Daily Glean: 500K keeps the Coens from Green Bay

The locals go cuckoo that the Coen brothers will film their next movie here. A $500,000 state grant did the trick, and we got a hometown discount over Wisconsin’s more generous rebate, the Strib’s Colin Covert reports. Theoretically, the film will generate $6 million or so in economic activity. “A Serious Man” begins shooting Sept. 8. This is an excuse to recall the U economics class I took from the Oscar winners’ dad. Good prof, but what I remember most is he swore like a sailor.

The Strib’s David Phelps says UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Helmsley and backdated stock options might’ve been tighter than previously believed. Company-sponsored investigations cleared Helmsley, who replaced the king of backdating, Bill McGuire. However, shareholders led by the California pension fund CALPERS allege Helmsley “personally offered backdated options to all new hires [and] approved mass grants.”

WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports that slumping car sales mean $15 million less for local mass transit. That’s because 21 percent of the sales tax on car purchases goes to buses and trains. The sales-tax drop and higher gas prices make a fall fare increase inevitable; the issue will be decided next month. Mass transit’s sales-tax share escalates to 36 percent in 2012.

Ground-level foreclosure tale from KSTP and the Strib. City officials emptied an eight-unit complex in the middle of the day; on TV, the pain and confusion is evident; one mom complains that her daughter arrived back from school to no home. However, the city gave residents final notice three weeks ago, and half the units lacked copper piping. Neighbors say it’s a good move against a drug-infested hotspot where the rental license had been revoked.

Finance & Commerce offers a good look at the property tax cap’s effect on metro counties. Anoka County plans an “all but certain” tax-hike referendum (that’s uncapped); Hennepin County foresees human-service cuts (atop reduced state hospital reimbursements) and cash-strapped Ramsey County is carefully examining the cap’s exemptions.

Couple interesting items from the Business Journal: local auto magnate Denny Hecker might be buying the Dollar/Thrifty rental car brands … or selling Advantage Rent-A-Car. Also, that long-stalled downtown Minneapolis Lunds might be going into a development just south of the Orpheum.

Lawyers helping lawyers: MPR’s Tom Scheck notes that attorneys for 35W victims received fresh ammunition from Wednesday’s legislative-commission report. (For what I hope is the last time: authored by my wife’s law firm, but not my wife.) The report featured rare testimony from MnDOT consultant URS, and trial lawyer Jim Schwebel says they’ve become a fatter target. For you legal geeks: URS was represented by Dorsey & Whitney during the investigation.

MPR’s Tom Robertson reports that 60 percent of northwest Minnesota nursing homes are in danger of closing. Statewide, a third are threatened. The average nursing home loses $25 per patient per day due to government reimbursement rates. This year’s modest legislative increase isn’t enough to stem the problem, advocates say. Beds are down, and so is demand, but boomers might change that.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is oh-for-three trying to convict suspected shooters of North Minneapolis teen bystanders, but now hopes the fourth time’s a charm. The Strib’s Terry Collins and Rochelle Olson say Freeman will try a second man in the case of Vernice Hall, who suffered massive brain damage in a 2007 incident. The first defendant was exonerated this week; even the victim’s dad admitted the evidence wasn’t convincing. Freeman also struck out twice in the Charez Jones killing.

It’s a holiday-weekend Friday, so I recommend you take a moment and enjoy PiPresser Richard Chin’s tour through Chicago’s All-Candy Expo. Who’d you sweet-talk to get that assignment, Richard?

KARE’s Karla Hult has a nice human-interest feature on Karen Nyberg, who next week will become the 50th woman in space. The robot-arm operator is from Vining, Minn., a town of 68 people. Probably a spacegoing first: her dad’s a sculptor. The report is worth watching just for the town’s sculpture garden.

Speaking of: MPR’s Marianne Combs offers a look at an unusual Walker Sculpture Garden design show. It features creative, affordable tools that help the Third World. Clever water filters, bamboo pumps — it’s a great mix of art and practicality.

I don’t get to Northeast Minneapolis as much as I’d like, so I’ve never heard of a family restaurant called, effervescently, Pop! The PiPress’s Nancy Ngo says the all-ages eatery could fill the Fhima’s space in downtown St. Paul. Not quite the class joint that local swells originally envisioned, but it might have a better chance of success.

The PiPress’s must-read “Opinuendo” column says felt-tipped portrait vandals should smell Jesse Ventura’s hot breath; mocks Gov. Pawlenty’s not-very-feigned veepstakes interest; and says tax rankings mean bad news for tax haters: “We’re not tip-top any more … please adjust your rhetoric accordingly.”

WCCO’s Darcy Pohland pours cold water on Minneapolis’s $180,000 plan to market city agua. The killshot: Pohland notes the city spends just $11,600 to fix potholes. Mayor R.T. Rybak says the cash can’t be spent on tar; it’s limited to water purposes.

An ex-Minneapolis councilmember goes to court to get President Bush arrested come GOP convention time. Politely, the Strib’s Rochelle Olson calls it a “long shot.” Ed Felien wants Bush prosecuted for murder in the Iraq War, conspiracy to fix oil prices and opium distribution in Afghanistan. Prosecutors, taking it seriously, say a judge shouldn’t be allowed to order them to investigate anyone. No ruling date is set.

Barry Casselman, who lives near the 35W collapse, celebrates “Minneapolis’ Bridge to Somewhere” in the Washington Times. Local pols get plenty of praise.

The PiPress’s John Welbes says beginning next Wednesday, you can use your cellphone as a Northwest boarding pass. Just not here, yet; Indianapolis is the test market. Thanks to cumbersome local procedures, we don’t get our turn until year’s end. The familiar bar code is sent to your handheld device, which you can wave over the scanner. It won’t take the sting out of high fares, but it is truly paperless!

Nort spews: The Twins slip back under .500 with an 8-7 extra-inning loss to Texas. To quote the Internet: meh.

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