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Would visitors flock to 'connected' cultural Hennepin Avenue?

Have you noticed the “disconnected experience” on Hennepin Avenue? The Strib’s Kristin Tillotson says: “If a coalition of arts groups has its way, the entire 2 miles between the Walker Art Center and the Mississippi River will become a pedestrian-friendly cultural destination. Their plan, to be funded by a combination of public, nonprofit and business-community sources, emphasizes building on the avenue's existing strengths. ‘To get more people downtown, we don't need to build a Millennium Park like Chicago,’ said Olga Viso, director of the Walker and a partner in the cultural-district planning group. ‘We already have great assets, we just need to link them. Right now, Hennepin is a disconnected experience.’ ” How about a bright, shiny chrome electronic pull-tab machine on the Avenue, as a tourist lure?

Joe Tarr’s story in Madison’s Isthmus reminds us again of the ideological distinctions separating Minnesota and Wisconsin’s governors’ offices: “As the federal government works on setting up a health insurance exchange in Wisconsin, the governor's office appears to be largely silent on how it would like the system to be set up. … Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), who co-chaired the meeting, says he invited representatives from the governor's office, the Office of Insurance Commissioner, and the Department of Administration, as well as Republican legislators. None showed up. … As for why nobody attended the Thursday's meeting, [insurance commissioner’s office spokesman J. P.] Wieske says: ‘I"m not so sure that was the right forum to have a discussion.’ He adds: ‘It's great to have a meeting, but we need to have these final rules in writing,’ he says, referring to the health care act's final administrative rules. ‘The fact that a lot of these rules aren't yet finalized is a pretty big problem.' " Those feds. Always playing the obstructionist card …


Also from Madison, Mike Ivey of the Cap Times writes about the time-honored, but generally unproductive strategy of “job poaching”: “One of the more frowned-upon techniques of economic development is so-called “job poaching,” where states or local governments try to lure companies to jump across municipal or state borders with various incentives or giveaways. While it might look good for a politician to say he “created 100 new jobs” by getting a company to relocate, the broader net impact is generally minimal. In cases where subsidies are involved, these efforts can actually prove an economic loser for taxpayers. … ‘The result is a vast waste of taxpayer funds, paying for the geographic reshuffling of existing jobs rather than new business activity,’ says Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First. ‘By pretending that these jobs are new, public officials and the recipient companies engage in what amounts to interstate job fraud.’

Somewhat related … . Adam Belz of the Strib says: “Gov. Mark Dayton is seeking to collect $2.2 billion in new taxes on sales between companies, but many in the business community say he shouldn't expect to get that much. If approved, the sweeping new levy on business-to-business services will set off a mad dash of firms jockeying to avoid the tax, executives and economists say. Some companies will succeed, cutting into the actual return for Minnesota.”

Giving good quote to the very last day … In the McClatchy story on last night’s final “discussion” of gun rights, this one on ammo, we have this line from the ever-reliable GOP Rep. Tony Cornish: “Cornish, R- Vernon Center, said the gun on his hip has a 15-round clip. ‘I hope that doesn't make me a bad person,’ he said. ‘I just don't want to run out of self-defense for fear of shooting bad.’ Cornish, a former police chief, noted that no one would argue that law enforcement should have a limit on the number of rounds they can carry. ‘I don't think police officers have any more right to defend their own lives than citizens,’ Cornish said.” To paraphrase the old line … “When your opponent is making a cartoon of himself, keep him stocked in plenty of ink.”

The GleanIn observance of Dairy Day, there’s this from AgriNews: “Minnesota Milk president Pat Lunemann presented Minnesota's dairy industry statistics to the House Agriculture Policy Committee. Minnesota milk production is up 2 percent from 2011 to 2012 and production per cow is up 2.7 percent year over year. The number of cows was steady at 465,000. The number of dairy farmers dropped to 3,900. Each cow is worth $25,000 in economic activity, Lunemann said. Nationwide, more than 13 percent of dairy products are exported and Minnesota's share of that was $218 million in 2012, he said.” Is that more than we’re getting from electronic pull-tabs?

At MPR, Sasha Aslainian has a story about a Benson, Minn., ranch for sexually exploited girls: “Founded more than 20 years ago as a place for abused or neglected girls, the ranch accepts girls referred by county child protection workers for a variety of reasons, but largely because they have been abused or neglected. In recent years, Minnesota counties have increasingly sent girls who are victims of sex trafficking, some of whom were sold on websites like backpage.com. … Girls ages 12 to 18 spend an average of eight or nine months living at the ranch and attend classes in their own wing of the Benson High School. ... Counties pay $169 a day for each girl they send to the ranch, which provides a safe, therapeutic environment.” Has Village Voice Media [backpage.com] made even a donation to the ranch?

So apparently there’s a second local company in the finals for the Vikings stadium job. Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson says it’s among the final contenders to win the job from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. … ‘KA’ has been talking to one of the two finalists, Arizona-based Hunt Construction Group for four years, and that Hunt and KA inked a joint venture deal on Wednesday. [COO Alan Gerhardt] says Hunt brings the experience from nine other football stadiums, including a half dozen with ‘operable’ roofs. But as Gerhardt describes it, KA will actually be doing the heavy lifting for the Hunt bid.”

Or maybe someone’s just looking for a date? City Pages’ Kevin Hoffman notices PiPresser Richard Chin’s tweet and writes: “We assume it's for a story on sexy accountants (perhaps based on this website called SexyAccountant.com?) but maybe they just want to spice up the office. Here it is, the greatest crowdsourcing tweet of all time:   'Wanted: Sexy Accountants. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is seeking nominations for its Sexy Accountant Contest. Email rchin@pioneerpress.com.’ ” Or heck, just meet me for drinks …

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