KELO TV reports that the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is recruiting volunteers to welcome visitors to the big game in Minneapolis next February 4. The volunteer recruitment pitchman is South Dakota native NFLer Chad Greenway:
The NFL will take in $14 billion this year, the average player makes $2.1 million, and they want hundreds of people to come work their big advertising and tourism event for free?
With Aberdeen’s new library set to open on September 11, we have to figure out what to do with the old one on Sixth Avenue Southeast and Kline Street. The Aberdeen Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau have offered to buy the building and turn it into a new, more central and visible visitor center:
It’s a perfect location. The property is situated along 6th Avenue, which will greatly increase the visibility of our organizations and the services we provide. With over 30,000 cars driving by per day, we will be better able to direct people to Downtown Aberdeen, Storybook Land, Northern State University, Presentation College, and other businesses and landmarks within the community [Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, “Our Vision for a NEW Welcome/Visitor Center,” retrieved 2017.06.11].
For their chance to stake their flag in front of 30,000 cars (and a few bicycles!) each day, the Chamber and CVB in March offered $350,000. After obtaining an appraisal of the old library building of $1.17 million, the city is seeking higher bids:
The city’s current public library on Sixth Avenue Southeast will go up for auction in September.
That auction is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 26, City Attorney Ron Wager said in a news release. Bidders can participate by submitting qualified sealed bids of at least $500,000, he said [Elisa Sand, “City Library Property Auction Will Be in September,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.06.09].
What if nobody submits a qualifying bid? Highly unlikely, but that would restart the thinking back to square one.
We have been reminded over and over in these recent years of Aberdeen area progress that not much growth happens until someone with access to capital decides to risk some of it. It’s justifiable for us to thank, in advance, any investors willing to make a qualifying bid and bet on Aberdeen’s future [Mayor Mike Levsen, “Library Auction Set, Now It’s up to the Bidders,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.06.09].
Water Infiltration: Chronic water infiltration, including leaks from the roof and windows, have compounded the flooding that has occurred in the basement on numerous occasions. Mold, dirt, humidity and the ongoing threat of flooding have rendered only 30% of the basement usable for library activity (meeting rooms).
Aged Infrastructure: Constructed in 1963, the current library building is not in full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and lacks the electrical, cabling, and internet services required by any modern-day structure.
An Uninspiring Setting: The current library has low ceilings, cramped quarters, bad lighting, obscured windows, and a hodge-podge of furnishings. This does not provide for a space that energizes and inspires patrons. It is not inviting [Aberdeen Public Library Foundation, “We Are Not Meeting the Needs of the Community,” 2015.06.29].
But let’s be optimists! Like the Chamber, I can see the great potential of a location right on busy Sixth and broad, beautiful Kline (which is really a fun street to take from campus to Manor Park). Suppose there are some capitalist gamblers willing to take Mayor Levsen up on this bet. What could they do with that lot?
A new restaurant to fill one glaring gap in Aberdeen’s culinary offerings: Middle Eastern food! Think Mim’s Café in St. Paul. Aberdeen needs shwarma!
The Corner Book Shoppe could consider a bold move two blocks west and south. The old library is probably more space than Aberdeen’s only used book store needs, but perhaps they expand the bibliophiliac experience by going halfsies with a nice coffee shop, like, oh, say…
Caribou Coffee! That coffee shop would gain no visibility moving just two blocks west, but they could finally solve their parking lot chaos with a reconfiguration of the old library’s more spacious north parking lot.
Let’s see if real businesspeople can come up with any better plans… and the half-million dollars to make the city pay attention to their bids.
This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it [Donald Trump, speech to leaders of 50+ Muslim countries, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as transcribed by CNN, 2017.05.21].
Trump also sat with his hands clasped in his lap during a Muslim invocation and offered no rebuttal to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who introduced Trump’s address to the summit by saying (through a translator) that terrorists (fueled largely by Iranian/Khomeinist extremists) have tried to “exploit Islam as a cover for political purposes”:
Islam and will always be the religion of mercy, tolerance, and coexistence as confirmed by brilliant precedents. In its prosperous times, Islam provided the best examples of coexistence and harmony among followers of religions and cultures. However, we see today that some presumed Muslims seek to present a distorted picture of religion, a picture that seeks to conflate this rich religion with violence. We say to our Muslim brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters everywhere, that one of the most important goals of Islamic sharia is protecting life, and there is no honor in committing murder. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance that urges its followers to develop Earth and forbids them from corrupting it. It considers killing an innocent soul tantamount to killing all of humanity. Our way to achieve the goals of our religion and win everlasting life in heaven is to promote the tolerant values of Islam which are based on peace, moderation, and refraining from destroying and corrupting Earth [King Salman, address to Muslim summit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2017.05.21].
There you go, straight from the President and his new pal the King: there is no war of civilizations. Islam is a religion of peace. And we trust and love our Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia so much that the President is going to make sure that they “get a good deal from our great American defense companies.”
We are well past taking any words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth as a sign of comprehension, sincerity, or anything else other than reflexive emission of gas in the presence of a microphone.
However, in an interview with AP’s Julie Pace on Friday, before rambling off into another self-serving exaggeration, Trump managed to string together words that more sincere observers may use to rebut the notion that we should run government like a business… or at least like Donald Trump appears to run a business:
AP: You’ve talked a little bit about the way that you’ve brought some business skills into the office. Is there anything from your business background that just doesn’t translate into the presidency, that just simply is not applicable to this job?
TRUMP: Well in business, you don’t necessarily need heart, whereas here, almost everything affects people. So if you’re talking about health care — you have health care in business but you’re trying to just negotiate a good price on health care, et cetera, et cetera. You’re providing health. This is (unintelligible). Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don’t involve heart.
AP: What’s that switch been like for you?
TRUMP: In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.
AP: What’s making that switch been like for you?
TRUMP: You have to love people. And if you love people, such a big responsibility. (unintelligible) You can take any single thing, including even taxes. I mean we’re going to be doing major tax reform. Here’s part of your story, it’s going to be a big (unintelligible). Everybody’s saying, “Oh, he’s delaying.” I’m not delaying anything. I’ll tell you the other thing is (unintelligible). I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty [“Transcript of AP Interview with Trump,” AP, interview 2017.04.21, posted 2017.04.24].
I agree that government requires heart… perhaps better translatable as a sense of obligation to all citizens and, in the case of a nation as powerful as the United States, obligation to all humanity. But does Trump really believe that “almost everything affects people” is true only in government and not in business? Does he really think that the actions businesses (telecoms, banks, homebuilders…) take after he deregulates them won’t affect people? If Trump really believes that, he’s not only heartless but clueless.
p.s.: In other cluelessness, Trump tells AP that “The wall will stop the drugs“—all of them, apparently, even though a lot of drugs enter the United States by boat and through those big holes in the current fence called checkpoints.
USA Today features a Boston Consulting Group report on America’s waning lead in industrial innovation. We’re still investing in and churning out more basic and applied research than any other nation, and we are home to a huge proportion of the world’s best universities (BCG says 75 out of the top 200; Times Higher Education says 63 out of the top 200, 147 out of the top 800*), but other nations—especially China, but also Germany, Japan, and South Korea—are focusing more on turning our technological innovations in money-making products.
Among the causes of “friction” in U.S. industry efforts to turn science into profits are a couple of free-market failings:
Reluctance to Collaborate. Because they view one another as competitors within an industry—rather than collaborators working to further a national interest—companies are often reluctant to cooperate to solve common manufacturing problems. When US manufacturers join research consortia, they often prefer to work in their own facilities and share little of their innovation with other members.
Uncoordinated Supply Chains. Instead of offering full suites of advanced digital manufacturing tools that are applicable to entire industries, providers tend to have narrow capabilities and develop solutions that are specifically designed for certain technologies or manufacturers. Manufacturers are also reluctant to collaborate with their suppliers on process innovation. As a result, it’s hard for US industries to establish standards that would reduce costs, speed the implementation of new manufacturing technologies, and improve efficiency throughout the manufacturing ecosystem [Hal Sirkin, Justin Rose, and Rahul Choraria, “An Innovation-Led Boost for U.S. Manufacturing,” Boston Consulting Group, 2017.04.17].
Skill Gaps. Wide-scale adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies will significantly increase demand for skills that currently are in short supply in the US, such as robotics coordinators, information technology specialists, and data analytics personnel. The US public education system is also not well suited to training production workers who are able to quickly adapt to new and evolving manufacturing technologies [Sirkin et al., 2017.04.17].
All that assumes that we want science and education to serve industry. I don’t mind if our university scientists concentrate on uncovering the mysteries of the universe and leave it to someone else to figure out how to make a buck off the Big Bang. I don’t mind of our public schools focus on making children into well-read participants in democracy and let them figure out how to make better widgets.
But if we want to stay ahead of China in industrial innovation, we need to keep investing in science. We need our great industries to adopt a more collaborative scientific spirit. And we do need to look for ways to give kids more chances to design and build things alongside (not in place of) their training in American democracy.
*On the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2015–2016, along with 63 American universities, the United Kingdom places 34 in the top 200; Germany, twenty; Netherlands, eleven; Australia, eight; Switzerland and Canada, seven; Sweden, six; France, five; Belgium and South Korea, four; Hong Kong, Denmark, Italy, Spain, three; Singapore, China, Japan, Ireland, Norway, two; Finland, South Africa, Austria, Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Israel, Luxembourg, one.
In a party-line 50-48 vote Thursday, senators approved a resolution to undo sweeping privacy rules adopted by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission. If it becomes law, it would also prevent the FCC from setting similar rules again.
Those rules have not gone into effect, but they require ISPs to tell consumers what information is being collected and how it is being used or shared. Most notably, the rules require ISPs in some cases to get users’ explicit consent, for example to sell information such as geolocation or browsing history for advertising [Alina Selyukh, “U.S. Senate Votes to Repeal Obama-Era Internet Privacy Rules,” NPR: The Two-Way, 2017.03.23].
As NPR noted when the FCC passed these privacy protections in October, Internet service providers are not the only collectors and sellers of our personal data. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other websites get all sorts of information about us, and the FCC rules would not have stopped them from cashing in on our searches and video views.
But individual websites see only a sliver of our online activity. Our online service providers see every byte that flows through our pipes and thus could provide the most comprehensive picture of our online habits to businesses eager to monetize our click-preferences.
The Legislature won’t give teachers any more money, but it won’t take any more money from retailers. The House yesterday shot down House Appropriations chief David Anderson’s effort to turn carcass Senate Bill 106 into a last-minute tax hike on retailers. Rep. Anderson proposed reducing the credit retailers get for collecting sales tax. Senate State Affairs was willing to send that idea to the floor for debate, perhaps not as an endorsement of this tax hike, but at least, as Rep. Anderson suggested, as a vehicle for other revenue enhancements and budget-balancers.
The full House was having none of that. SB 106 went down 26–41. That’s one less vote against taking money from retailers than the votes on SB 35 (just minutes before the SB 106 vote) that erase the Schoenbeck Amendment that guarantees a certain amount of sales tax goes to raising teacher pay.
SB 95 appears to allow far broader use of cannabidiol than a 2016 bill that would have opened the door for using cannabidiol to treat children with epilepsy. I notice the following differences in the debate over the two bills:
Last year, the only proponents who testified on SB 95 were a couple of parents who use cannabidiol to treat their kids’ illnesses. This year, along with several parents and advocates, three lobbyists for U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals and its U.S. operating unit Greenwich Biosciences spoke in favor of SB 95.
Last year, when the more restrictive cannabidiol bill went before House Health and Human Services, Attorney General Marty Jackley testified against the bill. This year, Attorney General Jackley attended the first SB 95 hearing but only sat quietly behind the lobbyists for Greenwich Biosciences.
Last year’s bill gave a detailed scientific definition of cannabidiol: “a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in the plant cannabis sativa L. or cannabis indica or any other preparation thereof that is essentially free from plant material, and has a tetrahydroconnabinol level of no more than three percent.” SB 95 defers to the feds and defines cannabidiol simply as “a drug product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.” An amendment yesterday added the word “product”.
California, like South Dakota (there’s an intro that should give the SDGOP the creeps), started raising its minimum wage in 2014. California pretzel CEO Bill Phleps, like bumper-car bosses Al and David Novstrup, got nervous. But then, unlike South Dakota’s Republican Novstrups, Phelps looked at actual data:
Sales at his California stores immediately shot up.
“I was shocked,” Phelps says. “I was stunned by the business.”
The same exact pattern took place again in 2016, when the minimum wage rose again, Phelps said. There was a wage increase, and then boom, a bump in same-store sales across the state that held for most of the year.
I enjoy shopping at the Aberdeen Kmart. It’s very quiet…
…which is why I’m puzzled that, of the four Kmarts left in South Dakota, the corporation closed its East Sioux Falls store last fall and now is closing the West Sioux Falls store, leaving Aberdeen and Rapid City as the last South Dakota Blue Light outposts. Aberdeen’s Kmart competes with Walmart, Target, Shopko, Office Max, Dunham Sports, Runnings, Tractor Supply Company, Mac’s, Menards, Ken’s, and Kessler’s, and from the looks of the parking lot, doesn’t compete well. I don’t wish any of my friends who work there unemployment, and I appreciate the walkability that Kmart offers to the high rental population in that neighborhood who would rather not try hoofing it out to the sidewalkless auto-mania east of Lamont Street (runner-up for filming location for Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050). Still, the fact that desperate bean counters in suburban Chicago would bail from South Dakota’s largest market before abandoning Aberdeen suggests an interesting small-market strategy… which hypothesis collapses when I see that Kmart’s New York City stores don’t appear to be on the chopping block. Aberdeen must just have something awesome that Sioux Falls does not.
Sears acquired Kmart in 2004 for $11 billion. At the beginning of 2004, Sears stock was $26 a share. Sears shares hit a pre-recession peak of $178 in March 2007, dropped below $40 for Barack Obama’s inauguration, came back to $113 in March 2010, and has groaned downward since. Today’s Sears stock price: $11.
But as Mr. Epp warns, Walmart, you’re next. Amazon will shortly be putting all traditional retail stores out of business with blimps and drones. It’s raining sweatpants….