents had a blue-collar or a white-collar background. He found it makes no significant difference in how they govern. The key is what the future politician did for a living before going into politics.
And one last "by the way." If you are thinking (as I was) that the role of campaign money in politics, and especially its role in the recent post-Citizens United years, is the key to his findings, Carnes says no. Historically, Congress has always been a rich man's club.
Carnes' book on the topic of this research is "White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making."
Carnes spoke at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School. The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance put together a small panel of elected officials with blue-collar backgrounds to react to his study.
State Rep. Debra Keil (R-Crookston) said she is one of just six farmers in the Legislature and finds herself often in a position of needing to add a farmer's perspective to discussion with lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (D-Cook) is a carpenter by trade. He found an occasion during the panel to bring up one of his pet peeves from discussions with legislators who have no experiences with construction trades. During bonding sessions, when the state is preparing to finance a bunch of big-road, infrastructure and building projects, he often hears legislative colleagues say about the jobs created by those projects that they aren't "real jobs." Apparently, he hears that a lot. Apparently, it really frosts him.
WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Norm Coleman's American Action Network is including U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in a $1 million national ad buy against nine vulnerable Democrats.
AAN's ad highlights the Obama administration's proposed cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. The administration says the cuts would reduce payments by less than 2 percent, but the industry argues they could be worth up to 6 percent.
Officials initially proposed a similar round of cuts to Medicare Advantage last year, but the idea was eventually abandoned and the program actually received a boost in funding.
The 30-second ad focuses on Obama's early promises that the Affordable Care Act wouldn't reduce Medicare payments, makes its warnings about the proposed cuts this year, and highlights Nolan's support for the law.
American Action Network spent $50,000 on Nolan's portion of the ad buy. The ad will run on Duluth-Superior cable for a couple of weeks, according to a group spokeswoman. Three Democratic senators and one other House member are targets of television ads; AAN is going after four additional House members with other digital ads, according to Politico.
American Action Network spent heavily against Nolan during his 2012 challenge against then-Rep. Chip Cravaack. Republicans think Nolan, who won that race by 9 points, is vulnerable this cycle, and conservative groups have already poured money into this race: Americans For Prosperity spent $225,000 on TV ads against Nolan last December.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current law and White House's proposed childless worker EITC parametersCurrent lawProposalPhase-in rate7.65%15.3%Phases in up to$6,570$6,570Maximum credit$503$1,005Phase-out rate7.65%15.3%Phase-out starts*$8,220$11,500Phase-out ends*$14,790$18,070*Under both current law and the proposal, levels are $5,500 higher for married filers.Source: The White House State House passes tax bill State EITC spin-offs % of Federal EITC Maryland25/50 Wisconsin4–34 Minnesota33 (avg.) Vermont32 New York30 Connecticut25 Rhode Island25 Virginia20 Delaware20 New Jersey20 Kansas17 Massachusetts15 Iowa14 Washington10 Colorado10 New Mexico10 Nebraska10 Illinois10 Indiana9 Oregon8 Michigan6 Oklahoma5 Ohio5 Maine5 Louisiana3.5 Source: Stateline
Congressman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election, will appear March 17 in Minneapolis at a private roundtable and a luncheon.
Sponsored by the Center of the American Experiment, the appearance at the Hilton Minneapolis has two parts:
- Private Roundtable, 11:30 a.m., $5,000 per person
- Luncheon, noon to 1 p.m., $100 per person
Organizers are using this quote from Ryan, who is the chair of the House Budget Committe, to promote the event:
“We spend $1 trillion more than we take in each year. In fact, we spend $3 for every $2 we take in. And we can’t keep that up. If we stay on this path, our finances will collapse. The economy will stall. And the most vulnerable will suffer. We need a budget that reflects our priorities — that expands opportunity. The fact is, we cannot achieve those goals unless we budget responsibly.”
Among the many groups heading to the Capitol in the early days of the session is a consortium of home builders' associations from around Minnesota, who say they've got lots to tell their legislators.
The Builders Association of the Twin Cities, along with the Builders Association of Minnesota and 13 local home builders associations from around the state, will hold "Builder Day" on Wednesday, when they'll let legislators know what kind of changes they want to see in state law.
The groups say that home building is seeing a steady recovery after a historic slowdown, but challenges remain. Included in their agenda:
- Regulatory burden: Minnesota, they say, has the highest regulatory burden in the Midwest and one of the highest in the country, with between 25 and 35 percent of the final sales price of a home attributed to regulatory costs. While the industry supports regulations that benefit home buyers and the community, it is prepared to fight against regulations that are unneeded and unwarranted.
- Home indoor sprinkler mandate: One looming regulation that the industry is fighting to halt would require home indoor sprinklers in all new single-family homes at 4,500 square feet or greater (including unfinished basements). This is a provision included in the next version of the Minnesota State Building Code, and one which 41 out of the 43 states which have considered the mandate have already rejected.
- B2B taxes: Like most in the business community, home builders, remodelers and all of their associated companies are concerned with the business-to-business labor service tax enacted last year.
They're also concerned about issues involving statewide building-code enforcement, subcontractor registration procedures and the Metropolitan Council's growth policy.
In the big picture of important issues, Sunday sales of liquor probably doesn’t rank up there with improved transit, funding for education, tax rates, employment opportunity and minimum wage increases.
Yet, efforts to repeal the state’s blue laws always draw a media crowd because this is one of those issues that affects every Minnesotan who might want to buy a bottle of wine on Sunday.
And so it was Thursday that Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, got a full house of reporters and television cameras when they unveiled the newest plan to repeal the state’s liquor sales ban.
Unlike previous efforts, the two legislators offered a plan that gives legislators seven approaches to ending the perplexing ban.
“We’re taking a different approach,’’ said Reinert. “We’re offering everything from full repeal to local options.’’Range of options
At least one of the approaches, banning sales on Saturday instead of Sunday, is Reinert’s tongue-in-cheek way of point out to how bizarre he thinks the Sunday ban is.
Besides the Saturday ban, Reinert/Loon are offering legislators the following menu:
- Full repeal of the sales restrictions;
- A bill that repeals the ban but gives municipalities the option of having restrictions;
- A bill that would allow municipalities to choose to allow sales on Sundays;
- Allowing craft breweries to sell “growlers” on Sundays;
- Allowing tap rooms to sell alcohol on Sundays;
- A constitutional amendment that would allow the voters to decision whether the blue law should be lifted.
(By the way, the term “growler” — like so much in our culture — was new to me. Turns out a growler is a glass or ceramic jug used to transport beer. You get the growler filled at your neighborhood craft brewer, lug it home and return for refills as needed.)'Baby steps'
Both Loon and Reinert admit that allowing growler sales and sales at tap rooms would be “baby steps.’‘Rep. Roger Reinert
But the reality is that even baby steps will be difficult to accomplish. Liquor laws are risky. You never know what groups might be offended by a change. Typically, legislators like to let sleeping dogs lie.
Yet, Reinert keeps pointing out that it is the 21st century and that on other issues, legislators have acknowledged that times have changed.
“We’re the state that legalized gay marriage, we’re a state where a committee has passed a bill that legalized medicinal marijuana, but we can’t buy a bottle of wine on Sunday,’’ said Reinert.
As it is, Minnesota is in company with 11 other states, many in the Bible Belt, that prohibit Sunday sales: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Montana and Utah.
This does not seem like typical Minnesota company. But there’s a simple reason Minnesota is hanging out with this crowd of states.Lobbyists powerful on issue
“A classic case of lobbying,’’ Reinert said.
The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association works the issue hard, saying that lifting the ban would not increase sales, but merely be an economic burden to the small liquor stores and municipal liquor establishments that dot the Minnesota landscape. They’d be forced to stay open, paying labor costs while not increasing sales.
Those small establishments already are having a hard time fighting the big-box liquor stores.
More than $1 million has been spent on lobbyists since this issue revved up in the 21st century.Rep. Jennifer Loon
The industry, however, isn’t united on this issue. For example, a national organization called the Distilled Spirits Council praised the Reinert-Loon effort. In a statement, the organization said that Minnesota “should become the 17th state since 2002 to pass Sunday sales legislation.’’
But what’s needed, Reinert said, is for “regular old folks’’ to connect with their legislators.
Yes, there are polls that show that more than 60 percent of the people in Minnesota want to repeal the ban. Yet, simply answering a pollster’s question is not enough.
“If you want to have it, you have to get involved,’’ Reinert said.
He says he has received more than 3,000 emails, praising his efforts to lift the ban.
But apparently many legislators haven’t felt so much as a nudge.
“There is not a bleep on my radar screen that says we need to do it,’’ said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who will vote against any effort to lift the ban.Free-market politicians split on issue
The issue divides let-the-market decide politicians.
Loon, for example, uses the free-market argument to explain her interest in pushing for repeal.
Since joing the Legislature in 2009, Loon said, she’s always looked for ways “to create more economic freedom in Minnesota. ... Some liquor store owners may not want to be open on Sunday. I’m not here to say they have to be.’’
Meantime, Limmer, who typically might argue for marketplace freedom, isn’t buying the “liberty argument.’’
“If you’re using that argument, then, maybe those businesses should be open 24-7 and we should allow them to be open across the street from playgrounds. There are reasons for having restricted hours and regulations,’’ Limmer said.
Most of all, Limmer said, legislators should “listen to the businesses’‘ before making changes.
“My prediction is that if we allowed Sunday sales, a lot of liquor store owners would go under,’’ he said. “Those big warehouse stores would move in, and we’d lose a slice of Minnesota.’’
But Reinert counters that Minnesota has changed in profound ways in the eight decades since the end of prohibition.
In most households, both spouses are working, and in many cases heads of households are working more than one job. That means, he said, that “the vast majority of shopping is done on the weekends.’’ He added that Sunday has become a bigger day to go to the market than Saturday.
Both Reinert and Loon talk about “momentum.’’ But in the next breath, they talk about “reality.’’
“You have to be realistic,’’ said Loon. “This may have to be a multi-step process.’’
About 600 people — those with mental health diagnoses, those who advocate for them and those who love and support them — all descended on the State Capitol Thursday for the annual Mental Health Day on the Hill (now more than 20 years running).
The daylong event, organized by the more than 30 members of the Mental Health Legislative Network, started with a briefing on this year’s legislative priorities, which include:
- Improving the state’s crisis response services by working with people to voluntarily engage in treatment, and allowing certified peer specialists to be a part of mobile crisis teams (H.F. 2472/S.F. 1864).
- Developing online training to ensure that the state’s civil commitment statute is being applied consistently across the state (H.F. 2320/S.F. 1731).
- Clarifying and strengthening the mental health certification for Adult Foster Care, including requiring the Department of Human Services to approve the training curriculum (H.F. 2169/S.F. 1865).
Other priorities include improving access to personal care services, restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in schools, minimizing jail time for people going through the Rule 20.01 (incompetency to stand trial) process, and renovating the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
Participants peeled off to meet with their legislators and then wrapped up the day with a Rotunda rally. “A lot of people are recommending more beds,” Sue Abderholden, president of NAMI MN, told the crowd. “But a bed is not a home. A bed is where you spend some of your time, but not all of your time. We need more homes.”
Here’s an introduction to just a few of the attendees, who talked about what brought them to the Hill, and what changes they hoped to see.MinnPost photo by Sarah T. WilliamsSanni Brown-AdefopeSanni Brown-Adefope:
I have a history of mental illness in my family — my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia. And the diagnosis pretty much led us to live in foster care. I usually talk about my foster-care story, because I’ve been fortunate with the people who were there to support me. But I never tell anybody about how I got into foster care, and I feel like I’m not telling the whole story. My mom has been asking me, “What about our story? We have a success story. Tell people that.” I feel like in order to help the mental health community, I have to tell my story, because it is a success story. ... Fortunately, my mom was able to find treatment. And she’s high-functioning today. She loves cooking, and we can’t get her to sit down. I feel like I have to give back, I have to do something.Christine Johnson:
I work in the field, I have experienced mental illness, and my son has been diagnosed with ADHD. So I am drawn to this group. I like to see change. I like to be part of change. [I hope] to help legislators understand that community support programs are helping people live normal lives. For myself, I’ve been hospitalized 70 times. ... I basically was waiting to die. I got myself out of the hospital and have been living in my own place since 2000. I got my education, I’ve been able to adopt, I own a single-family home and I’m working full time. I was on disability for 21 years, and I’m not on disability anymore. Because of community support programs – people believing in me.MinnPost photo by Sarah T. WilliamsChristine JohnsonCari Fisher and Charles Bugg:MinnPost photo by Sarah T. WilliamsCharles Bugg and Cari Fisher
Cari: I’m here today because mental illness personally affects my life. I’ve witnessed the tornado of events that affects my family, the people I love. It takes a lot of effort and energy to go through a crisis, to go in and out of hospitals. Being here and listening to the people in this great building is so amazing because this is where change happens. To find out who our legislators are, and to know that laws can change, that funding can happen, and to know that it’s our turn.
Charles: She’s my girlfriend, and she struggles, and I’m here to support her. I understand there were budget cuts, and now it’s time to refurbish the grants and what they need to better their lives, to get them back on track.Donald Modeen:
The winter that we’ve gone through has left me very depressed. I’m looking for a change in the seasons. I hate to say that sometimes mental illness is based on environmental factors, but I believe there’s a little bit of truth to that. I came here with a group from Vail Place. I find that mental health has a lot to do with finding things that you enjoy. Your staff at these places [Vail Place], they’ll tell you to work. Believe it or not, after you work for a while — either mopping floors, or running the snack bar or doing meal sign-ups — you find out that you actually enjoy it and that it’s a lot of fun. So you’re not depressed being by yourself and not doing anything —you’re helping other people.MinnPost photo by Sarah T. WilliamsDonald Modeen
That’s because saturated fat is not the dietary villain we have been led to believe, writes James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid American Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo.
In fact, he says, our demonization of saturated fats has helped fuel the obesity and diabetes epidemic of recent decades.
DiNicolantonio is not the only heart-disease expert who is trying to get people to re-evaluate saturated fat. Last October, for example, British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra wrote a similar commentary for BMJ entitled “Saturated fat is not the major issue.”
Slowly, ever so slowly, it seems to be becoming more acceptable to question the long-standing advice that a low-fat diet is your best chance for a lean and healthy body.
Saturated fat, which is found primarily in fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products, should not, by the way, be confused with trans fats, which is artificially created and found in many fast foods and processed bakery goods. Trans fats (also called partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) are widely recognized as being a risk factor for heart disease.Began in Minnesota
Our journey down “the wrong ‘dietary-road’” began here in Minnesota, says DiNicolantonio. In the 1950s, University of Minnesota physiology professor and obesity researcher Ancel Keys made national news when he published research involving data from six countries that he said showed a correlation between diets high in saturated fat and an increased risk of death from heart disease.
Keys’ research took on an added urgency when President Eisenhower had a heart attack in the fall of 1955. Suddenly, everybody wanted to know what they could do to keep their own heart healthy. Keys' low-fat diet seemed a good, scientifically based idea.
But Keys “excluded data from 16 countries that did not fit his hypothesis,” writes DiNicolantonio. “Indeed, data were available at the time from 22 countries, and when all countries were looked at, the association was greatly diminished. Furthermore, no association existed between dietary fat and mortality from all causes of death.”
Despite these discrepancies, saturated fat’s “bad” reputation took hold — and quickly became permanent dietary dogma. When the U.S. government's first Dietary Goals for Americans (later called the Dietary Guidelines for Americans) was released in 1977, it urged people to consume more carbohydrates and less saturated fat.
“This stemmed from the belief that since saturated fats increase total cholesterol (a flawed theory to begin with) they must increase the risk of heart disease,” writes DiNicolantonio. “Moreover, it was believed that since fat is the most ‘calorie-dense’ of the macro-nutrients, a reduction in its consumption would lead to a reduction in calories and a subsequent decrease in the incidence of obesity, as well as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.”
But that didn’t happen. Instead, it appears to have made things worse.‘An imprecise notion’
As DiNicolantonio details in his commentary, research suggests that the current obesity and diabetes epidemics are being fueled by the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates, not saturated fat.
In fact, several recent randomized controlled clinical trials have suggested that a low-carb diet is better for weight loss than a low-fat one.
The idea that saturated fats have a harmful effect on cholesterol is also “an imprecise notion,” writes DiNicolantonio. That’s because, he says, there are two different types of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the cholesterol that's labelled "bad" because of its link to an increased risk of heart disease. One kind (pattern B) is small and dense; the other (pattern A) is large and buoyant.
But only the small, dense LDL is associated with cardiovascular disease. The large, buoyant LDL is considered to be benign or, perhaps, even protective against the disease.
Saturated fat and carbs have different effects on the profile of these LDLs in the body, says DiNicolantonio. A high-carb diet increases the amount of potentially harmful small, dense LDL circulating in the blood, while a high-fat diet lowers it.
DiNicolantonio also warns against replacing saturated fat with omega 6-rich polyunsaturated fats, particularly safflower oil or corn oil. Recent research, he says, suggests that doing so may actually increase rather than decrease the risk of heart disease. (Other omega 6-rich polyunsaturated fats, such as canola and soybean oils, may have a similar effect on that risk, but they haven’t been extensively studied yet, DiNicolantonio notes.)Changing perceptions
“We need a public health campaign as big as the one demonizing saturated fat to now say, ‘You know what? We had it wrong,’” DiNicolantonio says in a podcast interview released with the commentary.
“We also need to change the public-health perception that, well, if you lower your saturated fat, you’re going to lower your cholesterol,” he adds.
The best heart-healthy diet, says DiNicolantonio, is one low in added sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
You can read the commentary in full on the Open Heart website. You can listen to the 11-minute podcast interview with DiNicolantonio at the site as well; simply scroll down to the end of the commentary.
When I first returned to the Twin Cities a few years ago, my husband and I attended a play at the Theatre Garage, just west of the Lyndale-Franklin intersection in Minneapolis.
"What is this neighborhood called?" my husband asked. (He's not from here.) An audience member sitting nearby said, "Uptown."
"It is?" I asked. To me Uptown was about 10 blocks south and pretty much anchored by Calhoun Square.
"This corner is the gateway to Uptown," she replied.
Some gateway, I thought. For sure, Rudolphs and Mortimer's have been around for decades, but the rest of what is now called "the built environment" is — for a gateway — pretty unwelcoming: a thrift store, a barber shop, the Theatre Garage's rather unimposing marquee, a surface parking lot and a couple of retail outlets off in the southwest corner that these days include an art gallery and Chi Tailor & Cleaner. (I'm a customer.) Neither trees nor flowers soften the landscape. Whether the day is sunny or gray, a visit there almost always darkens my mood.Six-story complex proposed
But hark! Something new may be on the way. Master, a Minneapolis development and engineering firm, has proposed a somewhat innovative six-story apartment complex for the corner. It would include 85 residential units, a new 150-seat Theatre Garage on the lower level, a restaurant on the Franklin Avenue side, and space for five retail shops on Lyndale. Behind the building would sit a five-story parking ramp, and — here's the innovative part — on the garage roof, there would be a park open to the public where the Theatre Garage would produce puppet shows and other performances.
As if reading my mind about the gateway thing, the developers of the project, which is to be called the Theatre Garage and Marquee Apartments (TGMA), in their preliminary proposal to the city's Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), declared that the project "would transform the site into a more vibrant anchor for the intersection, establish a significant gateway into the neighborhood, as well as make the area more pedestrian friendly by replacing the current surface parking lot with more vibrant storefront."For sure, Rudolphs and Mortimer's have been around for decades, but the rest of what is now called "the built environment" is — for a gateway — pretty unwelcoming: a thrift store, a barber shop, the Theatre Garage's rather unimposing marquee, a surface parking lot and a couple of retail outlets off in the southwest corner that these days include an art gallery and Chi Tailor & Cleaner.
According to Don Gerberding, founder and principal of Master, inspiration for the project — which has been under discussion for some time — came from the property owners, 2004 Real Estate Company (the Theatre Garage) and Theros (Rudolphs). "They wanted to put their properties to a higher and better use. Also, they both run businesses in the area, and they want to do something that will benefit the neighborhood." They believe that it supports what the city needs, he adds: greater density on commercial corridors, housing in the city, walkable streets and good urban design.
Gerberding isn't worried too much about the addition of 85 apartments to a city where complexes containing 100 and 200 units are popping up like mushrooms, both downtown and uptown. Although the vacancy rate for apartments in downtown Minneapolis has doubled to 4 percent in the past year, up from 1.9 percent, rents have remained high, according to Marquette Advisors Apartment Trends. And vacancy rates across the metro are only about 2.5 percent. Presumably, nobody has to worry about overbuilding until the rate tops 5 percent.Units would cater to the neighborhood people
"These aren't luxury apartments," says Gerberding. "We are catering to people in the neighborhood." And, he adds, there is still a shortage of housing in the area.
What seems more or as concerning as the project's marketability is the neighborhood's reaction to it. If a project requires zoning variances or conditional use permits, which is almost always the case in Minneapolis where complex zoning and overlapping district plans create a welter of regulations almost impossible to avoid violating, then CPED has to conduct a study, and the City Council's Planning and Zoning Committe and the full Council have to approve. And, if a neighborhood group objects to the development, the council member representing the area may bow to pressure and vote "no" to the variances. Generally, as a courtesy, other council members go along, and the project dies.
So it went with a proposal to build a Trader Joe's store on 27th and Lyndale two years ago; it required a deviation from regulations that would allow for a liquor store and increase retail space. The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) objected that the store would alter the streetscape (which included a boarded-up restaurant), violate the Lyn-Lake Small Area Plan and increase traffic. The developer gathered 400 signatures in favor of the project, but its doom was already foretold. Meg Tuthill, then council member for the area, decided that she was against the deal, and the rest of the council voted with her.
TGMA requires the city to make a whole lot more exceptions to its arcane planning and zoning codes than the Trader Joe's project. The site would have to be rezoned from C1 Neighborhood Commercial District, which allows only two-story buildings, to C2 Neighborhood Corridor Commercial District, which allows four-stories or buildings 56 feet high. Master would also have to win conditional use permits to allow for the parking garage, to increase the building height from 56 to 75 feet, to reduce setbacks from about 15 feet to 3, and to increase the permitted floor area ratio — the total floor area of the structure divided by the area of the lot it's on. That's a lot of grist for a neighborhood association to sink its teeth into should it want to keep things as they are.'Vigorous discussion'
The developer has already brought its plans to neighborhood groups for preliminary inspection. Burt Coffin, chair of LHENA's planning and zoning committee, says that about 40 neighborhood residents showed up. "There's a lot of interest," he says, and "there was vigorous discussion." Although he says the group isn't ready to make any decision — the developer is returning next week for another presentation, some concerns did come up, that some setbacks were too narrow and that the building would "shadow" others in the area. Another worry was the rooftop garden. Would the amenity attract loiterers or muggers, and how would the building owner provide security to those using the parking garage?
It wasn't all fuss and worry, however. "Some people said that the plan made good use of underutilized land," says Coffin. "They think it's an appropriate spot for more density."
The Whittier Alliance, another neighborhood association whose territory lies to the south and east of LHENA, also heard from the developer. Did the proposal create excitement or concern?
"Both," says Marian Biehn, the group's executive director. "People anticipated that there would be development on that corner, and they had the usual worries about height and parking. But the common thread was that they want a building that is architecturally interesting, one that uses good materials" — in other words, a classy place. They will be hearing more from the developer on Monday night.
So it looks like everybody is in the loop — or almost everybody. Mor Moua, the proprietor of Chi Tailor & Cleaner, says that it was a customer who told her that the store she rents might be falling to the wrecking ball. "They should let me know so I can find a new place," she says. Maybe she could get into one of the retail spaces in the new place, I suggested. That might be nice, she said, but building the new apartment house might take a year or two. "Where do I go in the meantime?"
The Trisha Brown Dance Company is on its final tour and coming to the Walker one last time. In January 2013, Brown, now 77, announced that she would step down as artistic director of the company she founded in 1970 for health reasons. Her long and fruitful relationship with the Walker, which began in the early years of her career, has included multiple residences, investigations and important commissions. In 2008, the Walker, Northrop Dance and the University of Minnesota Dance Program joined forces to present the Year of Trisha.
Co-presented with Northrop Dance, a four-day retrospective starting Wednesday, March 12, includes “I’m going to toss my arms – if you catch them they’re yours” (2011), “Set and Reset” (1983, music by Laurie Anderson, costumes by Robert Rauschenberg), “If you couldn’t see me” (1994) and “Astral Convertible” (1989, music by John Cage, interactive sound and light set by Rauschenberg). Philip Bither, the Walker’s senior curator for performing arts, considers this “a not to be missed cultural moment for the Twin Cities.” Through Saturday, March 15; best availability at this writing is Thursday, March 13. Post-show receptions with the dancers Wednesday and Thursday; post-show discussion on Brown’s legacy Friday; post-show SpeakEasy (casual discussion) Saturday. All performances at 8 p.m. in the McGuire Theater. FMI and tickets ($45/$40). If you go, and especially if you don’t know a lot about Brown, read this first.Courtesy of the Minnesota State FairAt the State Fair grandstand this year: Kid Rock
It’s not too soon to look forward to the State Fair, which announced three of this year’s grandstand acts earlier this week. Saturday, Aug. 23: Kid Rock. You know, the “bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy” guy. Monday, Aug. 25: The Happy Together Tour 2014, still happily lead by The Turtles, with Flo & Eddie, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night), Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. Tuesday, Aug. 26: Linkin Park & Thirty Seconds to Mars, with special guest AFI. All that plus cheese curds and corn dogs. Super eager beavers can buy tickets at the Fairgrounds Ticket Office today from 10-11 a.m. (Linkin Park only) and next Saturday, March 15, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Regular ticket office hours begin in June.Jeffrey Hatcher
Minnesota playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is taking “Hamlet” on the road. Not Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” exactly, but a one-person show about an 11-year-old named Jeffrey Hatcher who adapted, directed and performed the daunting drama for his fifth-grade English class in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1969. Hatcher plays himself telling the story. He describes it as “about theater as a home, as a refuge, and as a platform … about people who reveal themselves, their talents and weaknesses, when put through the pressure cooker of putting on the world’s greatest play in circumstances not likely to have been repeated since.” Coming to Blue Earth (March 17), Staples (March 20), Brainerd (March 21), Duluth (March 24), Moorhead (March 27), Cambridge (March 29), and Dawson (March 31). FMI.
The American Composers Forum has announced this year’s Live Music for Dance Minnesota awardees. The program supports Minnesota composers and choreographers with $5,000 grants to composer/choreographer teams, to support the creation of new work, and to professional dance companies, to commission a new piece from an American composer or hire musicians to play live during dance performances. Winners for 2014 include composer Jocelyn Hagen and choreographer Penelope Freeh, who are creating an evening-length dance opera about the birth of flight from the perspective of the Wright brothers’ sister, Katharine; composer Jennifer Weir and choreographer Joe Chvala, for new movement vocabulary and rehearsal drills based on a style of taiko drumming; and the dance company Brownbody, which will engage musician Thomasina Petrus to perform a variety of Billie Holiday songs and provide the soundscape for a work on racial oppression. Here’s the complete list of winners and projects.OAS_AD("Middle");
When you’re asking for money, it’s a lot easier to start high and end lower than it is to start low and hope for a miracle. Which is why the Obama administration’s FYI 2015 budget request to Congress is a disappointment to arts advocates. The request of $146 million for the National Endowment for the Arts compares unfavorably to last year’s request for $154 million and 2011’s request for $161 million. ($146 million = just under 46 cents per person, given a population of 317 million.) Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch called the request “unfortunately insufficient” and noted that “now is the time to boost investment, not reduce it. To reduce support provides both an inconsistent and confusing message for the creative economy in America.” If this is something you care about, contact your members of Congress and let them know.Our picks for the weekend
Opens tonight (Friday, March 7) at the St. Anthony Main Theatre: “The Great Beauty.” Director Paolo Sorrentino’s film about Rome’s idle rich just won the Oscar for best foreign language film. Critics are calling it “visually stunning,” “deliriously alive,” “glitteringly hypnotic” and “a surge of pure pleasure.” Sounds like the perfect way to spend 142 minutes. Here’s the trailer. FMI and tickets. Through Thursday, March 13.
Tonight in a blue house in St. Paul: Tennessee Williams’ “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.” Get up close and personal with the actors and themes in Gremlin Theatre’s site-specific production of this rarely produced play. The setting is an actual house (897 Portland, next to St. Clement’s Church), the audience is limited to 40, and you’ll literally be in the midst of the characters’ lives as the story unfolds. Williams’ play explores the meaning of loneliness, the need for human connection, and the compromises one makes to get through “the long run of life.” If you’re used to seeing plays at a distance, with a clear separation between you and the action, this will be a new experience. Trust us and give it a try. With Suzanne Warmanen, Sara Richardson, Jane Froiland and Noe Tallen, directed by Jef Hall-Flaven. UPDATE: The play will not take place in the house and, in fact, the production has been suspended. From a press release sent Friday morning by Gremlin Theatre: “It came to our attention that the occupancy and legal status of the Blue House were not what we believed them to be when we rented the facility from St. Clement’s Episcopal Church for this production. This came as a sudden surprise to Gremlin Theatre as well as to the Church itself and to the City of St. Paul when it was discovered Wednesday. We have spent the last several days working with the City of St. Paul and St. Clement’s Church to try to resolve this, but were unable to find a solution in the time allotted for the production’s originally scheduled run.” Ticket sales have been suspended, and refunds will be issued for tickets already purchased. Gremlin is exploring new options for mounting “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeuer” elsewhere in the Twin Cities before taking it to Provincetown, Mass. in September for the Tennessee Williams Festival.
Tonight at the University of Minnesota, Duluth: Art Lande Trio. Noted jazz improviser Art Lande (piano and drums) joins multi-instrumentalist Bruce Williamson (saxes) and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller for an evening of rhythmic complexity, melodic lyricism and harmonic freedom. It’s interesting to learn that the three musicians do a yearly retreat in upstate New York for the purposes of connecting musically and personally. They’ll communicate to the audience the results of their deep and ongoing communication with each other. 7:30 p.m. at Weber Music Hall, 1151 University Drive. FMI and tickets ($20-$5).
Saturday afternoon, back at the St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Teorema Venezia (The Venice Syndrome).” If you’ve been to Venice or dreamed of going someday, this documentary film will make you weep. Tourism – including cruise ships on the Grand Canal, dwarfing the Basilica of San Marco – is killing La Serenissima more effectively than the Black Plague ever could. Part of the Italian Film Festival, which continues through Sunday. 3:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer. FMI and tickets ($10-$7). Come early (2:30) for a free short documentary on the life of opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, “Restoring Verdi’s Places.”
Saturday at Camp Bar: “Buddy & the Boys.” Come as you are or slick back your hair for a Buddy Holly tribute, complete with the iconic look, sound and songs including “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Maybe Baby” and “Reddy Teddy.” Presented by the Actors Theater of Minnesota, with Nicholas Freeman as Buddy, Scott Jorgenson as the Big Bopper (“Chantilly Lace”) and a special guest as Ritchie Valens (“La Bamba”). 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($34.50/$39.50; use code word TEN to save $10). Through Sunday.J P Dodel PhotographyCécile McLorin Salvant
Sunday at the Dakota: Cécile McLorin Salvant. Just 24, Salvant is one of today’s most exciting and intriguing young jazz singers. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition and a 2014 Grammy nominee for “WomanChild,” her first American release, she’s smart and serious, choosing her repertoire from songs that were popular decades before she was born. And she has an extraordinary voice. We spoke with her for the Star Tribune. 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35/$25).
Monday, back at the St. Anthony Main Theatre yet again: a free advance screening of Wes Anderson’s latest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” You’ll have to become a member of the Film Society to see it, but with the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival just around the corner (April 3-19), now is as good a time as any, and this is the perfect excuse. 7 p.m. Here’s the yummy trailer. FMI.
HONG KONG — A Chinese newspaper’s attempt to lob a farewell stink bomb at the departing US ambassador has blown up squarely in its face.
After a Feb. 27 news conference for Gary Locke, who is leaving China after serving as the US ambassador for two and a half years, an op-ed in the official China News Service denounced him as a “banana man” with “yellow skin and a white heart.”
The article went on to suggest that his ancestors — Locke is of Chinese descent — would be ashamed of his service in the US government.
The ridiculous and racist piece generated a backlash within China as well as in American media. Thousands of Chinese on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, disowned the piece, calling it an “embarrassment” and proof of Locke’s unique power to irritate Chinese officialdom.
“This ruined the reputation of China and the Chinese government, and seriously damaged the international image of China’s national interests,” wrote Tong Zhiwei, a legal scholar. “I recommend they investigate the organization and publish the real author behind it.” The article included a byline, but pseudonyms are often used in China.
Hundreds of other commenters weighed in to register their disgust.
“Whoever wrote this article is really brainless and self-deluded,” wrote one reader. “Do you really think that Chinese people don’t deserve to know the real PM 2.5 readings that Ambassador Locke tells you? The ones sitting in the wasteful luxury cars can only be government officials.” (PM 2.5 readings refer to dangerous particulate pollution, which the US embassy has been publicizing in Beijing.)
It’s fitting that a high-profile Communist Party embarrassment accompanies Ambassador Locke’s departure from Beijing. Locke has a gift for making the Chinese government look bad without trying.
Even before he landed in Beijing in 2011, Locke’s modest behavior — unusual among high-level Party officials — stunned Chinese. He caused a stir when he was photographed buying his own coffee and carrying a backpack, and when it was revealed he had flown coach class to Beijing. In China, he grabbed public attention by carrying his own luggage and waiting in line for an hour, just like other mortals, at the Great Wall cable car.
For these reasons, Locke became a folk hero of sorts — a living rebuke to the perceived excesses and corruption of Chinese leaders. At the end of his tenure, 70 percent of 12,000 respondents to a Wall Street Journal poll of Chinese readers rated his performance as “outstanding.”
Locke's two and a half years were marked by several tense incidents. In 2012, the blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng fled to the US Embassy in Beijing, where he was sheltered until negotiations led to him being a granted a visa to the United States. That same year, the police chief of Bo Xilai also sought refuge in a US consulate.
One of Locke's biggest achievements was maintaining the embassy's policy of publishing accurate air pollution readings on Chinese social media, against the Chinese government’s wishes.
Still, even more than his concrete achievements, it was Locke's modest style, in contrast to the aloof grandeur of Communist Party elites, that left an enduring impression in China.
The fact that this American official was of Chinese descent only made him a more infuriating figure to the state-run media.
Hence the foaming-at-the-mouth, "banana man" editorial.
Ironically, as Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University, writes, the China News Service critique appears aimed at undermining Locke's "effective projection of American 'soft power.'"
But the “scurrilous, racist, and incoherent” editorial merely highlights Beijing’s own irritation at Locke’s success.
Cost and financial aid are driving students’ decisions about where to attend college more than ever.
Students are applying to more schools, and turning down their first-choice institution if it’s going to pose too much of a financial burden, according to the CIRP Freshman Survey, conducted annually by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Showing everything from study habits to political views, the results of the survey – completed by more than 165,000 students – are weighted to represent all first-time, full-time undergraduates who started at four-year US colleges and universities in the fall of 2013.
For more than 40 years, students have consistently ranked the academic reputation of an institution as a key factor in choosing to attend. But over the past decade, financial concerns have begun to weigh almost as heavily.
Sixty-four percent say academic reputation was very important, and about 46 percent say cost of attendance was very important – the highest since the survey started asking the cost question 10 years ago. About 49 percent say the financial aid package was very important, the highest since the question was first asked 42 years ago.
Of the nearly 76 percent of students accepted to their first-choice school, just under 75 percent enrolled – the lowest ever. About 40 percent of those who didn’t go to their top choice say it was because they weren’t able to afford it.
Students are doing more comparison shopping, and in response, some colleges have begun in recent years to “package financial aid offers that include less reliance on loans,” says Kevin Eagan, CIRP’s interim director and co-author of the report.
But overall, financial aid from the federal government, states, and institutions is just not keeping up with needs, resulting in higher debt burdens, says Jessica Thompson, a senior policy analyst in the Washington office of the Institute for College Access & Success.
As a result, students are working longer hours (10 percent of freshmen say they work more than 20 hours a week), which can lead to higher dropout rates.
Efforts are under way to help more students understand the full cost of attending various colleges – including cost calculators required by the government that enable comparisons across similar institutions.
But more consumer education is still needed, Ms. Thompson says. Some students, because of financial concerns that may be misinformed, “opt for a school where their chances of completion are a lot lower,” she says.
The CIRP survey shows that 84 percent of freshmen believe they will graduate in four years, but research indicates fewer than half actually will, Thompson adds.
A new aspect of the CIRP survey this year is how students rate themselves on skills for diverse workplaces.
They generally see themselves as able to tolerate different beliefs and work cooperatively with others. But less than one-third said that openness to having their views challenged was a “major strength.”
Today’s students do “much better on racial issues than any generation we’ve seen.... However, the fact that they can’t tolerate criticism is also a reality,” says Arthur Levine, co-author of “Generation on a Tightrope” and president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, N.J.
The degree to which students have grown up protected and continually praised by adults has led them to feel like criticism means they’ve failed, Mr. Levine says. “That’s not good for a generation that’s going to live in a time of profound change,” he says, and it means colleges need to reduce grade inflation and create opportunities for students to get critical feedback.
There's a great deal of discussion within colleges about how to adapt to "digital natives" who arrive already using online educational tools. Surprisingly, though, only about 9 percent of freshmen say there’s a very good chance they’ll enroll in an online course while in college.
That doesn’t mean they won’t use online resources, however. Nearly 42 percent of freshmen say they used an online instructional website (such as Khan Academy) assigned for a class occasionally or frequently in the previous year. Even more, 69 percent, used such sites on their own.
Those students who sought out online instruction on their own were more likely to show “habits of mind” associated with academic success and lifelong learning – such as seeking solutions to problems, asking for feedback on academic work, and exploring topics on their own. Forty-two percent who frequently used online instruction on their own scored high in the habits-of-mind scale, compared with 22 percent of those who only occasionally sought out online instruction.
As for freshmen’s views on some hot-button political issues:
- 83 percent support the right of gay couples to adopt, up from nearly 77 percent in 2010.
- 68 percent endorse the idea that wealthier people should pay a greater share of taxes than they currently pay.
- 64 percent believe the federal government should do more to control handgun sales, down from a peak of 84 percent in 1998.