Minneapolis taxpayers are out two million bucks because their department discriminates against five black officers. The Strib’s David Chanen and Terry Collins say Chief Tim Dolan — currently earning kudos for a crime drop — institutionalized the problem that led to the probable settlement. There’s only one black above the rank of lieutenant, and she’s a holdover from a past chief. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs allegedly were demoted, denied overtime and given unequal discipline and key appointments.
More settlement: In addition to the cash, the city must create a diversity/race unit overseen by a deputy chief. No one knows how the cash will be split among the officers, one of whom was transferred for insulting a superior; another was demoted but recently exonerated of federal charges. (He still faces department sanctions; I wonder how that will go down?)
St. Paul cops say they might be distracted by their low pay during the Republican National Convention, the PiPress’ Mara Gottfried notes. St. Paul has the metro area’s second-highest crime rate, but veteran cops are paid 25th-best. Minneapolis cops rank seventh. City officials say the union is exploiting the upcoming convention for a publicity grab, and things will be safe. The last contract expired Dec. 31, and the city is offering 3.25 percent annual raises.
Minneapolis police have already received more than 8,000 domestic-violence calls this year, KSTP’s Maggie Newland reports. Experts say 12 percent more women will seek protection from abuse this year, and blame the economy. Meanwhile, organizations that help victims face a tougher time keeping up financially. Delays are increasing for writing abuse orders and getting victims into alternative housing, raising the risk of further abuse.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says Brett Favre “clearly prefers to play for the Vikings,” even as NFL investigators descend on Winter Park. The Strib’s Judd Zulgad believes that investigators spoke to Vikings head coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell about inappropriate chats with the Packers’ property via a Cheesehead-issued cell phone. Sanctions against the Purple could come quickly, but Favre probably never will.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, back from Alaska, says we should drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it’s sometimes dark and usually snow-covered, the Strib’s Kevin Diaz reports. She makes an analogy to hungry children being kept from a pantry, but was asked if maybe those kids were overfed. They don’t see themselves that way, Bachmann replied. They never do! MPR’s Tim Pugmire references the consensus arguments against Bachmann, including Norm Coleman’s. KARE11’s John Croman also offers a deeper report.
Minnesota ranks 21st nationally in percent of income spent on gas, according to the National Resources Defense Council via the PiPress’ Richard Chin. That’s down three spots from a year earlier. One reason is that we’re a wealthier-than-average state, which would reduce our rank here.
The whip begins to come down: The Strib’s Liz Fedor reports that up to 400 Northwest Airlines jobs will fly south to Atlanta if the proposed merger is consummated. The positions are in NWA’s “Systems Operations Control,” which includes flight dispatchers and maintenance people, though elsewhere Fedor writes that company execs say flight dispatchers and meteorologists will retain their jobs. The jobs don’t depart until 2010 at the earliest.
The Star Tribune’s bankers are marketing the company’s debt because they’re so pessimistic about being paid back, Finance & Commerce’s Bob Geiger, Mark Anderson and Burl Gilyard report. The loans have been offered to locals, but slash-and-dash hedge funds are likelier buyers. Someone will get the paper at a hefty discount but, with sinking revenues, could still overpay. F&C’s Gilyard says the Strib’s land sale remains in flux, in part because of the paper’s debt crisis. A Vikings deal still seems most likely.
Designs for Minneapolis’ artsy, costly water fountains were revealed; you can get a look-see here. Mayor R.T. Rybak argues the $50,000 per has already been set aside for public art, and this is at least public art that quenches your thirst. WCCO’s Jason DeRusha, in his “Good Question” segment, asks whether public art is worth the money.
Meanwhile, people lined up for three blocks in South Minneapolis “for the promise of free food,” KARE’s Karla Hult reports. It’s one of the most depressing helicopter shots you’ll see. A local reverend is “flabbergasted” that several thousand people showed up. The Macedonia Baptist Church and Second Harvest will do it all again next month.
In another sign of the times, Edina Realty has unveiled a foreclosure-finder web tool, the Business Journal’s Carissa Wyant notes. Fox9’s Ellen Galles takes a longer look, noting how many investors only want such properties.
It shouldn’t shock anyone that school lunch prices are going up this fall; KSTP has a list of the hikes.
Profits at St. Paul-based Travelers Co. fell by about 25 percent as premiums fell and catastrophe payouts rose. AP reports that the company still beat analysts’ expectations, earning $1.50 a share and $942 million overall.
On the plus side, investors bid up UnitedHealth Group’s shares 10 percent, reasoning the worst is over for the troubled company, the PiPress’s Julie Forster notes.
A representative for a journalist-protection group dings Congresswoman Betty McCollum for praising Tunisia as a “voice of moderation,” even though it’s the “Arab world’s leading jailer of journalists” and a “police state.” The PiPress op-ed quotes McCollum’s chief of staff saying a recent Tunisian visit was about security, not human rights. But as a member of Congress’ “Tunisia Caucus,” McCollum should speak out more forcefully, Joel Campagna argues.
Even the Gov. Pawlenty-for-Veep chatter is quieting (partly because the guv now refuses to talk about it) City Pages’ Jonathan Kaminsky takes a closer look at 34 gubernatorial vetoes. Among the ones you didn’t know: preserving special benefits for FedEx, obfuscating cities’ ability to give to charities, letting hospitals use medical credit scores pre-treatment, and spiking a sick leave bill.
MPR’s Mark Zdechlik takes a longer look at Priscilla Lord Faris, the DFLer running against Al Franken.
City Pages’ Matt Snyders has an in-depth report on a union’s efforts to organize Starbucks, following Monday’s mediagenic walkout by Mall of America workers.
Officials found 687 dead cormorants and 37 dead pelicans at lakes in Fairbault and Meeker counties, KSTP’s Glen Barbour reports. Tests for avian flu were negative, but an expert is sure the cause was a disease. MinnPost recently dubbed fish-eating cormorants “the most hated bird in the world.”
I have a soft spot for time-capsule-unearthing stories, but early-20th-century residents of Stillwater did a lousy job burying one, the Strib’s Kevin Giles reports. The 1917 container was waterlogged and photos and historic documents were lost. The city did save some old medals and a miniature 48-star flag. Don’t bury capsules in monuments or building corners, an expert advises.
Another one that sucked me in: Fox9’s Dhomonique Ricks claims a local octogenarian has eaten lunch at Taco Bell, or its predecessor, Zantigos, for “close to 70 years.” Aside from that jaw-dropping (and gut-bombing) consistency, I have to ask: Was Zantigos really around in the late ’30s or early ’40s? Can’t find anything about its founding on the Internet. If you’re in the worldwide Glean audience and can confirm/deny, please, please leave a comment.
Nort spews: After yesterday’s 8-2 loss to the Yankees, it’s painfully apparent the Twins are not one of the four best teams in the A.L. And yet, they could still make the playoffs! Minnesota is a game-and-a-half out of first. The Lynx again fall below .500 with a 76-73 home loss to Seattle. As of right now, the young Minnesota squad is out of the playoffs — again.