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Daily Glean: A $1 billion bioscience center, or a mirage?

Whoa — California developers want to build a $1 billion bioscience center near Rochester, MPR reports. Should we check our wallets? Gov. Pawlenty has met with the group; $1 million worth of sewer improvements are already allotted for the Pine Island area. Another $50 million in highway improvements are mentioned. Healthy skeptics note the medical economy is slumping and smaller developments are struggling; plus, I can’t help thinking the hands will be poked further out.

Maria Carstarphen is playing cute about whether she wants to go to Austin, Texas, the PiPress’ Doug Belden reports. She won’t talk to the press until she’s formally named a finalist; so far, the news has only leaked. One St. Paul school board member says Carstarphen didn’t know she was on the short list; in comments to the Strib’s Emily Johns, the same member seems peeved Carstarphen would use the district as a steppingstone. Logs show the super hasn’t flown south recently. By the way, Austin’s district is about twice the size of St. Paul’s.

Election contest minute: The Coleman camp eschewed calling anything “fatal” yesterday, but fed reporters a list of counties that did and didn’t check witness signatures, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. They want properly excluded ballots to count because some were innocently counted (and commingled) on Election Day. AP’s Brian Bakst has some good details. Franken gets to try to add his favored votes to the pile today.

As much as I enjoy sanctimonious pols hoist on their own petard, what state Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller did yesterday was uncool — in part. He froze Senate hiring before pay-cut-happy Republicans could fill a chief-of-staff slot, the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury writes. Nyah-nyah. I love the idea of making a 5 percent pay cut voluntary though. Aren’t Republicans always advocating that people who want higher taxes should voluntarily pay? Let’s try it with cuts, too!

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will propose loosening rules on gay clerics, KARE’s Joe Fryar reports. Before, gay clergy had to be celibate; under the plan, they must be in committed, long-term monogamous relationships — and congregations can reject hiring them even if they meet the new standard. The plan will be considered at an ELCA convention in August. The proposal is here.

You want to complain to gay GOP legislator Paul Koering about his opposition to gay marriage? Whether your missive is reasoned or not, “I’ve already wasted too much time in responding to you,” emails Koering’s aide — even though he’s sending a blanket email, Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey reports. Despite the state-paid assistant’s brushoff, Koering does offer people his home phone number to chat personally. And, as the email notes in its saner moments, Koering is voting what he perceives as his district’s position.

Although the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently listed just one Minneapolis project on its “shovel-ready” list, the Strib’s Steve Brandt says the city has many ready to go. Bucks for bridges over the Midtown Greenway and in Camden, new traffic signal “brains,” and a sewer tunnel. But officials are more psyched about programs to prevent foreclosures and help the homeless.

Highly related: Salisbury notes $502 million in federal stimulus money will begin flowing here in May; the state will grab $345 million, localities another $155 million, while Metro Transit gets $65 million to plug an operating deficit and buy more efficient buses. City Pages’ Matt Snyders says amid fare hikes, homeless advocates are lobbying for discount bus passes.

But do we need all these roads? Minnesota drivers stayed off the road in December at twice national rates, the PiPress’ Leslie Brooks Suzukamo writes. The 3.3 percent plunge — 148 million miles overall —was noteworthy despite falling gas prices. Blame layoffs and a crappy economy more than environmental consciousness.

Final stimulus: The Strib’s Norm Draper says Minnesota will get about $1.1 billion for education, roughly 8 percent of current spending. The one-time money is great but won’t fill a structural gap, notes a DFL legislator. A big chunk of the dough goes to costly special ed.

Even as the economy tanks, St. Thomas is rolling in the bucks. It’ll open $118 million worth of buildings; an athletics complex and a student center, the Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith reports. The 11,000-student Catholic university is on pace to raise half a billion dollars; it’s received $365 million so far. In the man-bites-god department, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick says neighborhood opposition is unlikely thanks to recent St. Thomas outreach.

Despite constituent approval, the Minneapolis Park Board has delayed plans to boost municipal wi-fi on city parkland for another two weeks, the Southwest Journal’s Cristof Traudes reports. However, in the comments, one Park Board member says the plan is moving forward despite poor communication from his side.

What’s a horologist? The PiPress’ David Hanners has the answer: a watch collector — in particular, one whom a pawnshop clerk had arrested for offering what turned out to be genuine collectibles. The aggrieved, a prominent Minneapolis lawyer, is suing to have his name cleared after being accused of repeatedly selling fakes.

Woodbury may ban home protests after animal-rights activists showed up at a 3M exec’s residence, the PiPress’ Bob Shaw writes. The move is apparently constitutional. The company is linked to an animal-testing lab. There have been five protests in the last year, but no trespassing.

This should be fun: Mounds View may try to municipally define morality, the Strib’s Allie Shah reports. Requiring “good moral character” is a way to keep out “massage” businesses engaging in prostitution; I thought catching people offering sex for money was the way you policed that. The town’s mayor is dubious in taking on character-monitoring.

A helicopter hangar filled with fire-suppression foam, from WCCO.

Via Max at Secrets of the City, a highly entertaining look at Grand Rapids’ obsession with Judy Garland and her purloined ruby slippers, from Minnesota Monthly’s Tim Gihring.

Nort spews: It was Loserville Thursday night as the lackluster Gophers men’s bucketeers fell at Michigan 74-62 and the Wild lost at home to Calgary 3-2 in OT. On a happier note, the Wolves traded diffident guard Rashad McCants to Sacramento for nothing special, but you can already feel the good karma flowing.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/20/2009 - 10:52 am.

    Brauer wrote: “Whether your missive is reasoned or not, “I’ve already wasted too much time in responding to you,” emails Koering’s aide”

    It says nothing of the sort. Regarding the missives he is responding to, Ken Swecker writes:

    “I personally believe that instead of sending e-mails full of threats and hateful words…”


    “I know very well that you will respond to this e-mail of mine with some probably quirky, snide, and very thoughtless comment that will make me out to be a bad person and threaten the Senator even more just as most of the absolutely tactless and disrespectful e-mails we’ve received have been written, but really, don’t waste your time. We’ll just put your e-mail where it belongs, in the trash.”

    If one has any doubts as how “reasoned” the correspondence Swecker is addressing is, have a look at the comments to Birkey’s story at MiniSoros Independent. It is crystal clear that if there happened to be someone that wrote a thoughtful response, it was completely lost in the hate filled, spittle flecked tsunami that the gay rights mob mounted.

    Once again, Mr. Brauer has filled in the blanks (so you don’t have to) with utter BS.

    It is little wonder that so many liberals make such fools of themselves when trying to argue their positions, when the sources of information they rely on are so often filled with half-truths, parsed facts and outright lies.

  2. Submitted by Paul Scott on 02/20/2009 - 11:00 am.

    I see that the proposed Rochester bioscience project could potentially employ 10,000 people. It sure is great transportation committee head Sen Steve Murphy (from Red Wing!) plans on running that high speed train through, wait.. its coming….Red Wing!

  3. Submitted by David Brauer on 02/20/2009 - 11:38 am.

    Tom, you forgot to mention the final paragraph of Swecker’s note:

    “I hope you do not believe that this e-mail was written specific to the one that you sent, this is a blanket e-mail, being sent to ***everyone who has e-mailed us on this issue*** and I’ve already wasted too much time in responding to you.”

    As always, it’s important to read to the end.

  4. Submitted by David Brauer on 02/20/2009 - 12:03 pm.

    Here’s an example of a “hateful, threatening” note that prompted the staffer’s mass nastygram:

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/20/2009 - 12:07 pm.

    And you evidently didn’t comprehend what you read:

    “It is crystal clear that if there happened to be someone that wrote a thoughtful response, it was completely lost in the hate filled, spittle flecked tsunami that the gay rights mob mounted.”

    There *were* no reasoned responses, or I’m sure that they would have been exempted.

    And I speak from direct, personal experience.

    In my ’02 bid for school board, I had the audacity to question the content of an advertisement Al Oertwig (he of library porn surfing infamy) had placed in “Lavender” magazine, and was placed on some national gay rights “hit-list” that filled my e-mail account with hundreds of threats and stomach turning transcripts of the types of delusions some of these people have. I was finally forced to change my telephone number after my wife was subjected to threats over the phone.

    I know *just* what manner of scumbag Swecker is dealing with.

    Gads, it occurs to me that Birkey twisted this story less than you did!

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/20/2009 - 12:31 pm.

    Re: Bioscience center. It would seem, from their reluctance to be identified, that this research center would not (as it should) be part of the University of Minnesota but would be operated by private corporations looking for profits in the development of new drugs or patentable genetic treatments or ????

    Why is it that every time Tim Pawlenty is involved in a big venture, it is to be carried out by out-of-state corporations or even foreign companies (like the French company building wind towers being made in southwestern Minnesota)?

    There may be some jobs involved, but profits go to far-away owners instead of being invested here.

    I say “No.”

  7. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 02/20/2009 - 01:04 pm.

    MinnPost and I scooped Suzikamo on the fewer miles drived story in my Feb. 5 Community Voices piece:

    “Even when gasoline prices go down, many Minnesotans continue to opt for clean-air solutions. Organizations such as the Automotive Association of America say that we continue to drive less than we did in the past. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, gasoline sales declined by 3 percent in 2008 compared with 2007. In the Twin Cities, Metro Transit bus ridership was up 6 percent. Statewide, E85 sales increased by nearly 5 percent, and prevented an estimated 89,548 tons of lifecycle carbon-dioxide emissions and other harmful pollutants from entering our air last year.”

    Interestingly, many experts agree the reason gasoline is less expensive today is the nationwide decline in demand, caused by fewer miles driven.

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