Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It's Ground Hog's Day! I guess it's kind of appropriate for the Legislature to be starting the same week as Ground Hog's Day. I heard on the radio the Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, meaning he'll be rolling out of bed in six weeks. If his hole were in Minnesota, he'd be waking up just in time to see the Minnesota Legislature embroiled in the difficult task of reconciling a budget situation that is way out of whack. If I were Phil, I think I'd head down the hole for another ten or twelve weeks, just to make certain that the Minnesota Legislature is done with its work and it's safe to come out. Of course, if he remained too soundly asleep, who knows what he'd miss? Could be anything from a shifting of Ground Hog's Day to earlier in the fiscal year, a cut in ground hog-related services, or a property tax increase on his burrow. Be scared Phil. Be very scared.

Actually, the upcoming Legislative Session reminds me more of the movie Ground Hog's Day. Last session, we woke up to enormous budget problems. This year, we're waking up to. . .more enormous budget problems. Next year I'm guessing we'll be waking up once again to. . . enormous budget problems if recent projections remain accurate. My only hope is that the session this year ends with as happy an ending as that movie, although I doubt that we will witness much comedy--at least intentional comedy--during the 2010 Legislative Session.

Actually, I probably shouldn't be so gloomy (at least about the long term). The national fourth quarter economic growth figures reported an initial estimate of 5.7% growth. Obviously, with the economy being down so long, the first lurches upward are likely to be significant, but I'll take any growth at this point. While job growth remains uninspiring, a recent story on MPR reported that online job postings rose by nearly 9,000 listings between December and January, the largest increase since 2006. That same story reported that residential building permit requests are up from last year, but still dawdling well behind the halcyon housebuilding days of 2005 and 2006.

MPR Story: http://http//minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/02/01/jobopenings/Before

I close off the ground hog theme, I nearly drove off the road this morning when I heard that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) actually lodged a complaint regarding the treatment of Punxsutawney Phil and suggested that a robot be used instead of a live ground hog for the annual media event surrounding Ground Hog's Day. PETA believes "it's unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany tens of thousands of revelers" to Punxsutawney every February 2nd. William Deeley, the head honcho of the club that sponsors the annual event says that Phil is "being treated better than the average kid in Pennsylvania," which means Phil's got it great or it really stinks to be a kid in Pennsylvania. At any rate, I think Phil probably enjoys lounging in his ground hog bachelor pad more than being pursued by the predators who'd be trying to order the Ground Hog Extra Value Meal in the wild. Further, I don't the the "P" in PETA will ever stand for "public relations." My suggestion to PETA is to head down to Haiti and help some of the Haitian wildlife displaced by the earthquake and while they are there, put their collective shoulder to the wheel for the people that live there as well.

Precinct Caucuses Tonight. I hope many of your will be attending your precinct caucuses this evening. Whether you're a Republican, Democrat, or Independenter (they need to have a contest to determine what they should call members of the Independence Party), it's important to have your voice heard and cast your vote in the gubernatorial straw ballot. Convention season comes early this year, as all three parties will have their endorsed candidates determined (if the delegates necessary for an individual endorsement can be garnered by a single candidate at the respective state conventions) by May. So go out and have some fun!

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