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Daily Glean: Dirty dirt down by the river

Oops: Petrochemical-soaked ballpark soil from the Twins stadium site was improperly deposited on a Burnsville flood plain last summer, the Strib’s Heron Marquez Estrada reports. Possible clean-up cost: $1 million. Haulers juuust missed getting 2,800 dump trucks worth of dirty dirt into the proper repository, a lined Burnsville landfill. Who pays? Maybe the public ballpark authority, or landfill owner Waste Management. Hauler hirer Mortenson Construction ain’t talkin’.

More dirt: The story says two Minnesota Pollution Control Agency divisions “did not communicate with each other” about the project, so one part of the agency could’ve said yes to the dumping. The agency admits the two divisions don’t talk to each other. The dirt was used to build a Minnesota River levee so the landfill can be expanded. The Glean is more worried about what a landfill is doing so close to a flood plain.

The PiPress crosses the river to report on the plague of Minneapolis potholes. David Hanners reports that the city is using 7 tons of asphalt a day, compared with last year’s 4 tons. Why is it worse in Minneapolis? Over the years, the city has skimped on public works maintenance versus police and fire staffing. It stopped seal-coating streets years ago. Annually, the city can improve about 2.5 miles of streets. It has 1,000 miles all told.

Everyone notes the reported stranger rape at the U. Two men dragged an 18-year-old woman into a Pioneer Hall restroom about 1 a.m. early Sunday, the Minnesota Daily reports. WCCO says police don’t think the suspects were students, and may have come in an unmonitored entrance. They were not seen on surveillance tape, the PiPress reports. It’s the school’s first reported stranger rape this year.

A fire destroyed an airplane hangar in Crystal. The PiPress says one man was injured and damage could top $1 million. Police theorize a truck backfire led to the destruction, which wiped out two planes, two motorcycles and the truck. The Strib says another couple of planes were damaged. WCCO’s raw video is here.

Not precisely local, but Continental Airlines declined to merge with United. That marriage had been widely assumed following NWA-Delta. Continental’s financial strength is second only to Southwest, AP reports. Meanwhile, United reported its biggest loss since its 2006 bankruptcy. The New York Times says Continental could pull out of the SkyTeam Alliance that includes Delta and NWA. The event does question the merge-or-die ethos. Local reporters: Any resonance for NWA’s decision that went the other way?

The PiPress’s Alex Friedrich details Hamline’s plan to fit 500 more students on its 60-acre campus in five years. That’s a 25 percent enrollment jump. Neighbors complain about traffic, historic-house removal and lost campus-edge green space. The school would sell some houses west of Snelling Avenue. Kids would get a new student center and central green space. No groundbreaking for at least three years, but the school’s board is voting next month.

The PiPress’s Dave Orrick delves into the U’s decision to spike the Washington Avenue light-rail alignment following a “fragile” agreement. Two days after a gubernatorial veto, the U released findings saying a Dinkytown alignment would be faster and cheaper. Then they visited congressfolk to voice concerns. U exec Kathy O’Brien is “trying to get to yes” on the current alignment. There’s more hashing time: Federal officials will get to the plan later than expected, in February.

Back to landfills for a moment: The Strib’s Bill McAuliffe crafts a front-pager on a Minneapolis neighborhood’s attempt to turn food scraps — and used pizza boxes, and milfoil — into power. Linden Hills Power and Light will build an anaerobic digester, more commonly seen on big farms, to capture methane from the rot. Households would mix food waste, non-recyclable paper and yard waste. The story’s light on details about collecting the possibly pungent material, a concern of this homeowner.

The Strib acknowledges that “much … remains unknown” about new MnDOT chief Tom Sorel, but plunges in anyway. As a federal official, Sorel told MnDOT they needed to do a better job of estimating and control costs. He helped rush federal aid to the 35W bridge rebuild project. He impressed a transit advocate with his knowledge of minutiae. He’s not a mike hog. He stayed neutral in the fight over a higher gas tax.

At MPR’s News Cut, Bob Collins dares the media to ask a different question about Tim Pawlenty. Not “will he be vice-president?” but “is he ready to be president?” Any takers?

Speaking of public radio, Minneapolis-based Public Radio International’s new morning show debuts todaybut not here. Called “The Takeaway,” it stars a familiar NPR name — John Hockenberry — and a not-so-familiar one, Adaora Udoji. The website promises an all-live hour, no taped segments, with plenty of audience interaction. Of course there’s a podcast!

The Strib’s Susan Feyder looks at the “mess” that is Minneapolis’ Sexton condos. It’s the worst of both worlds: Most units are unsold, and many sales occurred only because of mortgage fraud. The first-time developer owed a convicted fraudster money. The Downtown Journal has covered this case extensively; a good story on how the few legit condo owners have banded together to fight back is here.

Via the Daily Planet: nice rundown on the Mall of America parking ramp subsidy bill, from Session Weekly. Intriguingly, the story chronicles the subsidy will cost outstate cities perhaps $1,000 each in local government aid while metro cities share a budget loss of $1.2 million. Lots of jobs, though, and some state sales-tax gains if non-Minnesotans flock to the mall’s proposed Phase II. None of it will happen without the ramp subsidy, mall owners contend.

If you’re a j-junkie and missing the work of ex-PiPresser Chuck Laszewski, he’s been digging through the East German police files on Dean Reed. Who? The American singer (contemporary of the Everly Brothers, among others) who bolted behind the Red Curtain, re-emerging in 1978 to be arrested at Minnesota power line protest. Laszewski has a book out about Reed’s death (won’t spoil the ending) and discusses “The Red Elvis” at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

Nort spews:
Although the Strib labeled them “Terrible Texas” yesterday, the Rangers went right out and whacked the Twins 10-0. This is not a team that inspires hubris, headline-writers. The Vikes draft USC QB David Booty, inspiring clichéd headlines involving the word “call.” Thank god he wasn’t around for the Love Boat fiasco.

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