Politically, it may be easier than bucking the Indian tribes to expand gambling, but not by much. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib suggests Gov. Dayton is “open” to tapping the Legacy Fund for Vikings stadium money. “ ‘All options, as far as I am concerned, should be considered,’ said Dayton, who was unclear how seriously he was considering tapping the fund for the $1.1 billion stadium. Since Minnesotans passed the Legacy constitutional amendment three years ago, a state sales tax increase has been bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars for projects involving the outdoors, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage. The governor’s comments were enough to prompt one of the fund’s largest recipients, the Minnesota Historical Society, to urge people to object to legislators and Dayton. Using the money for a stadium is ‘contrary to both the intent of the voters and the language of the constitutional amendment,’ the society said, adding that the stadium debate ‘is moving quickly, so please take action as soon as you are able.’ “
The loyal opposition is also (sort of) on board with tapping the Legacy Fund. Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR writes: “Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said Thursday she would consider using money from the state’s Legacy Amendment for a Vikings stadium. ‘They’re certainly a part of our history and our heritage,’ Koch, R-Buffalo, told MPR’s Morning Edition. ‘That’s something that I’m sure we’ll be debating’. … Koch said she’s open to the Legacy proposal but has ruled out some ideas already. ‘At this point I’m not saying except for some sort of statewide tax, tax increases, or using money out of the general fund. Those are no’s for me. And I’d like to see a referendum in Ramsey County, but other than that, I’m trying to keep options and an open mind,’ she said.” Call me crazy, but I detect momentum.
So much for that wilderness-y thing, apparently. Candace Renalls of the Duluth News Tribune reports that Minnesotans want in-town size and amenities with their “up north” retreats. “When it comes to the cabin tradition in Minnesota and Wisconsin, probably no one knows more than Dale Mulfinger. The Minneapolis-based architect has spent two decades researching and teaching the subject and says small, seasonal cabins are a dying breed as they’re converted to year-round retreats or replaced with lake homes. ‘There’s been a significant switch in the last 20 years,’ he said. ‘People no longer consider life at the cabin to be that remote. It’s a place worthy for retirement. People want lake homes now, rather than cabins. And they want it to feel like their house, with attached garage and bedroom suites.’ But as the 1,800-square-foot, year-round retreat replaces the traditional 500- to 600-square-foot seasonal cabin, intimacy and community is easily lost.”
The Lutsen resort needs water, and it needs a permit to get it. Stephanie Hemphill at MPR reports: “A special permit could be issued to allow Lutsen Mountains Ski Hill to pump water from a nearby trout stream for snow making, despite very low river flow. The permit now under consideration by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources falls under a state law — brought to attention by Lutsen co-owner Charles Skinner — that authorizes the agency to issue a permit beyond what is normally allowed if there is ‘just cause.’ Lutsen has drawn water from the Poplar River, which runs through the ski property, to make snow since the mid-1960s. The company’s water use increased over the years, and by last winter Lutsen was taking nearly eight times more water as its permit allowed. The 2011 legislature granted Lutsen permission to take up to 150 million gallons of water from the Poplar River. However, the law prohibits the ski area from taking water if the stream reaches a minimal flow of 15 cubic-feet per second for five consecutive days. The river has been at that level for weeks.”
Among all the budget cuts in last summer’s deficit “solution,” the one mentioned here was one of the most counter-productive. Warren Wolfe of the Strib writes: “A Ramsey County judge Wednesday temporarily barred the state from cutting the pay of about 6,950 relatives who deliver personal care assistance to low-income Minnesotans. The 20-percent cut, which took effect Oct. 1, was one of dozens of budget trims approved by the Legislature in the final hours of a special session in July to erase a $5 billion deficit. State officials have estimated that the pay cut would save the state $24.1 million over the next two years. The state was sued by eight home care agencies that argued that the measure violates the Minnesota constitution and the federal Civil Rights Act because it discriminates against women, minorities and immigrants.”
The Twin Cities’ Somali community, already the largest in the U.S., continues to grow. The AP story, by Chris Williams, says: “The new estimate is based on American Community Surveys taken by the bureau from 2008-2010 and updates last year’s estimate of nearly 27,000 Somalis in the state. Because the estimates are derived from surveys, they include a margin of error, which means the census calculates the population could be as high as 36,000 or as low as 29,000. … The estimate includes both people born in Somalia and their descendants. Other states that have large Somali populations include Ohio with 12,300, Washington with 9,300 and California with 7,500, according to the latest estimates.”
Smoking is very hazardous to your health. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “An 87-year-old Richfield woman suffered fatal burns after lighting a cigarette while using her oxygen supply, police said Tuesday. Henrietta Tuma died Saturday of complications from ‘thermal injuries’ at her apartment in the Village Shores senior housing complex near 66th Street and Lyndale Avenue S., according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office.”
The deadline for re-opening University Avenue in St. Paul is getting real close. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “Business owners along University Avenue are not the only ones worried whether Central Corridor contractors will meet a key Nov. 30 construction deadline. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman gave Walsh Construction an earful early this month, when he and City Attorney Sara Grewing met with company officials to press them to pave unfinished portions of street and sidewalks, store track and reopen four traffic lanes on the three-mile stretch between Emerald Street and Hamline Avenue by the end of November. Before the meeting, Grewing informed Coleman of his legal options should Walsh fail to make streets passable to pedestrians, drivers and snowplows this winter. Pulling funding was more or less out: The city is not a major funder of the $957 million project and controls less than 1 percent of the purse strings.”
Consider the source, but Democratic-sponsored polling shows peril for at least a dozen freshman-Tea Party congresspeople, including Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy. A piece by Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo says: “The [Public Policy Polling] numbers show just 43% of the people in Duffy’s district would like to see him return to Capitol Hill for a second term, while 51% are ready for someone new. More than half (52%) have a negative view of Republicans in Congress. Only 39% have a positive one. Those are some of the better numbers for a Republican that PPP found in the polling it did for House Majority PAC. And those are not great numbers. Duffy, of course, has been a prime target for Democratic attack for months. House Majority PAC, as one example, recently blasted his district with ads attacking him for enjoying a plate of sushi now and again. But the full picture of the polling shows Duffy’s not the only one with a problem. ‘The national numbers point to the possibility for Democrats to reclaim a majority in the House next year, and a series of polls conducted by PPP in 12 individual Congressional districts last week backs up what the national numbers are showing,’ writes PPP’s Tom Jensen.” Maybe, but I’ll wait to see what Nate Silver says about this.