The Minnesota Independent surveys major Republican National Convention donors to what Forbes calls “Lobbypalooza,” but only eight of 53 will tell them how much they gave. Topping the full-disclosure list: Qwest, with $6 million; Xcel has ponied up $1.1 million. Shockingly, Northwest Airlines says it can’t disclose its contribution due to “terms of our agreement with the RNC.” Such provisions should be illegal, and donation-disclosure mandatory; this is about influence. One unlikely donor: the lefty-leaning Service Employees International Union.
Via City Pages: Katherine Kersten continues to bash the local Arabic charter school TIZA, this time in the Wall Street Journal. There’s the same innuendo that Tim Pawlenty’s education department ruled no problem: halal cafeteria food; ritual washing, etc. Does she mention that the curriculum was judged completely free of religious influence? No! She also says the ed department ruled TIZA “is breaking the law” — the report actually said the two non-teaching violations could be problems, but didn’t rule definitively.
Seen elsewhere: The Detroit Free Press looks at airport-commission salaries at nine national airports; although MSP ranked sixth in size, our folks finished second in positions with salaries over $100,000. Atlanta, the nation’s busiest airport, has seven such execs; we have 49, even though we’re 13th-busiest. Others worth noting: Denver (fifth-busiest, 34 people over $100K), Philadelphia (10th, nine) and Detroit (11th, 46). Only Dallas — third-ranked, with 100 folks over $100,000 — beats us out. Something for local reporters to look into.
The Strib’s Susan Feyder says downtown Minneapolis could get another office tower … for Target. Aren’t they the ones opening up a massive Brooklyn Park campus? The recently sluggish retailer says it has no plans for more space, but its non-HQ City Center leases are up in 2013 and 2015, so they could switch to new digs, and order up a structure in 2009. No other tenant needs enough space to jump-start a tower. A major developer sees rents rising high enough to justify a new building early next decade.
Related: Whole Foods’ downtown Minneapolis project is delayed again, Feyder reports. Construction on the former Downtown Jaguar site was supposed to begin in April; now the developer hopes it’ll get going before year’s end. The project has changed a lot; originally a condo tower, now it’s all retail. Developers blame tight credit markets, but deny cancellation plans. Whole Foods says it’s still in.
MPR’s Sea Stachura looks at inspection intensity on the state’s various bridge-rebuilding projects. Tighter controls have cost taxpayers $45 million so far, but that’s the price of public reassurance, MnDOT engineers say. On the 35W reconstruction, every aspect is being inspected four times; three by the builders and one by MnDOT.
The Strib’s H.J. Cummins reports on gas-saving attempts by governments and businesses. At City Hall, Minneapolis has two HourCars — shared Priuses — so “the city can own fewer cars.” In a staggeringly smart move, the city locked in gas at $2.77 a gallon. Everyone is asking cops not to idle when they write tickets. State patrol folks are carpooling to meetings. On the private side, just-in-time manufacturing deliveries are giving way to bulk shipments.
Inner-city Catholic schools find themselves educating more kids who live in poverty or don’t speak English. And guess what. They might need more money to do it. The PiPress’s Paul Tosto quotes one expert saying parochial schools need more help, including building bridges to parents and using testing data to improve teaching. It costs one St. Paul Catholic school about $5,500 to educate a kid, but few parents can afford the $2,900 tuition.
The PiPress’s Jeremy Olson reports on how major Minnesota hospitals are projecting stroke-treatment expertise statewide. Stroke deaths in Minnesota have dropped 30 percent since 1996, largely because of a tricky-to-administer drug; places like Abbott Northwestern help rural hospitals negotiate the protocols. Methodist has a “telestroke” remote-adviser program; others have a high-speed patient-transportation network. Medicare reimbursement rates are so low that hospitals lose money doing this, but they’re expanding stroke networks anyway.
The PiPress has a charticle on county commissioner pay; Scott, Carver and Washington are at or below 50K; Anoka and Dakota at $64,000; Ramsey at $80,000; and Hennepin tops the list at $93,888. The hook? Ramsey County Commissioners will raise their pay 3 percent to $82,400 Tuesday.
An Oregon man won the Great American Think Off in New York Mills; he took the position that the nation’s immigration policy is broken and harming America, AP reports. You can read about the winner and his basic case here.
Gross: the top “story” on the Strib’s front page is about James Lileks’ new video blog. Get a room, Strib editors.
Nort spews: Twins lose 4-2 to the Brewers, but take two of three anyway; they get their only day off in a 41-day stretch today.