It’s That Time Of Year Again

The time of year for senseless-but-fun studies trying to associate peoples’ traits, behaviors and peccadilloes to their politics.

Today?  What your choice of beer says about yoru politics:

Smithwick’s is never mentioned. What are they afraid of?

(And who am I kidding?  It’s always that time of year.  Although I’m sure it’s time for a “study” “proving” that liberals are smarter, any ol’ time here).

Only At The U Of M…

…could they manage to lose money selling beer at a football game:

The school released the figures to the Associated Press after a records request, which showed it incurred significant expenses from its first season selling alcohol stadium-wide at TCF Bank Stadium. Those include hiring additional police and security officers, setting up tents and other facilities, and equipment rental. Roughly half of its revenues went directly to Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., which had the contract to sell beer and wine.

The booze itself cost the university about $180,000.

This bit here made me wonder if they really focused their spending properly (emphasis added):  

About $30,000 of the school’s expenses were one-time costs to prepare the stadium — from setting up ATMs to buying plants.

Plants?

In conjunction with beer sales?

Isn’t that what urinals are for?

They apparently expect to turn a profit next year.  Not sure if that’s tied with the GoGo football team making the playoffs “next year” or not.

Priorities

Governor Dayton vetoed all the GOP  budget bills, casting his vote for continued autopilot budget increases, an eternal burden on the state’s productive class, and forcing the rest of us to work ’til we’re 70 so that Dayton’s union supporters can retire at 55.

But at least Minnesota’s brewers got their money’s worth:

On the same day he vetoed most of the GOP-backed budget bills, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill allowing beer sales at a proposed new brewery and restaurant.

Minnesotans; broke, getting broker, force to be “happy to be paid for a better Minnesota” – but at least we can drink.

Keep ‘em drunk and dependent.  Could be a state motto.

It Is Risen

The Nook – the teeny little Saint Paul bar and burger joint that burned down last December – is set to reopen today:

The restaurant, located on Hamline Avenue, across the street from Cretin-Derham Hall High School, has been around since 1938.

Their specialty was the Juicy Nookie, a burger stuffed with cheese. The restaurant was even featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

I need say no more.

Six Million Bottles of Beer on The Road, Six Million Bottles of Beer.

I suppose this isn’t the first time beer has stopped traffic.

A kilometre-long convoy of beer vats is on the move, shutting down roads and downing hydro and cable lines in its path.

Massive vats that can hold six million bottles of beer are being hauled from Hamilton Harbour to a Molson Coors facility near Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

The trip, which is expected to take four nights, began Friday night as the vats — loaded on six flatbed trailers — were slowly pulled out of the docks by transport trucks.

As for me, I prefer Surly, a local beer known for for it’s quality than it’s quantity.

…and at ten bucks for four cans, thusly priced as well.

Beer Commons

I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for almost 25 years, now.  And for most of that time, being from North Dakota has meant I’m my entire social circle’s connection for Everclear (the full-strength 195 proof stuff, not the pantywaisted 175 proof swill they sometimes sell in Minnesota), fireworks (the NATO-graded stuff) and cheap cigarettes.

But never let it be said that Terry Keegan will miss a trend.  Apparently noting the hottest economy in the land, Terry is pandering to the people with the money next week…:

The pub is holding our first ever “NODAK NIGHT” on Friday, July 23. We are encouraging everyone with a North Dakota conection, of any kind, to come in and mingle with other North Dakotans. We are offering the first drink free for anyone with a connection.

…perhaps to curry favor and make connections for an expansion to Minot or Dickinson or someplace else out in the oil patch with low taxes and high beer consumption rates?  We dont’t know, but Terry’s no dummy.  (Marty is, but since he’s from NoDak too, I keep that quiet).

It starts at 7PM.

I’ll be bringing my JHS ’81 annual…

(via one-time temporary Grand Forksian Chad at Fraters Libertas)

Bathroom Review: The Flash Mahal

 As part of my ongoing series of reviews of the great bathrooms of the Twin Cities, I reviewed Flash’s newly-reopened master bathroom, the “Flash Mahal”. 

A frequent stop on visits to Flash’s Garage – the social center of the Midway – Flash’s master bathroom was once a fairly undistinguished little cubbyhole -  just a toilet, shower and sink.

But with his latest remodel job finished, the Flash Mahal may be perhaps the finest single space of any kind in Saint Paul.

It was a risky job – the all-white motif could have risked comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey  – but Flash and Mrs. Flash carried it off, somehow.  You feel like you could film a commercial,  throw a swanky party, even host a rave, in a space like this.

Some might say that, compositionally, the architecture is derivative of 1950′s Spanish Bano Blanco, but let’s be honest, there are worse influences to pilfer!  

I give it three and a half stars.  Zagat says four, but I don’t like to spoil people…

So kudos to the Flashes – who will be sharing Flash Mahal with one fewer kid next week!

Speaking Of The MOB

It’s high time we threw a MOB Winter Party.

The MOB has always thrown its parties at Keegans, largely because the group really was born at Keegans; Terry Keegan has always shown bloggers (and, let’s be honest, the Northern Alliance) a lot of love, and it’s only right to show it right back  What kind of person doesn’t take care of his/her friends, especially friends who’ve been under attack by people as venal and stupid as Minneapolis’ city government?

And rest assured, this coming summer at Keegans, with the cigar patio open, will be fantastic, and I’m looking forward to throwing a MOB event and more than a few Blogger Trivia Nights at the Northeast Minneapolis hangout.

But given that it’s the dead of winter, and MOB parties tend to draw so well, it’s time to expand the horizons just a little.  We have another establishment that’s on the plate here that not is not only run by one of the good guys, and not only faces a dismal, short-sighted, nanny-statist city government, but has a good-sized indoor party room that’s gonna be nice for a big, indoor party.  They have no cigar patio – but face it, in this weather only North Dakotans sit on patios to smoke cigars.

More details later.  But suffice to say, a MOB part is in the works, very very presently.

Stay tuned.

Gatesgate Begets Beergate

One controversy after another dogs El Presidente as he pours a cold one with his new-found beer buddies.

Earlier this week the White House indicated each man would drink the beer of their choice — Bud Light for President Obama, Blue Moon for the police officer, and perhaps Red Stripe or Beck’s for Gates.

But one Massachusetts congressman thinks another beer entirely should be served: Boston’s own Sam Adams.

In a letter to Obama dated Wednesday, Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal strongly urges the president not to drink Budweiser, now owned by a Belgian company. Nor should the White House consider serving Miller or Coors, Neal writes, both owned by a United Kingdom conglomerate.

These are weighty issues. This is behavior unbecoming the leader of the free world. I think the President should just resign.

(I glad that I created our new “Beer” tag because it appears to be well positioned for heavy use in the immediate future)

But in the mean time and in light of Congressman Neal’s push to elevate one’s choice of beer to the national stage, we can speak up, be heard, and tell our President what beer we think he should drink for the betterment of our nation (these are all real beers).

What Beer Should President Barack Obama, Leader of the Free World, Drink (Officially)?
Colt 45
Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout
Sam Adam’s
Rogue Yellow Snow Ale
Fatty Boombalatty
Horse Piss
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde (End of the World)
Bud Light
Dogfish Head Golden Shower
None: Bad Things Happen When The President Drinks
  
pollcode.com free polls

Sit Down, Have a “Beer.” Hugs All Around.

Is it just me or does it seem like The President might have more pressing issues than shipping his “Perfesser” and the Perfesser’s cop cousin to the White House for a Beer? (Not that Bud Light is actually beer).

Obama, 47, has picked the top-selling beer in the U.S. for his get-together at the White House with Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sergeant James Crowley, according to an administration official who asked to remain anonymous. The official wouldn’t say what the guests would be drinking.

…nor did it occur to him that no one gives a rat’s arse.

Political strategists and marketing experts (that’s redundant-JR) called the pick an easy, non-controversial choice for a meeting designed to defuse the tension sparked by the July 16 arrest of Gates by Crowley.

…as opposed to

…which apparently “Works Every Time!”

But the President chose wisely as Bud Light has “Drinkability.”

Ugh.

Meanwhile, Iran is building a nuclear warhead, the Chinese are going to stop buying our paper, and one in ten Americans don’t have a job.

…AND FIFTY (!!!) MILLION (!!!!!!!!) PEOPLE (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) DON’T HAVE HEALTHCARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Dear President Jimbammy,

If you had just kept your mouth shut, and read what I was feeding you, you would not be involved in this pissing match.

Get back to work.

With all undue respect,

T. Elle Prompter

Charter Schools: The Hit Is Out (Part I)

Established; the left hates, and wants to extinguish, charter schools.

Charter schools – invented about twenty years ago in Minnesota, and given life by a 1991 law that allowed schools, run by sponsoring organizations and elected boards of parents, teachers, sponsors and other interested parties, to use the money that would have been allocated to the student at a public school – have been a lightning rod ever since.

For the teachers’ union and the educational/industrial complex,anyway.

For parents – especially parents underserved by the decaying inner city schools with their sub-50% graduation rates, violence and miserable achievement – the word I’m looking for is “lifelines”.  City parents – especially the Afro-American parents that have the most to gripe about with urban schools – are leaving the city schools in droves; 1/8 of Saint Paul’s kids have left the system, with even more in Minneapolis, as of two years ago.

Charter schools offer what public schools not only lack, but actively squelch; parental involvement; beyond that, parental control; staff whose jobs are intimately tied to their success with the kids, since the board that hires them administers only the school they’re in; perhaps most important, immediate accountability – not to some politicized, “elected” school board (which is in the bag for the teachers union, not the parents) and careerist administration, but to them via a decision loop that is a microscopic fraction of what it is at a public school.  If a charter school screws up with a kid, they know it right away; the board hears it and must respond immediately, or the kids, and the money, go away.

The accountability, in other words, is immediate.

Which the teachers union and the educational-industrial complex hates.  They’ve been working for almost two decades to extinguish the charter school experiment.  They’ve tittered about “academic achievement” rates that, in the cases of some schools, is a tiny hair below that of public schools, in press releases that carefully ignore two inconvenient truths:

  • Charter schools are often where parents go after kids have “checked out” of the public system, developed atrocious study skills, and lost interest in education.  Call it educational recovery; it’s where many parents – myself included - go to salvage the mess our inept public schools create.
  • When a kid in a public school is performing poorly enough to blow the school’s rates for purposes of “No Child Left Behind”, they’re shunted off to an “Alternative Learning Center” (ALC), which, being explicitly for kids with academic problems, is “off the books”.  Charter schools don’t have this; there’s just one Grade Point Average for a charter school!

But more than anything, it’s about the money.  Since the per-student money from the states follows each charter student, every family that decamps for the charters takes tens of thousands of dollars away from the factory school system.  It’s adding up fast.

They want it back.

John Fitzgerald came out yesterday with a hit piece on charters’ “Financial Accountability”. for “Minnesota 2020″, the “non-partisan” think tank founded by former DFL Representative Matt Entenza and employing, as far as I can see, nothing but partisans.

Seventeen years after the first charter school opened in Minnesota, this examination of fiscal year 2007 charter school financial audits shows that the vast majority of charter schools do not follow basic financial guidelines or, in some cases, state law. Since this analysis agrees with a recent report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor and audit examinations written in 2001, 2002 and 2003, we conclude that these financial problems are not being adequately addressed by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and, further, are endemic of the charter school system.

Well, that sounds pretty damning.   Of course, the damnation is in the details -which we’ll look into later.

Efforts by the 2009 Legislature to provide more accountability to charter schools was welcome, but shorthanded. The charter school program is financially flawed and basic concepts about charter schools – such as unelected school boards and under informed business management – need to be changed.

Let’s clarify a few things about the language in this paragraph, since they obfuscate a few things that, for the charter advocate, are better re-clarified.

Some charters do have unelected boards.  Most of them do elect their boards.

And any parent that’s ever been involved in a charter school knows that most of them are run by teachers, not managers or accountants. At some charters – schools with excellent academic records – the staff freely admit they work hard to keep the regulatory hogs’ troughs slopped with the pails of paperwork that attend the spending of any public money.  It’s not an unfair charge – although to try to turn that charge into a conviction, as Fitzgerald does later in this piece, is laughably misleading.

Fitzgerald cuts to the chase

In November and December, 2008 and January, 2009, Minnesota 2020 combed through the financial audits of 145 charter schools for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2007 – reports that were filed with MDE by December 31, 2007. Our research found several trends in charter school financial management:

  • 83 percent were found to have at least one financial irregularity in their audit – five years earlier, that figure was 73 percent;
  • 51 percent of those schools with problems identified on their 2007 financial audits had the same problems identified on their 2008 audits, according to the MDE;
  • 29 percent did not respond to a request for board minutes – five years earlier, that figure was 33 percent;
  • 55 percent were found to have “limited segregation of duties,” a requirement that ensures no single charter school official has control of the school’s funds;
  • 26 percent didn’t have proper collateral for deposit insurance, a requirement that ensures the charter school can pay its bills.

Well, that sure sounds bad.  And those are the numbers that MN2020 will splash all about the state’s media (the media that so many of MN2020′s staff used to work for).

But what’s behind those numbers?  You have to do some reading for that.  We’ll look into the numbers tomorrow.

But Fitzgerald reaches a conclusion:

If charter schools can’t run their schools in a financially competent manner, Minnesota should reconsider whether charter schools are worthy of public funding at all.

Which brings up a slew of interesting questions.

Why should charter schools be the only ones required to be “financially competent”?  Can we have the same debate about “worthiness” with our union-strangled, factory school system?

We’ll be back to look at Fitzgerald’s numbers tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Yep, it’s John, not Peter Fitzgerald.  I hadn’t had coffee yet; I’m lucky I didn’t write “Edmund”.

And I guess I don’t keep up with my “progressive” non-profit trivia like I used to: Entenza isn’t with MN2020 anymore.

(Part II, Part III and Part IV of this series)