You’ll never guess who has the state’s lowest unemployment rate — Minneapolis! Explaining why is a great story waiting to be done. The Strib’s Bob von Sternberg says state unemployment is over 8 percent outside of the metro area, but the Mill City clocks in at 6.9 percent. Overall, the state rate stands at 7.6 percent.
Thanks to the deepcession, 2 percent fewer jerkwads are clogging traffic, which translates into a 5-8 percent drop in perceived congestion, the Strib’s Jim Foti reports. Buried is this nugget: beginning in December, Metro Transit has seen year-over-year usage decline. The economy again plays a part, but does this indicate the transit boom has crested?
Related: KSTP reminds riders of an extremely likely 50-cent transit fare hike ahead. No final decision has been made, and no date set.
Trainmageddon was avoided in St. Paul as the City Council delayed a vote on nixing Central Corridor LRT, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick writes. With the St. Paul Riverfront Corp. as a referee, PO’d council members and light-rail boosters will arm wrestle over a proposed Lowertown train shed for two weeks. Then the council will again decide on final “municipal consent” for the line.
U researchers have isolated some gunk that may block transmission of HIV, the Strib’s Maura Lerner reports. Although the vaginal gel has been barely tried on animals, it has the potential to protect women, especially in poor countries. Why? The chemical, known as GML, costs a penny a dose; it’s a germ-killer already found in ice cream. (Don’t get any ideas.) Counterintuitively, it blocks the body’s immune systems, which the AIDS virus hijacks. MPR’s Bob Collins has a good overview here.
Although Minnesota’s bragged up its healthy banks, U.S. Bank slashed its dividend 88 percent to hoard cash, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger writes. The bank has increased or kept even its dividend for four decades, but most sane people agree that preserving capital right now makes sense. With the feds contemplating strict capital-on-hand standards, every penny counts.
A business lays off 11 full-timers and eight part-timers and it’s big news. Why? Because it’s the Minneapolis Institute of Arts! The Strib’s Mary Abbe paints the 6 percent cut as a harbinger of wider whacking among the cultured set. The MIA canceled some exhibitions; its endowment has fallen 21 percent from a year ago. But admission will still be free, thanks to a little known city tax.
Related: The Strib’s Rohan Preston says Minnesota arts groups are drooling over the $50 million in stimulus bucks targeted to their trade. The $25,000-$50,000 grants are meant to reduce layoffs and increase programming. The Jungle Theater is shooting for 25 grand; other local orgs are sussing out the process. Minnesota should get more than its share, based on our ability to grab NEA grants.
Election contest minute: I’ll admit it; I’m numb. Norm’s still bleating about a do-over, Frankenistas say that would be extra-legal, the Strib’s Steve Sack hits the nail on the head, and MPR’s Mark Zdechlik notes the two sides have raised a combined $11 million for their death struggle. Contest junkies will enjoy this video of Uptake reporter and spurned absentee voter Noah Kunin on the witness stand, especially where he squares off with Coleman lawyer Joe Friedberg.
Dude who got burned up in a truck was likely mixed up in illegal stuff, authorities tell the Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada. Chaska businessman Daniel Juarez has a reported income of $24,000 but about 10 grand a month in credit card bills, three homes, and upkeep on a gal pal’s crash pad.
Following yesterday’s tale of snowboarders hurtling off cliffs onto train tracks, their Vermont employer declares them “not a bunch of punks,” the PiPress’ Mara Gottfried writes. Still, Burton Snowboard officials are not mad at the cops for writing out trespassing tickets. Click through to the story and you can see video of the crew lying to Minneapolis police earlier in the winter.
Want to listen to the first Mischke webcast? City Pages will provide an MP3 here, though it wasn’t up as of 8 this morning, but consider this a nudge. The show’s live from 2-4 p.m.
Nort spews: The Gopher men hoopsters beat Bucky Badger 51-46 to gain a fifth-place tie in the Big Ten. Given their mediocrity and low scoring, perhaps the Gophs are the Minnesota Wild of their conference. Sore Loser here. The Vikings didn’t re-sign an aging lineman who didn’t fit their scheme, but everyone freaks because his name is Matty Birk. Elissa Reinsma lost her opening match in the otherwise male state wrestling tourney.