Bad roads, goat sacrifices and music venues in jeopardy

What’s that line Bette Davis says in “All About Eve”? Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night? From the sound of things, MnDOT might consider this for a slogan. As the Star Tribune’s Jim Foti explains, The Minnesota Department of Transportation is looking at a $50 billion funding shortfall over the next 20 years.

That sounds bad, yes, and, put another way, it sounds worse: MnDOT has identified $65 billion or more in transportation needs throughout Minnesota, but, as far as they can tell, they only have $15 billion that they will be able to spend. So what can we expect? According to Foti: “some of the lanes we’re driving on now will get bumpier.” Brian Bakst of the Associated Press is even more specific: Road planners “expect the number of pavement miles deemed poor to jump from 600 miles now to 1,600 by 2018.”

Usually, when tales of goat sacrifice show up in the news, they are stories about practitioners of Caribbean religions and their unnerved neighbors (here’s a recent example from Texas). However, this is Minnesota, and Minnesota is home of all things Brett Favre at the moment. And so, when a goat showed up in a trunk of a car in Winona, with owners claiming it was bound for sacrifice, the animal was painted what seemed to be purple and gold and had the numeral four — Brett Favre’s number — shaved into its side, as Tad Vezner of the Pioneer Press explains. The intended offering, which can be seen in this photo on FOX’s site, was rescued by animal control, renamed Brett, and placed in foster care.

While we’re on the topic of animals, FOX9 informs us that a St. Paul Police officer is under investigation for feeding gorillas. Apparently, he was part of a group that Como Park security staff snuck in after hours last January, and he decided the animals might be peckish. Bad choice, as FOX9’s subhead tells us: “Zoo says Pop-Tarts are not part of their diet. The gorillas, named Schroeder, Gordy and Togo, may not even have eaten the toaster pastries, and are doing fine.

There are a few things that we expect from our State Fair. We expect food on a stick, we expect seed art, we expect to be able to endlessly refill glasses of milk for a small fee, we expect butter sculptures of girls’ heads, and we expect to shake hands with our politicians. Unfortunately, as KSTP reports, there won’t be very many of our elected representatives at the fair this year; specifically, “there will only be nine political booths at the fair — including one each for Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.” Oh well; we’ll always have the Old Mill.

The Associated Press takes a peek into Target’s lobbying efforts, which are considerable: The company spent $300,000 in the second quarter. Some of its spending is unsurprising, although a little disheartening if you’re an employee seeking to unionize, as Target has opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make unionizing easier. They have also lobbied in support of legislation meant to address organized crime, which is on the rise, which sound rather exciting if you’ve been reading too many tales about St. Paul’s bootlegger and gangter past. The reality is more quotidian: Retail crime, such as shoplifting, has started to get more organized, so don’t expect a Tommy-gun-brandishing Johnny Depp to go leaping over any counters at Target anytime soon.

If you’re applying for the Minnesota state health care insurance plan, be prepared for a wait: According to the Star Tribune’s Warren Wolfe, MinnesotaCare applications have increased by 25 percent this year, doubling the amount of time it takes to process an application. The story quotes Julia McCarthy, who works for a nonprofit agency that assists poor people in registering for health care: “We have clients whose applications aren’t approved for three months or longer,” McCarthy tells the Strib. “Since approval is not retroactive, they may be forced to wait a long time for needed health care, or to run up bills they can’t pay.”

If you’re like many Minnesotans, you probably have a half-dozen glass tumblers emblazoned with the Uptown Bar & Cafe logo — a memento of its popular bloody mary eyeopener. According to the Star Tribune’s Chris Riemenschneider, those tumblers are about to become collectibles, as there is a real possibility that the popular restaurant and music venue will close and be replaced by a three-story retail space. There is talk of relocating the bar, but, as Riemenschneider tells it, Uptown staffers found that discussion “iffy,” and “seemed shellshocked after Monday’s commission meeting.” One commenter on the Strib site sums up what will undoubtedly be a popular reaction to this news: “NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!” FOX9, in the meanwhile, adds another nail to the coffin by identifying the Uptown as a “hipster bar,” apparently unaware we are in the middle of a hipster backlash.

Similarly, the Myth Nightclub in Maplewood has fallen on hard times. Chris Haven and David Phelps from the Star Tribune detail the music venue’s troubles, which include more than $16 million owed to creditors and a foreclosure action. Despite having a potential buyer, Myth has shut its doors indefinitely, presumably leaving hundreds of Maplewood youths with full-sleeve tattoos staggering around, zombielike, with no idea where to go to rock and roll.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Sean Freising on 08/25/2009 - 10:30 am.

    I think you meant “Ye Old Mill,” not “the Old Mill.” This is the state fair we’re talking about! These things demand to be taken seriously!

  2. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 08/25/2009 - 10:31 am.

    Maybe we should come to the conclusion that building roads everywhere isn’t the best idea. Not only does it encourage more driving, it costs a lot. Same goes for road widening projects. It’s been well documented that removing roads and highways can be beneficial for traffic and quality of life. Maybe we should try some of that.

    And, who could have possibly seen an overpriced, overhyped nightclub in the suburbs closing. It’s unfathomable.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/25/2009 - 02:20 pm.

    And Tim Pawlenty casually drops 30,000 of our poorest, often both mentally ill and homeless, residents from state-provided care and expects MinnesotaCare to absorb them in addition to the thousands of persons newly (or oldly) unemployed and uninsured and those working part-time jobs with no employer-provided coverage.

    We desperately need to rise above the notion that “the market” will provide whatever society needs and that government is not competent to do so. Medicare and the VA prove government can do it right, as do the systems in most of the free world except ours.

    Single-payer, tax-supported universal health care (nationally via HR-676, in Minnesota via John Marty’s SF118/HF135) would make a million problems go away and save kazillions of dollars. The Minnesota Plan would, furthermore, keep health care money separate from any dollars a Pawlenty-style governor or legislature could use for purposes other than health care for all.

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