The Strib’s Jon Tevlin, always alert to scams in the pews, chronicles a Forest Lake man’s role in cheating his congregation, friends and neighbors out of an incredible $30 million. Neulan Midkiff, a Shiloh Family Church apostle, got suckers to invest in “one of the country’s largest pyramid schemes.” Another guy was at the top, so Midkiff claims he’s naive. Tell me more: Midkiff’s wife was the temple’s “Prophetess of the Feast.”
A day after a state official dinged Barack Obama’s give-and-go-to-Denver contest as an illegal lottery, the Obama campaign modified the contest. Now, you don’t have to pay to win, and all is cool, the Strib’s Randy Furst writes.
But wait — there’s more! While state officials fisk Obama, Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer astutely notes John McCain is doing the same thing — but state officials didn’t bark. The GOP campaign offered donors a seat on the Straight Talk Express, even calling it a contest. I’m hoping to see what the state, and major media, think about this.
The U decided to fine, not fire, the double-dipping pair of profs who allegedly bilked Georgia Tech, the Strib’s Jeff Shelman reports. The U is still investigating Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko, but they’re relieved of administrative duties, and presumably the resulting salary bumps, for a few extra months. They’ll still teach.
Minnesota counties may sue to force more state public defender spending, the PiPress’s Brady Gervais reports. The state sliced public-defender budgets, forcing the legal bill for child-protection cases downhill. The counties first want a legislative commission to declare an emergency, which might force state spending. They could also ask judges to order the payments.
Norm Coleman scores a nice front-page Strib hit for spearheading an investigation showing suppliers billed Medicare using dead doctors’ IDs. Kevin Diaz writes that the investigation estimates 274 Minnesota doc names were used improperly, and the state lost as much as $455,000 from 1992 to 2002. (The investigation actually turned up 11 Minnesota cases, and extrapolated from a survey.) Nationally, Medicare losses are estimated at almost $100 million.
Not reassuring: Structural failure, not a bird, probably collapsed an NWA flight’s nosecone, the PiPress’ John Welbes writes. Work was done on that plane section 23 years ago, and Florida birds don’t usually fly at 18,000 feet.
The Stillwater Lift Bridge will remain closed to heavy trucks after a crash Monday. The Strib’s Kevin Giles and Tim Harlow say Stillwater has tried to ban trucks there, and applauds an errant driver doing what legislators wouldn’t. The PiPress’s Mary Divine writes that repairs begin within a month and will close the bridge during the day. The ban remains until engineers determine the bridge’s strength. How do we know it’s sturdy enough for cars and light trucks?
The state intervened to raise property-tax assessments for two Minneapolis neighborhoods, and city officials are upset. The Strib’s Steve Brandt says 20,000 folks in the U and Nokomis neighborhoods will pay about $100 more a year. State officials admit their formula, which equalizes assessments among jurisdictions, is flawed, but everyone must be screwed equally. City assessors say it doesn’t account well for current market drops.
Finance & Commerce’s Kendall Anderson has a nice piece on how cheaply St. Paul leaders are selling short-term office space near the GOP National Convention. You can rent 3,200 square feet of U.S. Bank Center space for $500 a month maximum, and they may throw in a billboard. The dealing makes for a good read.
The PiPress editorial page recommends that St. Paul not forbid sober houses within 330 feet of each other. That’s because restricting group living for people trying to stay clean probably violates fair housing laws for the disabled. Instead, the editorial says the city should stiffen parking requirements and, for the first time, define what a sober house is. An anti-regulation argument is here.
Downtown Journal’s Michelle Bruch notes Minneapolis officials may restrict new-ballpark gawking from nearby skyways. The city is worried “bad guys” can espy construction details. Also, the crush of viewers means a crush of coffee-cart vendors, strip-club hawkers, musicians and beggars who get in the way of commuters. (Hat tip: Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller.)
If you drive through Bloomington, Maple Grove, Minnetonka or Plymouth this week, beware “unprecedented” speed traps, KSTP reports. There will be 100 squads watching out beginning today. By the way, 35W will be closed both ways between I-94 and Crosstown from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
Someone’s gotta make money off the coming nuclear-power boom, and Eden Prairie’s Alliant Techsystems is the one to do it. The Strib’s Dee DePass says Alliant will soon open a West Virginia centrifuge factory that will bring down the cost of purifying the radioactive fuel. It uses 5 percent of the current process’s electricity. In 2004, there were zero new-plant license requests; the feds expect 34 reactor bids by 2010.
Struggling Brooklyn Park-based leather retailer Wilsons will change its corporate name to PreVu Inc., the PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah writes. The company also sold its outlet store and e-commerce operations for $22 million, but they’ll still be labeled Wilson’s. The shrinking company badly needs capital to avoid bankruptcy.
It’s an intense read, but the PiPress’s Emily Gurnon offers a detailed look at a local man’s attempt to seal criminal records 43 years after he killed an 8-year-old boy while doing 60 in a 35-mph zone. Mickey Nasseff says he can’t buy a shotgun, but the boy’s parents aren’t sympatehtic. They say they were never notified of the request, didn’t know the case was dismissed in 1969 (Nassef confessed and got probation), and a price still needs paying.
Survey-story time! Minneapolis tops the nation in percentage of married women in the workforce, AP reports. The reason: easier commutes, says the University of Chicago. It’s not perfectly clear from the piece, but the survey may have only looked at “non-Hispanic, white, married women with high school diplomas.” Locally, 79 percent of that segment works, compared with 67 percent nationally.
How Anoka dies: The Strib’s Paul Levy checks in with an interesting look at how county residents check out. Through June, deaths (614) are up 20 percent from a year ago, though that probably means nothing. Among last year’s 974 passings, Friday was the most fatal day. About a third of the departed required hospice care. There were 12 road deaths; four involved drinking. Meanwhile, there were 33 suicides and three homicides.
A 125-expert group unveiled a first-in-the-nation statewide natural resource plan Tuesday. The Strib’s Doug Smith says it speaks to “transportation, drainage, ethanol production, climate change, development and water usage,” but the bucks and political support are uncertain.
Nort spews: Twins lose a 6-5 heartbreaker to the Red Sox, as Boston scores four in the bottom of the eighth. Minnesota is two and a half back of Chicago, which also came back to win. By the way, the Twins are now 10-16 against the AL’s top teams.