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Strib opens talks to sell off stadium land

Lest we ever forget how determined the Strib was to get the Vikings stadium built in their backyard … Janet Moore of the paper reports: “Ryan Cos. and the Star Tribune have agreed to an exclusive negotiation period to work out a development deal for the newspaper's downtown property. Rick Collins, vice president of development for the Minneapolis-based developer, said Tuesday that Ryan may be interested in purchasing four of five blocks owned by the newspaper, all of which will be near the planned $975 million Vikings stadium and the Downtown East/Metrodome light-rail station. A fifth block near the stadium is being eyed for purchase by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is spearheading development of the new football stadium. … Star Tribune spokesman Steve Yaeger declined to comment on the agreement.” It’s no business of the damned press!

Gov. Dayton wants to hear what’s going on with those electronic pull-tabs and the cash that’s supposed to pay for the stadium. Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “Spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said the governor is asking for a briefing on the games from Minnesota Gambling Control Board executive director Tom Barrett, revenue commissioner Myron Frans, Public Safety commissioner Mona Dohman and staff from the state's budget office. Financial experts said last week that the pull-tabs are not being implemented as quickly as hoped, and might not meet the projected first-year revenue. Taxes from the games are earmarked to pay for the state's share of the new NFL stadium, costing about $1 billion.”

The IRRRB is trying to look alluring for Hollywood. At the Duluth News Tribune, John Myers writes: “The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board on Thursday will be asked to approve financial incentives to movie producers willing to shoot their films in Northeastern Minnesota. IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich is asking the board to enact a new “Film Production Incentive Program” of up to 20 percent for each film’s expenses, with a cap of $500,000 per production. The program would be capped at $800,000 for 2013. Sertich said that investment could attract $8 million in spending from two feature films eyeing the Iron Range for production in 2013. … The Film Board last month confirmed that a feature-length film set on the Iron Range is scheduled to begin shooting in early 2013. ‘Thanksgiving at Denny’s’ is a dramatic comedy about a bipolar Chicago-based computer programmer who loses his job and returns to his hometown to chase the girl he has been obsessed with since high school.” … Although there is a whole other “Denny” who would make one killer movie.

Also from Myers the feds have blown another deadline: “The federal government has missed another deadline to impose new regulations for Minnesota taconite plants aimed at reducing air pollutants that cause haze. The Environmental Protection Agency was under a court-ordered agreement to make a final recommendation by Nov. 10, then Nov. 27 and then Dec. 10, but it has now delayed a decision until at least mid-January, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials confirmed Tuesday.”

In the New York Daily News, Michael Walsh covers the story of a Minnesota woman crosswise with the recording industry who wants the Supreme Court to take her case: “A Minnesota woman was fined $222,000 for downloading 24 songs on the now-obsolete file-sharing service Kazaa. Now she is asking the Supreme Court to review the jury’s decision concerning how much she should pay the recording industry. Jammie Thomas-Rasset finds the damages excessive and not reasonably related to the harm downloading two-dozen songs posed to the Recording Industry Association of America. ‘In a civil case, Thomas-Rasset cannot be punished for the harm inflicted on the recording industry by file sharing in general’, the petition read, ‘while that would no doubt help accomplish the industry’s and Congress’s goal of deterring copyright infringement, singling out and punishing an individual in a civil case to a degree entirely out of proportion with her individual offense is not a constitutional means of achieving that goal.’ ”

Echoes of Milli Vanilli … in the Strib, Kristin Tillotson says: “For just the second time in its 48-year history, one of the Twin Cities' most anticipated holiday shows will be performed to recorded music rather than a live orchestra. "Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy," Minnesota Dance Theatre's seasonal production at the Cowles Center, will use a taped score because MDT and the local musicians union failed to reach an agreement on the number of players needed. The dance company offered part-time work for 23 musicians; the union negotiating committee voted that no fewer than 27 players would be needed to perform a score that composer Tchaikovsky originally intended for a full symphony.”

Red meat for talk radio … . Tom Scheck of MPR says: “A final audit report shows Minnesota will save roughly $4 million by cutting off about four thousand dependents of state employees who were wrongly receiving state health benefits. Minnesota Management and Budget says 4,218 dependents of state workers were not eligible to receive health benefits. That's a higher number than the department estimated in August when MPR News first reported the preliminary audit results. But even though the number of dependents is higher, the expected savings are lower. The report found that the state would save about $4 million for the current calendar year, not the $10 million officials projected when preliminary results were released in August.”

We’re fifth best! WCCO-TV has an item up saying: “Even though many Minnesotans are sedentary, and almost 300,000 have diabetes, a national study lists us as the fifth healthiest state. … They consider premature birth, cancer and heart disease. As well as tobacco and alcohol abuse, in addition to exercise. Minnesota has some of the lowest numbers for sedentary lifestyle and diabetes. But it ranks high for binge drinking.”

If he can do to filibuster abuse what he did to Chris Fields … Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “A federal judge has begun hearing arguments on Senate filibuster rules this week in a lawsuit brought by critics, including Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, who argue the practice has held up immigration reform in Congress. Several groups, including Common Cause and several Democratic lawmakers, argue that Congress is constitutionally required to pass legislation by a simple majority vote, instead of a 60-vote supermajority that can hold up debate indefinitely. … Defenders of the filibuster (usually the minority party at any given time) say it protects the rights of minority parties.” Look it up — this country was founded on minority rule.

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Comments (3)

About that audit . . . . . .

The MPR article also says:

"The report found no evidence of fraud among state employees. In fact, the biggest reason dependents were declared ineligible was because state employees didn't submit the appropriate paperwork by the audit's deadline. About 1,000 dependents who lost benefits due to the audit were re-enrolled for coverage for next year."

So before those talk radio jocks get all juiced up for that "red meat", they would do well to read the above passage. And that rather than all that "fraud" that people were getting all worked up about, it would appear that instead, the burdensome and last-minute process of the audit itself (which was commented on here at MinnPost at the time) created an appearance of ineligible dependents being covered when - in fact - what actually appears to have happened is that eligible dependents have temporarily lost their coverage just because the paperwork was so difficult to get completed in the brief time allotted.

That - it could be argued - is an injustice of quite a different sort.

So, about 3,000

dependents were located and appropriately terminated. A good result, if only this had been done in a more responsible manner! (I was one of those who had to dig deeply into the family archives to prove eligibility for myself and my son. Who knew it would be so hard to find that marriage license?)

I wonder, however, how many of those who were terminated will qualify if/when Minnesota extends benefits to gay partners of state employees. While that doesn't legitimize any fraudulent enrollment, it may highlight the inequity of our current marital policy.

If you pay them,

will they come?

Pardon my perennial skepticism, but it seems to me that the logistics of filming in the Arrowhead may well outweigh the proposed benefits. Of course, film producers will have to make that decision.

However, I am concerned about entering a competition with 41 other states to lure film production, an industry offering sporadic employment at best and only temporary boosts to the local economy. Why subsidize an industry for which our economy cannot otherwise compete? It's one thing to help lay the groundwork for establishing a long term industry, another entirely to drag in the occasional one-off.