ST. PAUL - Minnesota political leaders continue to wonder how Delta Air Lines' takeover of Northwest Airlines will affect the state.
They have discussed the situation for much of the year, and held hearings during the legislative session. Now that the deal has been sealed, Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, will hold a Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee meeting on Nov. 13 to look into the situation.
On his weekly radio show Friday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said some state officials are considering whether the millions of dollars in bonds the state issued to help Northwest in the past could be called in immediately. However, he said, the money would be paid to bond holders, not the state.
U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., has not softened his criticism of the merger: "Creeping consolidation in the airline industry will likely mean fewer choices, higher fares and diminished levels of service for the traveling public."
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson agreed with Oberstar that the takeover may hurt.
"I am deeply concerned about the impact of this merger on Minnesota, with Northwest Airlines being one of the state's largest employers," Swanson said. "Minnesota's unemployment rate of 6.2 percent now exceeds the national average for one of the first times in recorded history, and our rate of personal income growth ranks 49 of 50 states."
The headline attracted a Minnesotan's attention: "Friendliest state keen on Obama."
What other state would The Australian, an on-line newspaper from down under, be talking about?
"Minnesota, in the frozen north, has long been a state unlike any other," wrote the newspaper's Los Angeles reporter, Robert Lusetich. "One in four of the state's residents comes from German heritage and one in eight hails from Norwegian stock. Other Scandinavians are also well represented in a state that celebrates its heritage. Culturally, Minnesota's different. It's without doubt the most hospitable and friendly U.S. state."
The story goes on to compliment the state (including the motorist who pumped gasoline for the reporter because he was a guest in this country) and then turns to how Republicans finally began to make gains in the state in recent years.
"But in just one of the many miscues that have cursed the (John) McCain campaign, (Gov. Tim) Pawlenty was overlooked in favour of the shock value of Sarah Palin, and the nose-diving economy has now almost guaranteed that Barack Obama will be the ninth straight Democratic presidential candidate to win Minnesota," Lusetich wrote.
The 2008 election is not even history yet, but perennial losing candidate Ole Savior has established a campaign committee for Minnesota's 2010 governor's race.
Savior, who has run for a variety of offices and generally collects few votes, again is running as a Democratic-Farmer-Laborite.
McFarlin lands job
The face of the Minnesota Department of Transportation during last year's bridge collapse aftermath has become a public relations' firm vice president.
Robert McFarlin, who also served as transportation commissioner after senators booted Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, has become the Weber Shandwick vice president of its corporate, community and public affairs Twin Cities' practice.
At one point, McFarlin was president of MCF Consulting Group, a public relations and public affairs consulting firm and he has held other public relations jobs.