Daily Glean: In Hugo, the ‘Three Little Pigs’ factor

It feels a bit like blaming the victim, but WCCO’s Jason DeRusha asks: Were Hugo homes built well enough? The homes were less than 10 years old. A U expert questions roofs connected with nails metal hurricane ties, rather than metal hurricane ties nails; he says when roofs go, structures collapse. Foundation bolts may have been too small or badly installed. Great rooms facilitate suction. Then again, 1998’s St. Peter tornado destroyed lots of older homes.

Construction caveats. DeRusha also notes you can’t build your way around 165-mph winds; Minnesota only requires homes to survive a 90-mph gust for three seconds, the Strib says. The next trend: replacing Great Rooms with Safe Rooms; FEMA subsidizes the latter in Oklahoma. By the way, 2008 is already the deadliest tornado year in a decade, AP notes, though Joe Soucheray sensibly adds that development increases the chances someone will get hit.

More construction: MPR’s Tim Nelson does his best to depress nail-gun sales, quoting one study that says 80 percent of nails shot into plywood sheets hit nothing but air. I see flop-sweat erupting throughout the metro, though Nelson adds, “no one knows if that happened in Hugo.” Which begs another question: Who did build the Hugo homes, and shouldn’t someone talk to them? Also insurance actuaries, who calculate risk and could quantify added new-home risk.

The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba reports that a St. Thomas Law School dean cleared Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson of professional misconduct in a mortgage-fraud case, allowing her to fire her chief antagonist. Junior attorney Amy Lawler was fired for union organizing and whistleblowing, supporters contend; Swanson cited the report but didn’t specify other reasons. The AG appointed UST’s Thomas Mengler — but not the legislative auditor, who’s still looking at Swanson’s conduct.

The Strib’s Steve Brandt punches today’s hot button: granting bicyclists limited immunity from stop signs and red lights. Two legislators — OK, one is Phyllis Kahn — propose letting bicyclists proceed if no traffic is close, and turn right on red or left on a one-way without stopping. It’s modeled on an Idaho statute, and to this biker it makes perfect sense. However, there would be some incremental increase in accidents and bike-pedestrian crashes with fewer strictures, right?

For those still into internal combustion: Thieves siphoned 500 gallons of gas from a St. Paul station, KSTP reports. They cut an underground tank lock, then probably used an electrical pump to siphon $1,900 worth of gas, police say.

Rounding out our transportation segment, the PiPress’s Dave Orrick asks a good question: So what if the U opposes the Central Corridor light-rail alignment? Even though the school will be the only holdout on a key planning vote today, Washington-alignment backers say the feds could indeed throw up their hands and fund a less-contentious project elsewhere. The U says crunch time isn’t here; opponents say the U is rationalizing.

Finance & Commerce’s Burl Gilyard offers a nice roundup of “slow to take off” redevelopment around the new Twins ballpark. One project crashed amid the credit crunch; the condo bust hasn’t helped any. Mega-developer Hines had touted a 2,000-unit housing development; now it’s looking at a 350-unit apartment complex that might break ground in early ’09.

The Strib’s Liz Fedor says Sun Country Airlines execs will take a 10 percent pay cut. CEO Stan Gadek will get 15 percent less. The carrier lost $34 million last year on $234 million in revenue, but predicts smaller losses this year. Gadek has raised fares, slashed routes and expects the airline to survive. Sun Country used to pay most gate fees early in the year, but is now stretching out those payments.

Can a New Brighton tortilla-plant manufacturer make female Muslim workers wear pants and shirts instead of traditional clothing? That’s the religious-discrimination question before the federal Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission, writes the Strib’s Chris Serres. The company doesn’t explain its rationale for not accommodating the women; Muslim advocates say it’s not a safety issue, and the women offered to wear coats over their clothing.

City Pages’ Jeff Severns Guntzel rounds up “the 10 Most Powerful Minnesota Republicans.” GOP funders Robert Cummins and Bill Cooper make the list; GOP chair Ron Carey and blogger Michael Brodkorb don’t. Longtime advocates Mike Wigley, Chris Georgacas, Mitch Pearlstein and both Meekses — Jack and  Annette — are there. There aren’t a lot of up-and-comers, but list-making is all about such disputations.

By the way, CP debuts a rather cheeky James Lileks parody. The buzz.mn patriarch has seen it before, I bet, and this only opens the door to Kevin Hoffman parodies.

MPR’s wonderfully named Sea Stachura says the new Farm Bill doesn’t fix a problem for local organic growers: if they rent even a small piece of a larger plot, all the land falls out of the farm program. That crimps land available for growing the ever-more-coveted organic veggies. There is more dough for organic research and certification reimbursement, though.

U students face a 7.5 percent tuition hike, and the Minnesota Daily’s Andrew Cummins writes that one professor questions the school’s fundamental philosophy. Said lab-medicine and pathology prof William Gleason: “Continuing on with this Orwellian ‘third-best public research university in the world’ business, in light of reality, is an embarrassment and only serves to make us look naïve and foolish.” His point: The U should ensure access, not status. Law school tuition is going up 9.5 percent, by the way.

Anyone who’s been to college will love this: One U bookstore will try renting textbooks next year. You’d pay 20 to 50 percent of the book price, instead of re-selling for 5 cents on the dollar. The Minnesota Daily’s Clarise Tushie-Lessard writes that profs have to commit to using the same book for several semesters, but one advocate says it works in Wisconsin. Minnesota’s pioneer: the Student Bookstore in the Dinkydome.

Nort spews: Joe Nathan blew his first save of the year by giving up an inside-the-park homer facilitated by Delmon Young’s fielding gamble. Still, the Twins still beat K.C. 4-3 in 12 innings. Blame Gardy for letting a crusin’ Nick Blackburn go for the complete game; he faltered in the ninth, when Nathan should’ve started the inning. Sore Losers here and here. The Lynx are 2-0 after beating Houston 98-92.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by William Levin on 05/28/2008 - 01:40 pm.

    Bicyclists make downtown Minneapolis sidewalks unsafe for pedestrians. They also make streets unsafe for themselves, making it more difficult for careful and attentive drivers to drive safely. Encouragement of this type is not needed. Phyllis Kahn’s comment that “it’s how most people behave anyway” is something that parents won’t accept from high-school age children and is truly specious coming from an allegedly responsible adult legislator.

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