IRRRB’s Paying Delta $36,875 Per Year Per Job for 32 Jobs

Check out this headline:

Delta Air Lines gets $5.9M to add 107 jobs to Iron Range call center

Now, check out the terms of the deal:

The IRRRB board today approved the deal that requires Delta to keep 525 employees at the facility, up from the current 418.

Delta officials said they hope to begin the expansion within weeks.

The 12-year “forgivable loan” starts to come due in five years, but the payments will be forgiven if employment stays above 450.

This is a throwback to word problems done in school.

The questions could be:

1. Compared to today, how many more jobs does the company need to maintain in order to have the $5.9M loan forgiven?

A) 32 jobs
B) 107 jobs
C) 418 jobs
D) 450 jobs
E) 525 jobs

2. How much did the state IRRRB (more info on this correction here). spend per year to create those jobs for five years? (Show your work)

A) $5.9M / 32 jobs / 5 years = $36,875 per job per year
B) $5.9M / 107 jobs / 5 years = $11,028 per job per year
C) $5.9M / 418 jobs / 5 years = $2,822 per job per year
D) $5.9M / 450 jobs / 5 years = $2,622 per job per year
E) $5.9M / 525 jobs / 5 years = $2,247 per job per year

3. What is generally considered to be the role of the CEO?

A) Maximize shareholder value.
B) Create jobs on the Iron Range.
C) Make sure you have plenty of leg room.

4. A recent job posting for the Delta Air Lines call center in Chisholm, Minnesota listed the starting salary as $1,850/month for “Reservations Representative Specialty Sales and Support” positions. How much would that be per year?

A) $22,200/yr
B) $18,500/yr
C) $37,000/yr
D) $42,500/yr

5. Assuming the answers to all of the above questions have been “A”, how much per year per employee would Delta end up paying to employ those new employees?

A) -$14,675 / per year
B) $0 / per year
C) $14,675 / per year
D) $22,000 / per year
E) $36,000 / per year

Unless I’m reading this incorrectly, I think The Fonz could ace this test.

2011 Princess Kay of the Milky Way Recap

The Other Mike and I had a chance to check out the Princess Kay of the Milky Way pageant last night. After playing a video where each of the 12 contestants contributed a Midwest Dairy fact, the Princess Kay Orchestra kicked things off:

Princess Kay Orchestra

The Master of Ceremony, Rod Johnson, was excellent as usual. Here he is introducing last year’s princess, Katie Miron. Katie’s role during the night is to give a speech on what her year as Princess Kay was like, while providing some advice to the next Princess Kay (typical advice: “enjoy every minute of it, because it goes so fast!”).

Rod Johnson with Katie Miron

There was a special appearance this year from the official butter head carver, Linda Christensen:

Butter Head Carver, Linda Christensen

Linda, an MCAD graduate, has been carving the 90 pound Princess Kay butter heads for over 30 years. TPT has done a profile of Linda, which was also shown last night:

Just moments before the crown was lowered onto the 2011 Princess Kay of the Milky Way’s head:

Crowning of the 2011 Princess Kay of the Milky Way - Mary Zahurones

Mary Zahurones of Pierz, MN (representing Morrison County) took the title. She was a cross country runner in high school, and is starting a pre-med program at the U of MN this fall.

On the way out, The Other Mike picked up a copy of the Dairy Star – a 12 page race program.

Dairy Star

Clearly, if we had the race program ahead of time, we may have had a better luck with our picks.

A few differences this year:

– The parents of the contestants are the first thing mentioned when the contestants are introduced. Lots of credit goes to the daughter’s parents. But, this year, they didn’t mention the last names of parents. Perhaps that’s because one of the contestants – the winning one, in fact – doesn’t share her parents’ last name. As in, her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother remarried a dairy farmer.

– McDonald’s restaurants got a lot of plugs. Apparently, the dairy industry is fired up about the popularity of milk infused coffee drinks at the fast food king.

– The question “What are you going to do with your butter head?” got less play this year during the Q&A. Perhaps that’s because last year a contestant said that her mom would use it to make buns, and, and her dad says, “nobody beats my mom’s buns!” That question may need a cooling off period.

Biking Lake Pepin


The Other Mike and I biked near and around Lake Pepin two weekend ago. Great riding. That’s me above somewhere in Sconie along the Eastern shore of Lake Pepin. If my memory serves me right, that’s somewhere after Maiden Rock.

Here is what we covered over two days:

Mike & Ed's 2010 Weekend Lake Pepin Bike Tour

Day 1: We drove to Lake City, parked Mike’s car on a side street near some folks who were sitting on lawn chairs in their driveway drinking beer. Neighborhood watch. From there, we rode uphill away from the Mississippi to Zumbro Falls (more bars than people in this cute little town) then to Mazepa (painted fake cops patrol the highways and streets of this town), and North to Red Wing through Hay Creek Township. We spent the night there, had some German food & a few beers.

Day 2: Heading out of Red Wing, we crossed the Mississippi and took Wisconsin Hwy 35 south along the Mississippi. There is a no joke hill coming out of Bay City. We refueled with Spotted Cows and quesedillas in Maiden Rock. Just north of Pepin, we stopped at a wayside rest and struck up a conversation with another biker stupid enough to ride in the heat that weekend. It turns out that he was stupider than us, having started his day in Lino Lakes (90 miles). Here is is behind me, with camp gear and a B.O.B. trailer:


We pulled him into Nelson where we all stopped for ice cream cones and discussed how lucky Minneapolis is to have a mayor who buzzes around down town on a Nice Ride bike on his way to food trucks. He brought it up. Then he continued south toward Trempealeau.

After Nelson, Mike and I crossed back into Minnesota at Wabasha and worked our way north in the shade of the bluffs along Highway 61. The highway, at that point, has a steady flow of traffic, but a wide shoulder and speed limits between 45-55, which felt very comfortable.

Both sides of Lake Pepin were very bike friendly. If you want to take your time, you can stop at a zillion biker bars on the Wisconsin side. And, there are a ton of wayside rests, historical markers, and other scenic stuff to check out.

If you wanted to foodie it up, stop at The Harbor View Cafe in Pepin for lunch, Nelson’s Cheese for a picnic of wine and cheese or an ice cream cone, Pepin Heights for some apples, and Nosh (warning, really crappy website with sound) in Lake City for dinner. That would be a very full day of riding and dining. An awesome day.

Does Minnesota’s Prison Population Help Michele Bachmann?

Emily Badger has an article up on Miller-McCune that explains how NY state’s prison population skews congressional districts due to the census counting prison populations as residents of the prison’s district rather than as residents of the community the prisoner was from before being incarcerated.

The counting quirk sounds like a quandary for demographers. But it also means, come gerrymandering time, that many urban black communities look smaller than they actually are, a disproportionate number of their residents having been counted in the rural areas that are home to penitentiaries.

Most states redraw political districts every 10 years using census data, and so this counting practice has the effect of increasing the political power of anyone who lives near a prison, while decreasing the power of the communities where prisoners legally reside.

Interesting quirk.

I’d be curious to find out if anyone’s looked at this for Minnesota. What I do know is that Michele Bachmann’s 6th Congressional District happens to be the current home for many of Minnesota’s prisoners.

In fact, it looks like nearly half of Minnesota’s adult prisoners reside in the Michele Bachmann’s district:

I don’t know the answers. Does anyone know what impact counting the 4000+ incarcerated members of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district has on the 6th or the districts those prisoners largely came from, such as the 5th or 4th?

How White are HF3830 Supporter’s District’s?

Minnesota’s Arizona-like anti-Hispanic immigration policing bill is backed by representatives from very white parts of the state. How white? Here’s one way to look at it based on 2000 census data.

Hispanic Breakdown of HF3830 Supporters' Districts

The big blue bars represent the percentage of white folks living in each of the bill’s supporter’s districts (all rural Republicans). The red sections on top of the blue represent the percentage of non-white-non-Hispanics within each of the rep’s districts. It seems pretty safe to assume that this bill isn’t aimed at targeting black people, Native Americans, Asians, or Pacific Islanders.

The final slice, in gold, represents the percentage of Hispanic residents in each of the HF3830 supporter’s districts. On the high end, Ron Shimanski (R)’s District: 18A (Silver Lake) is 3.1% Hispanic, while Greg Davids (R) District: 31B has a mere 0.6% Hispanic population.

Here’s another way to look at it. Below is a map of the percentage of minorities by legislative district for the State of Minnesota:

Minority Populations of Minnesota Legislative Districts

Every single one of the co-authors of the Arizona-like immigration discrimination bill represents a district that is white on this map (less than 10% of their constituents are non-white).

Is this a case of fear of the unknown?

Or pandering to the fears of the unknown?

Newsbobber’s Blog Directory Descriptions

Bob Ingrassia’s new Minnesota blog directory and ranking system, Newsbobber, has received some buzz on Twitter today. This seems like the start of something useful for people interested in finding local bloggers who’re passionate about various topics.

One thing that’s cool about the directory is reading Newsbobber’s take on what they perceive each site to be about. That’s no easy task considering how many bloggers blog about whatever it is that interests them rather than focusing on specific topics (sports writers) or pre-set points of view (columnists).

Here’s Newsbobber’s take on this site:

Newsbobber says: Ed Kohler, a Web marketing and digital strategy expert, gives you The Deets. This is Kohler’s personal blog, where you will discover a guy who really hates unsolicited phone books. Kohler also regales readers with tidbits about beer, pizza, jogging, biking and, oddly enough, folded toilet paper in hotel bathrooms. On occasion, Kohler unleashes his considerable Web research skills to expose Internet trickery, shady practices and other modern-day skullduggery.

That’s awesome. I get the impression that Newsbobber reads The Deets more than I read The Deets.

One little nugget I find interesting in that The Deets appears to be the first site added to the directory. Check the ID at the end of the URL:

There was a time when I was #1. Then all hell broke loose.

Michele Bachmann’s Widget Puppetry

Aaron has a post over on MNPublius that outlines some of the ways Michelle Bachmann is using her government funded congressional website to endorse groups outside the scope of House rules. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s worth considering the value of links from a .gov site as Aaron alludes to at the bottom of his post. Links from government websites carry a LOT of credibility with search engines, leading to a significant boost in search engine rankings. Because of this, it’s smart of the House to have policies on what House members should and should not be linking to.

One other interesting nugget on Rep. Bachmann’s website is something called The Whip Widget where Rep. Bachmann syndicates in the latest headlines from the House Whip, Marc Cantor. At the time of this writing, the widget resided on the left column of Bachmann’s website and looked like this:

Michele Bachmann's The Whip Widget

I find this interesting because, as far as I can tell, Michele Bachmann was elected by the 6th District of Minnesota to represent the 6th District of Minnesota and not necessarily the interests of House Minority Whip, Marc Cantor, who represents the 7th District of Virginia.

I happen to reside in Minnesota’s 5th District, so my Rep. is Keith Ellison. Notice that his website doesn’t include a widget from James Clyburn. While Ellison and Bachmann come from very different sides of the aisle, I like to believe that both of them are professional enough to represent ALL of their constituents and not just those that align with party leaders from Virginia or South Carolina.

Perhaps Rep. Bachmann could reconsider her party puppetry widget and go back to representing the interests of all members of the 6th District of Minnesota?

Which MN Company Has the Highest Douchebag Concentration?

LinkedIn has a Key Statistics along the right column of their business profile pages where they show which schools a company’s employees attended. I suppose this information could be used to get a feel for what type of people work for a given company. Whether that really happens, I don’t know.


So, what does this have to do with douchebags? As mentioned here before, Urban Dictionary defines the term (2.2.):

“A student or instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. ”

So, based on that definition, a review of LinkedIn’s business profiles of Minnesota based companies employing CSoM grads should give us a good read on which companies are most douchebag heavy.

Here is what I found:

Douchebags By MN Company

Risdall Marketing Group is currently the most douchebaggy Minnesota based company by this metric, using Urban Dictionary’s definition. Stats don’t lie, right?

At this point, it appears that Risdall is just piling on, with another Carlson School of Management hire announced this week.

Yellow Pages Industry Failing Unsubscribe Policies Hurt Local Advertisers

The Yellow Pages industry is pretending to be consumer friendly this week now that a bill is flowing through the Minnesota legislature that’s designed to give state residents more control over which yellow page books end up on their doorsteps.

Let’s take a look at the reality of the situation.

The Yellow Pages industry maintains a website at This is a place where people could look up information about the industry. Except they’ve done something interesting with the site’s robots.txt file. (A robots.txt file is a file websites can publish that tells search engines what they can and can’t visit). The robots.txt file at looks like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

That’s it. Only two lines long. That tells search engines that they shouldn’t read anything on the website. Imagine if someone could Google for terms like “ypassociation Minnesota” to find out what the YP Association has said about Minnesota in the past. You can’t, because the industry doesn’t want you to.

Buried within the non-indexed site is a page that lists the phone numbers of yellow pages companies that can be used to opt-out of their directories. They’ve made this page inaccessible by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and, so they probably don’t want people to really know about it.

Here is how they present the page:

Yellow Pages Association | Consumer Choice

Wow, sure sounds nice. An environmental page that claims to be consumer friendly and gives people a choice about what types of print spam they’re willing to tolerate. How refreshing.

Here are the Minneapolis contacts:

* 1-866-60-MY-DEX or 866-606-9339

Idearc Inc.
* 800-888-8448, select Option 2

Yellow Book USA, Inc.
* 1-800 YBYELLOW (800) 929-3556 and press 2

But wait a minute. What’s this at the bottom of the page:

Yellow Pages Association | Consumer Choice

Oh my. The industry that claims to be environmentally sensitive and consumer friendly won’t accept opt-out requests from sites designed to allow people to opt-out of all phone books using a single form. is an example of this.

So the industry says they’re cool with you opting out of phone book delivery. Yet they won’t accept opt-out requests from consumers unless consumers take the time to contact each and every company that drops a piece of print spam at their door.

Local Advertisers: Wake up!

Local yellow pages advertisers: Are you paying attention? Do you get what this means for you?

It means you’re paying for the printing, delivery, and taxes on the disposal and recycling of thousands and thousands of books that are never used. And the yellow pages company is working hard to make sure you continue to pay for advertising that will never be seen.

If the yellow pages truly cared about local advertisers, they would do everything they could to make sure ONLY people who plan to use the yellow pages would receive yellow pages.

Until yellow pages companies start treating local businesses with respect, local businesses should redirect their marketing dollars to industries that are focused on providing value to businesses rather than inflating distribution rates.

License Tab Renewals are More Expensive Online?

This baffles me:

Online Costs MORE Than Offline?

Why does it cost $1.75 more for an online renewal than mailing in a check?

Here’s my current theory: They’re Ignoring Labor Costs

At some point in history, someone with the state probably noticed that accepting credit card charges involves absorbing merchant fees. I don’t know what the state’s merchant fees are, but let’s assume they’re around $0.25 per transaction plus 2.5%, which seems reasonable. If that’s the case, the cost of processing an online transaction would be $1.28. Not quite $1.75, but in the ballpark.

But rather than absorb those costs, the decision was made to pass them along to consumers. Strangely, they decided to call it a “handling” fee even though less handling is done with online transactions.

Processing a check doesn’t include those hard dollar costs.

However, processing checks involves collecting mail, opening it, typing the transaction into a computer (something the purchaser does online), reconciling the day’s transactions, and sending the deposits to the bank, and dealing with bounced checks. None of these steps involve a cash outlay, but they all take time. And as the old saying goes, “time is money.”

Someone needs to add up the salaries of everyone involved in processing paper transactions at the state from the mail room through accounts receivable. Divide the number of paper transactions processed per year by their salaries. Is that number higher or lower than $1.75 per transaction? My money’s on higher, which would mean that we’re taxing efficiency.