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Daily Glean: Does adoption study equal controversy?

A sure-to-be controversial U study says kids adopted as infants have twice the rate of behavior disorders as non-adoptees, the Strib reports. Reporter Josephine Marcotty instantly cautions that both groups’ rate is “relatively low.” That depends on how you look at it: one in seven adoptees (ages 11-21) had ADHD; one in 14 non-adoptees do, though depression/anxiety rates were similar. U.S. adoptees had “somewhat higher” supplemental health problems than non-U.S. kids. Buried: “No one understands why adopted children are more troubled.”

Finance & Commerce’s Bob Geiger says that even though there are 13 shopping days left in the legislative session, state Sen. Linda Berglin will push for a constitutional amendment limiting Health Care Access Fund transfers to non-health uses. If both houses approve, it bypasses Gov. Pawlenty and goes to voters. A companion bill is in the House.

The Army Corps of Engineers says “failure is imminent” for walls above and below Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis, KARE reports. Erosion under the walls’ base means they could collapse; one part already has. But don’t worry – you have 30 days to comment on the $1.5 million fix, or buy safety ropes for your visit. Contact these folks about it.

Target will expand its $4-perscription program after Wal-Mart did the same, AP reports. Wal-Mart says it will offer 90-day supplies of some drugs for $10 and add several women’s meds to the program; the story says Target will match major elements. Fosamax is new to the list, and Tamoxifen goes for $9 a month. More than 1,000 over-the-counter drugs – one-third of Wal-Mart’s formulary — will also see price cuts. More details from the local company coming.

On the b-to-b front, Target has sold half its credit-card receivables, giving the retailer $3.6 billion to build stores and buy up shares, the Strib’s Jackie Crosby notes. Cardholders won’t notice a change, and those pitches at the checkout lines won’t stop. Selling out while Target stores are mired in a slump is a “relief,” says one analyst.

U-area businesses failed 70 percent of Minneapolis’s underage-liquor-sale checks
since 2003, the Minnesota Daily’s Andy Steinke reports. That compares with a 30 percent failure rate citywide. Police use undercover underagers for the buys.

St. Paul faces a $13.1 million budget gap for 2009, the PiPress’s Dave Orrick reports. Revenues have plunged $5.2 million and costs are up $7.7 million. Tax/fee hikes, service cuts, layoffs – everything’s on the table, Mayor Chris Coleman’s office states. The city had a $17 million gap last year, which led to a 15.1 percent property tax hike. Because business property values are rising, higher property taxes “won’t hit residents as hard as in years past.”

Also not good: St. Paul schools face a $10 million shortfall, the PiPress’s Doug Belden notes. After reserves are tapped, the district needs to make $7 million in cuts. Right now, that means $1.5 million less for district-wide academics. In all, fewer teachers and support staff, fewer programs and fewer school cops. A hearing is at 4:30 p.m. today.

Just in time for whatever spring we have: St. Paul should lower its outdoor-café standards, the Strib edit page argues. Now, liquor licensees must get signatures from 90 percent of property owners; too high, say editorialists. The piece blames hard-to-find rental property owners. The plan would let those with 60 to 90 percent approval to get a license limiting hours or “other measures to address traffic, noise or access issues.”

While we’re in the east metro: A Ramsey County Charter commission decided to keep the sheriff’s post elected. A measure that would create a ballot initiative to make the post appointed failed on a tie vote, Orrick reports.

The city of Minneapolis will spend $309,000 to buy 8.5 acres of undeveloped land
on the far-northside Humboldt Greenway, Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard reports. The story’s headline calls it a “bailout” of housing developer Ross Fefercorn, who faces foreclosure there. Fefercorn still owes Hennepin County $1.1 million. There’s substantial public investment in the greenway; the county spent $28 million on a wider area, and the city issued another $6 million in bonds.

Mass transit wins again: Lakeville will get its first bus stations, and a 35W high-occupancy vehicle lane extension from Burnsville. The city council unanimously went for more mass transit, the Strib’s Sarah Lemagie writes. Some businesses had complained. Lakeville homeowners will shell out about $36 a year.

The state Senate narrowly passed a plan to slow foreclosures
, but Gov. Pawlenty’s opposition dooms it. The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba reports that the bill would let 12,000 homeowners defer foreclosure on their subprime or negative-amortization mortgage as long as they work with a foreclosure-prevention agency and make partial payments. Opponents say it unconstitutionally messes with contracts, and lenders would raise rates on everyone to make up for the higher costs.

The state House passed an unlikely-to-become-law property tax plan. Homeowners who make under $100,000 would get bigger property tax credits; size depends on the amount of taxes paid. Meanwhile, high-income, low-property-tax folks would pay more. The Strib’s Patricia Lopez says the administration calculates that one-third of homeowners would reap an average $330 benefit in ’09, while 37 percent would lose an average of $220. The 80-53 margin isn’t veto-proof.

A Ham Lake mayor got a standing ovation for apologizing for an alleged racial slur, the Strib’s Paul Levy reports. Of his lonely opposition to a sewer system, Mayor Paul Meunier had said, “I feel like a black person in a room full of white people.” Unfortunately, he’s white. What strikes some as impolitic empathy became fodder for “conservative” opponents in a place that I’m betting is pretty white, too. Menuier got the standing O at council meeting from supporters.

MPR has an interesting piece on a pilot project to use sugar beets peelings to generate methane. The beets must be peeled before commercial use, but using these existing leftovers could reduce land diverted to ethanol, Dan Gunderson reports.

Remember that $1 million hangar blaze in Crystal a couple of weekends ago? The commercial-size truck that started it all shouldn’t have been in the space, according to the Strib’s Chao Xiong. Airports Commission rules say hangars are for planes, but there were 11 cars, two boats and household items in five stalls. There’s no real rule against this, but it’s “frowned upon” Xiong writes. Is this a sign of an underused airport?

Aww, fer cute: Minneapolis cops are unveiling three-wheeled scooters they’ll ride downtown, the Strib’s Paul Walsh writes. They cost 10 grand, hit 25 mph and run on 10 cents a day. Why not Segways? We’ll find out after a 1 p.m. unveiling. Click on the link for a pic.

The Strib’s decision to bring in Blackstone Group to restructure its finances “could mean anything from new loan terms to additional equity investors in the paper,” the Strib’s Chris Serres reports. Strib management won’t talk to him, but Serres writes the decision “indicates the newspaper is trying to deal with the financial ramifications of this decline head-on, before it becomes a full-blown crisis.”

Keeping its “smiley-faced” killer story going despite flack from local cops and the FBI, KSTP reports that Pennsylvania police discovered the ’70s icon near the scene of a young man’s disappearance. Although the smiley face is pretty darn common, KSTP says “police said they had never seen this kind of graffiti” in town before. The man had been drinking in a bar and disappeared in January.

Talker: KSTP also reports that someone stole 38 racing pigeons worth at least $15,000 from a St. Paul man. The victim says he’s been robbed several times before. In the what-took-you-so-long department, he’s now considering adding a security system.

Nort spews: It’s Willie Mays’ 77th birthday; the Twins celebrated with yet another off-day. Pat Reusse writes glowingly of Twins owners – and Minnesota taxpayers – the Pohlad family, comparing them to ex-Wild owner Bob Naegele, who took his publicly enhanced profits to income-tax-free Florida.

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