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Daily Glean: Green Giant to ethanol: ‘Ho, ho, no’

The PiPress’s Tom Webb reports that three local food giants have launched a nationwide anti-ethanol campaign. General Mills, Hormel and Land O’ Lakes are part of “Food Before Fuel,” to undo ethanol subsidies that encourage production “regardless of consequences to the food system.” One expert says ethanol plants can make money with $7 a bushel corn, but livestock farmers can’t. Big Food versus Broad Ag; the titanic battle quickens.

The federal highway trust fund will be $3.7 billion short next year, meaning Minnesota could lose 34 percent of its U.S. transportation grants, Finance & Commerce reports. The fund has been drained by high gas prices, which reduces demand and gas taxes, and expenses like the 35W bridge rebuild. MnDOT has identified 15 percent of “lower level” projects that could be delayed, which could slice 5,000 jobs. Congressional fixes are stalled.

A grisly double murder in south Minneapolis, of a mother and 10-year-son; the mom was “sliced from the mouth down through the neck,” a neighbor tells KSTP. The Strib’s Terry Collins says the victims’ friends believe the nursing student knew the killer, and enigmatically point to the survival of a toddler as a clue. Friends insist drugs weren’t involved. The police aren’t being specific but say neighbors shouldn’t be panicked. That often signals a crime of passion, or retribution.

In the PiPress Norm Coleman explains his vote against extending alternative-energy tax breaks — a story that local dailies barely mentioned. The bill didn’t provide Alternative Minimum income-tax relief, the senator says. If Norm’s explaining what was a throwaway mention in local stories, reporters might want to look further.

Ah, perspective. A judge criticized St. Olaf — and strongly rebuked the Attorney General’s office — for classical music station WCAL’s 2004 sale to MPR,writes Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller. But MPR’s story ignores any collegiate shortcomings for the positive: “Judge clears way for St. Olaf to use some WCAL donations.” MPR wasn’t party to the suit, and WCAL’s successor, the Current, isn’t in danger. Given the A.G. slapdown, why hasn’t either daily done the story?

MPR’s Brandt Williams reports on long lines for Section 8 rent-subsidy applications. Some people have been on the waiting list for a decade; this is the first time applications have been taken in five years. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority expects 15,000 applications; the authority has 4,600 vouchers and most are already in use.

Winona’s badly gusseted bridge will reopen to cars Saturday, the Strib’s Paul Walsh and Jim Foti note. No trailers, semis or — because of sidewalk replacement — bikes or pedestrians, MnDOT says. All told, 32 gusset plates will be fixed; a replacement bridge won’t happen until 2015.

As expected, Thursday’s appearance by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters was a Gov. Pawlenty photo op. Peters lauded local leaders’ “political courage” for funding a 35W anti-congestion plan; the feds will throw in another $133 million. (That grant has been announced over and over again, the PiPress’s Political Animal notes.) MPR’s Bob Collins says the much of the state component was in the transportation bill that legislators passed over Pawlenty’s veto. Who was really courageous here, he asks?

Crimey: A Hugo tornado victim was so mad at sheriffs enforcing an anti-looter perimeter, that he “charged his sport-utility vehicle through a checkpoint, trapping [an] officer in his open door and pulling her 30 feet,” the PiPress’s Shannon Prather recounts. Attorney Adam Heaton now faces one felony charge, plus a gross misdemeanor. Dude asserted his property rights — “tase me and I’ll sue you” — and blew off a requirement to display a windshield credential.

Minnesota is one of only 21 states to allow individual health plans to exclude pre-existing conditions for a year or longer, the PiPress’s Jeremy Olson reports. A national advocacy group is critical, and one DFL legislator says that allows plans to “discriminate among the sickest.” Seven percent of the state gets health insurance this way.

The Business Journal’s Sam Black writes that Super Target’s groceries have nabbed more than 10 percent of the local market, up from 2.4 percent five years ago. The big loser? Rainbow, down from 22.5 percent to 14.9 percent. Cub remains the leader, but slipped from 44.5 percent to 42.2 percent. Cub disputes the figures, which come from Wisconsin-based DJL Research. Low-price Aldi has 2.3 percent, while Lunds/Byerly’s ranks just ahead of Target.

The PiPress’s Opinionator applauds September’s planned Ron Paul rally at Williams Arena. “We’re not saying Paul is correct on the issues. But the two big parties distill so many issues and interests that the result can be bland and uninspiring. Paul’s brew may not be to your liking, but you have to admit it has a kick. And that kick could stimulate some serious discussion at the big-party conclaves. Welcome to the party, Ron Paul. Give ’em heck.”

Even though school just let out, the Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Scott Russell looks ahead, at KIPP, the high-profile, high-intensity charter program coming to Minneapolis this fall. KIPP kids — mostly blacks and Hispanics in poverty  — soar from the 40th to the 82nd percentile in math if they stick with the program. There’s some accusation of cherry-picking, but the Minneapolis School Board president is welcoming. The program will open near the Basilica.

Nort spews: Bad night for the home teams. Livan Hernandez looks cooked; Twins lose 12-2. And the Lynx lost their second in a row, 82-78 to Sacramento.

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