The Timberwolves draft slippery USC guard O.J. Mayo — to universal cheers — and trade him for UCLA forward Kevin Love, to mixed reviews. The Rake’s Britt Robson really likes the deal, which is salary-cap favorable to Minnesota and includes Memphis sharpshooter Mike Miller. The PiPress’s Tom Powers goes medieval on Kevin McHale’s posterior. Sid Hartman admits “the media” were fooled; he means “me.” Sid dutifully gushed about Mayo online, then had to rewrite.
Thursday, the Supreme Court established an individual right to bear arms, but Minnesota’s gun restrictions shouldn’t change, AP’s Joshua Freed writes. That’s the view of a U law prof. The head of a Minnesota anti-gun group finds a silver lining: because a gun ban is now constitutionally prohibited, that eliminates the slippery-slope argument against limits such as gun-show background checks. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson supports the decision.
Riffing off a National Journal story, the PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger explores the close ties between U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and his campaign svengali, Jeff Larson. Coleman employed Larson’s wife; Larson rents his Capitol Hill basement — with 10-foot-square bedroom — to Coleman … who apparently doesn’t always pay his rent on time. Both men say there’s nothing improper; Larson isn’t a lobbyist and no taxpayer bucks are involved. The backscratching looks weird but the Journal finds no impropriety.
Day Two, Ford plant resurrection: the Strib’s Dee DePass quotes state economic development commissioner Dan McElroy saying that, even in the best case, the facility won’t stay open permanently. That’s according to a Ford official, McElroy says. One local expert says an extension wouldn’t cost billions like a plant retooling would, and the Ranger truck remains profitable.
Has it come to this? Some paved county roads are reverted to gravel, KARE’s John Croman reports. Four percent of county engineers have used this tactic to counteract funding shortfalls; 70 percent say road quality has declined in the past decade, according to a survey by progressive think tank Minnesota 2020. Ninety percent say higher funding from this year’s transportation bill isn’t enough; they want an indexed gas tax and wheelage tax, two things the Legislature couldn’t pass.
Yikes: “A decomposed body was found hanging from a tree in Brooklyn Center” on Thursday. KSTP’s Mark Albert says it may be that of a 41-year-old man who allegedly beat his wife to death with a hammer. Two teens found the body. More freak-beat crime news: A Hennepin County inmate allegedly bit another prisoner’s eyelid off during a fight last week, the Strib’s Abby Simons reports.
Sad, sad tale of a Somali “peacemaker” who was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center early Wednesday. Mohamed Jama was probably breaking up a fight outside a hotel where Somali basketball players were staying, the Strib’s Jim Adams writes. Jama coached basketball, was a homeless outreach worker and a mentor. Police believe there’s no link to drugs or gangs, but they haven’t found the shooter and need the public’s help.
St. Jude Medical has begun implanting brain pacemakers to treat severe depression. Kicking off a study, two men received the electronic stimulation devices in Chicago, the PiPress’s Christopher Snowbeck reports. Fascinating detail: Little Canada-based St. Jude apparently owns “intellectual property rights for the use of neurostimulation” to a specific brain part known as Brodmann Area 25.
I love this trend piece: Cafeterias are “buying more local produce, cooking entrees in smaller batches and switching to resuable kitchenware” to cut costs amid high food prices. The Strib’s Emma Carew looks at a Fairview hospital cafeteria as an example. It dropped tomatoes because they cost as much as the hamburger; lemon slices for tea are gone; Oriental chicken was nixed because of pricey mandarin oranges. Now you get Grilled Chicken Caesar salad. Relative nutrition? Unclear.
Both dailies prepare the public for Saturday’s 7:30 a.m. demolition of a 570-foot Xcel Energy smokestack in St. Paul. The 36-year-old structure’s collapse is a very visible sign of progress: The plant’s May switchover to natural gas has eliminated mercury emissions and cut sulfer dioxide and nitrogen oxide by more than 96 percent, the Strib’s Patrick Lee writes.
Although I’m sure you can write a “struggling nonprofits” story at any given time, MPR’s Tom Robertson focuses on high demand and shrinking resources for rural charities. State support is declining, counties have cut some support in half and private donations are falling dramatically. Meanwhile, demand at one food shelf is up 11 percent in the past six months and energy costs are climbing relentlessly. Satellite offices in far-flung rural regions are closing because of gas prices, and because volunteers are quitting to find paying work.
MPR’s Tim Post offers an in-depth look at a rural methane digester. It makes energy from cow poo — 200 cows produce the equivalent of nine barrels of oil a day. It’s hellaciously expensive — the digester costs half a million bucks — but virtually eliminates fecal odors and could be more economical for co-ops. The state’s first digester, now eight years old, produces enough power for 70 homes.
It’s a small thing, but a Twin Cities car received the Midwest’s first mass-produced plug-in battery. Twin Cities Business’s Christa Meland says Denny Hecker technicians put the Hymotion L5 battery in a Toyota Prius. (Reminder: stock Priuses are gas-electric hybrids; this one now is electric only.) The client: Hourcar, a local car-sharing service that’s growing fast.
The PiPress’s John Welbes says Northwest is canceling three international routes, including a Minneapolis-Paris route it started just 11 weeks ago. The airline is headed toward a 9.5 percent route cut by fall, when the Paris flights stop, but the route will resume next March.
GOP Convention roundup: The PiPress’s Jason Hoppin says California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will rent out the Guthrie Theater for a 1,000-person “Welcome to Hollywood” party. The Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada notes Twin Cities bar owners are spitting the bit over $2,500 permits to serve until 4 a.m., but “elite” spots will likely pony up. Amid all the protest-permit flak, St. Paul has approved 16 lottery-winning groups for actions at downtown parks, Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko reports.
Are you ready for a $1 billion Vikings stadium to move forward? The Business Journal’s Don Muret writes that the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission will issue stadium Requests for Proposals to contractors and architects in July. They want an architect and builder in place before legislative beseeching next January. Proponents argue that having construction ducks in a row could speed building and — even from a high height — reduce inflationary costs.
St. Paulites likely won’t get a chance to vote on instant runoff voting, despite a successful citizen petition drive. The Strib’s Chris Havens says six of seven city council members have signed such a resolution; they have the power to block the initiative. Lawmakers want to wait until a constitutional challenge to Minneapolis’s law has been settled. IRV lets voters rank choices and eliminates candidates from the bottom until someone gets a majority. (Disclosure: I worked for the Minneapolis initiative.)
Nort spews: Twins complete their third straight three-game sweep of National League clubs with a 4-3 win over San Diego; Justin Morneau’s bat was the key. San Diego Sore Loser here, with a fitting photo here. The world’s best women golfers defeat Interlachen; Pat Hurst and Ji Young Oh lead at 6 under. And the Minnesota Lynx moved to 8-6 with an 80-76 win over Sacramento.