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.
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.