Remember the law firm hired by the Legislature to investigate the state’s I-35W bridge actions? Apparently, they’re trying to unravel what MnDOT knew about Ohio’s 1996 I-90 bridge-buckling. The Strib’s Tony Kennedy and Mike Kaszuba foreshadow the report’s release Tuesday. As in Minneapolis, the Ohio bridge was loaded with heavy equipment atop too-thin and corroded gusset plates. The feds issued no advisories, and MnDOT isn’t commenting about what they knew. (Disclaimer: My wife works for the law firm but did not work on the report.)
The Strib’s Susan Feyder terms the credit crunch a “considerable hurdle” to the Mall of America’s expansion plans, even with a generous state subsidy. Mall owners Triple Five Group must put up $300 million, compared with $50 million a year ago. Triple Five might need equity partners but has a bad track record with previous mall co-owners. The $2 billion project is expected to roll out over four years.
The Strib’s Pat Doyle wades into the Lori Swanson swamp with a profile of the Minnesota attorney general. She’s a determined champion for the vulnerable and a pain in the butt as a manager. Swanson did sit for an interview. She managed to file a foreclosure suit despite an outspoken subordinate’s complaints, she’s not worried that unions hate her (“I’m not here to make friends”) and she insists that lawyers answer citizen mail before lawyering.
Amid higher gas prices, the guv has decided to put his foot down over Central Corridor LRT. Without local property tax caps, it won’t happen, AP reports. Locals and DFLers hate the caps because they’re the only way around inadequate state support — well, short of cutting programs, Republicans observe. The PiPress notes that without the Central Corridor money this year, “backers say they are without a Plan B” to keep the federally subsidized line on track.
Now, a U student has been sexually assaulted in Middlebrook Hall. The Strib calls it a third area attack in three weeks, but by my math it’s been two weeks since the initial April 27 Pioneer Hall incident. A woman awoke to someone touching her at 3:15 a.m. Sunday. She couldn’t give a description, and her roommate didn’t wake up. Her door was unlocked. Police can only scan dorm video for someone “grossly out of place,” the PiPress says.
When journalists hype other journalists’ speculation: The Strib front-pages the Washington Post’s anointment of Tim Pawlenty as John McCain’s top vice-presidential choice. To political junkies, this is old news — it seems like the Post’s Chris Cillizza has been flogging this ranking for weeks in his The Fix column. But I guess the Strib is a general-interest paper, and it’s a Monday. Just a few days ago, Cillizza admitted he’d persistently left off the man who’s now No. 3 on the list, Rob Portman. We have several more months for this parlor game.
KSTP investigative reporter Bob McNaney discovers 36 incidents of duplicate info on state-issued ID cards in a single town, Worthington. The cards have the same name, address and date of birth — but different photos. Why doesn’t the state cross-check such info before issuing? On camera, a state public safety spokesperson does the deer-in-headlights thing. Unintentional comedy: Worthington’s Anglo mayor saying he doesn’t know any of the Hispanic names on the list. Shocking!
MPR has a neat story on a “fortuitous meeting between two doctors at a Twin Cities synagogue” that led to the removal of an Ethiopian woman’s massive, disfiguring tumor. Merdya Abdisa’s eyeball rested on the tip of a tumor that came out her eye socket. At a local synagogue, an Ethiopia-based doctor on a fundraising trip ran into a local surgeon who heads a renowned aneurysm center; he assembled a team to successfully remove the growth that would’ve otherwise killed Abdisa.
St. Paul may shrink-wrap its skyways with ads for the GOP convention, the PiPress’s Jason Hoppin reports. They could look like MTC buses (but with the ads facing the passengers). However, “downtown neighbors are on board with the idea,” Hoppin notes. The temporary ads would help pay for an amenity that would linger after Republicans leave: kiosks that guide people through the labyrinthine system.
The Strib’s Katherine Kersten doesn’t like Minneapolis’s anti-bullying curriculum because it first teaches that gay families aren’t weird. We’re pretty sure that her distillation of the “Welcoming Schools” program — “drums into kids the idea that ‘traditional families’ are outdated” — is a bit tendentious. Parents can opt out of the program.
Congrats to Bill Holm, the state’s McKnight Distinguished Artist of the Year. The author/poet/musician and Southwest State English prof gets 50 grand for what the Strib calls his “deep imprint on the state’s cultural scene.” The PiPress notes the quintessential Minnesotaness of the award, which is “given to individuals who had opportunities to pursue their work elsewhere but chose to stay in Minnesota and contribute to the state’s cultural life.” MPR details Holm’s views on the state here.
Nort spews: After years of being a Twins killer, Craig Monroe is finally a Twins savior as his two dingers lift Minnesota over the BoSox 9-8. Sore Loser from Boston here and here.