The plight of the USPS
THUMBS DOWN: Who's to blame for the U.S. Postal Service's current financial predicament? Take a look in the mirror. It's our fault. The Postal Service is planning $3 billion in reductions aimed at helping the agency avert bankruptcy next year, and that includes closing post offices nationwide (resulting in the loss of about 28,000 jobs) and slowing first-class delivery next spring. The USPS says steadily declining mail volume is the culprit, but the only reason mail volume has fallen off the cliff is because of us and our dependency on the ease and convenience of cyber mail. We don't write letters on stationery anymore and drop them in a mailbox, we email them. We don't rely on the USPS to mail our bills because we can pay most of them online now. We're all about ease, speed and convenience these days and that fast-food mentality is the sledgehammer that is pounding away at the USPS. So don't complain when your post office shuts down or when the cost of a stamp hits 50 cents; because of our reliance on technology, we have only ourselves to blame.
Rough patch for GOP, but also an opportunity
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: Tony Sutton's resignation as the state's GOP party chairman leaves a huge hole for the party to fill. Sometime in the next month that hole will be filled, but there are other problems for the party, too - financial ones. The party is $500,000 in debt, a fact that isn't lost on GOPers or Democrats. But Sutton's departure could signal a change of direction for the party if it can find itself a true leader who will spark excitement within the party and come up with solutions to lead it into the black. In that silver-lining sense, maybe Sutton leaving will turn out to be a positive for GOPers. The Republicans have a lot of work to do - solving its debt problem, finding a candidate to run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar next year - but its main focus now should be righting the ship, and that starts with finding the right captain.
Too many funding options? No such thing
THUMBS UP: Of the eight funding options for a new Vikings stadium, half of them could be considered non-specific to the future of the franchise - a casino at Block E in downtown Minneapolis, electronic pull tabs and bingo, Racino and a racing complex on the Iron Range. Let's say after all the dust has settled that one of these options will be used to subsidize a new stadium; that leaves three other plausible revenue-generating ideas. What's the point? The point is the state should strongly consider these plans to raise revenue for the state. Sure, we have a surplus now, but that won't be the case in a couple years; a deficit of some size will return and when it does it would be nice to know the state has some options in balancing the budget - options we think are strong enough and doable enough to help avoid another shutdown and put an end to school aid shifts.
THUMBS DOWN: The DNR confirmed that the 125-pound cougar that was shot recently in Jackson County posed no imminent public threat. If that's the case and this was just a couple of guys out looking to shoot something, it's a real tragedy. Cougars are protected animals in Minnesota and state statute makes it illegal for a resident to kill one in most circumstances. We hope this doesn't turn into some sort of trigger-happy trend.