The BWCA Fire is, thankfully, moribund. According to state officials, “fire-behavior specialists expect minimal to no fire spread with a little creeping and smoldering over the entire fire area. With the combination of precipitation, bucket drops, and cooler temperatures, five or six days of drying are needed before fire activity would increase.” Of course, they were wrongly cocky when this started.
More fire: MPR’s Tom Robertson notes the fire is boosting Ely’s economy — fuel sales, outfitter revenues, etc. — though camper cancellations could wipe all that out eventually. Meanwhile, MPR’s Bob Collins calls this blog entry “the definitive BWCA Fire post.”
The Associated Press says Minnesota is one of nine states getting a beefed-up crackdown on wage violations. Targeted areas include violating minimum wage laws, not paying overtime pay and improperly classifying employees as freelancers. The state will share info with the feds, who can bring their own fines and penalties. The U.S. Labor Department netted $4 million for workers in 2010, which frankly doesn’t sound like a lot.
The grandmother of all mandates: MPR’s Tom Scheck reports senior housing CEOs are mad about a new state rule requiring seniors to get counseling before picking assisted living facilities and other senior housing. The goal is to reduce poor choices and thus state costs; one housing CEO complains the plan was never debated, just showed up in the end-of-session deal, and needs exemptions. The law takes effect Oct. 1 and does have opt-outs, which may be tweaked. By the way, Republicans, who control the Legislature, backed this one.
The PiPress continues its well-reported series on Worthington, Minn., and its Hispanic residents with a look at schools. Mila Koumpilova reports there are now more Hispanic kids in the system than Anglo non-Hispanics; 60 percent of students now qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and there is definitely an achievement gap. The six-year Latino graduation rate is 58 percent, 8 points above the state average and 21 points better than 2000. The district now teaches non-English-fluent students with ELL teachers in integrated classes, rather than separating them as in the past.
Remember “Troubled Waters,” the river pollution documentary the U clumsily spiked under pressure from the ag industry and then reinstated? Twin Cities Daily Planet does a nifty thing: Reporter Brian DeVore looks at how ag practices have changed in the year since the controversy. Minnesotans planted 5 percent more corn this year, and this summer’s fertilizer-fueled Gulf of Mexico dead zone is bigger than the five-year average. The USDA says more of the gunk is coming from us.
Plane noise hope: For my particular chunk of southwest Minneapolis, it’s a concern that’s receded. But Southwest Minneapolis Patch’s Makula Dunbar reports improvements are on the way. An airport-noise group says Delta’s year-end retirement of DC9-50 planes “should have a very noticeable decrease in noise.” The NextGen air-traffic-system upgrade should have planes landing from higher angles near the airport, which is good, even though the system won’t be fully improved until, gulp, 2025.
Your Michele Bachmann minute: The protection racket known as the Iowa Caucuses has GOP pastors demanding she ruin her shoes as she slogs through muddy farm fields one at a time, MPR’s Mark Zdechlik reports. That’s symbolic of a campaign that is too choreographed, Zdechlik notes, with perhaps some between-the-lines media frustration about covering such a campaign. Elsewhere, Bachmann said bullying of GLBT students is “not a federal issue” in response to a question about it going on in a district she represents. [Hat tip: City Pages.]
The Strib’s Steve Brandt reports that the many Minneapolis City Council members are getting a lot less in transportation reimbursements after a 2010 change requiring them to itemize. Council President Barb Johnson has received $651 so far this year; last year, she would have pocketed about three grand.
As Best Buy marks five consecutive quarters of earnings decline, they may dump once-ambitious plans for the U.K. market, the Daily Express reports. Quoting a “source close to the company,” the Express says “all possible options are on the table” — biz code for “yeah, we could sell or shutter this thing.” The site notes as recently as last year, Best Buy planned to open 200 stores but has only 11 so far. [Hat tip: Business Journal.]
You can all exhale: Target Center will still be called that — for the next three years, anyway, the Sports Business Journal reports. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s John Vomhoff Jr. says the Timberwolves wanted a 14-year deal but only got three, an indication that the building is about as sexy as Dick Cheney. SBJ implies the Wolves didn’t get more per year, either.
Also in sports biz: The St. Cloud Times opines, “Give Vikes an answer on stadium this fall.” The urgency seems to be the end of the season, which is also the end of the lease, even though the chances of the Vikings moving right now seem remote at best. Argue the editorialists: “Stadium-weary Minnesotans would appreciate such finality, as would voters and legislators who know this state has higher priorities to address. Most importantly, the soon-to-be-leaseless Vikings must have that answer, and soon.”
Nort spews: ESPN’s Scott Burnside checks out the Wild’s pre-season camp to see if they have a pulse. “In a place proudly known as the State of Hockey, the Wild have curiously become a kind of faceless entity,” he writes. Too soon to say if the new look is handsome or Frankensteinian. Also, ex-Timberwolf Christian Laettner is not going to jail, for now.
Glean creator David Brauer returns to fill in for vacationing Brian Lambert.