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‘There is no there there yet’ on Vikes stadium

Rancher loses lease over quarry opposition; Medtronics layoffs; rural HIV cases rise slightly; Senser jury still deliberating; a possible mobile meth lab; and more.

Everything you are about to read could change completely … by the time you reach the end of this paragraph. But for the moment, the GOP has put the roof back on their topless stadium idea and the governor, after calling the Republicans’ ideas “hare-brained,” is calmly listening, more or less. Tim Nelson’s MPR story says: “As Republican legislators were filling in some details on their last-minute plan for a do-over on a stadium, they said it may have to have a roof after all. But they stuck by their offer to pay for it out of the state’s general fund, which would include sales and income taxes. … the governor said he’d think about the GOP plan — after the Republicans conceded it might have to have a roof, making it ready to host amateur sports and other events. ‘We’ve made it very clear,’ Dayton said. ‘It has to be vetted by our experts, by Ted Mondale and by his consultants, and by the House and Senate DFL as well as the Vikings. So there’s a long way to go with this and not much time.’ But House Minority Leader Paul Thissen suggested that it may be too late. ‘I mean, the bottom line is there is no there there yet,’ said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.”

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert says: “Dayton and Democratic leaders said that was a surprising reversal from Republicans who have insisted for months that general taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the stadium bill. By using bonds, Republicans would set a higher bar for the number of votes needed to pass a stadium plan. While the original plan would require only a simple majority in the House and Senate, bonding bills require supermajorities. Under the original bill, the Vikings were to contribute $427 million; the new proposal leaves their contribution unspecified but continues to reserve for the team revenues from naming rights and ticket fees. … Republican leaders insist they pursued the last-minute change because the original plan lacked votes to pass the Legislature. But Dayton and the Legislature’s Democratic leaders were skeptical of that claim and continued to press GOP leaders to allow floor votes on the original proposal.”

Oh, and the Strib editorial page is not pleased with these GOP antics, either: “This is a diversion from usual lawmaking procedures that stadium backers do not welcome, and for good reason. A fully vetted bill with bipartisan sponsorship — the product of many months of painstaking negotiations and backed by key stakeholders — sits ready for a vote on the House and Senate floors. The emergence of a new funding concept appears to represent a tacit admission that GOP leaders cannot or will not find enough votes to pass that bill. If that’s unalterably so, the new GOP idea must be considered with both thoroughness and speed. It’s very late in the lawmaking season to upend a major bill and replace it with an idea as freshly concocted and poorly understood as the one Republicans propose.” Did you catch that phrase “fully vetted”?

Thanks to Sally Jo Sorensen of the Bluestem Prairie blog for the tip on this one, from Tom Cherveny of Willmar’s West Central Tribune: “A rancher who voiced opposition to plans by the Strata Corporation to develop a quarry in Big Stone County will not have the lease renewed for the land where he grazes his cattle. Clark Mastel said he was informed Friday that his lease on a 478-acre property will not be renewed on June 1 after he refused to sign a letter presented to him by the company. Strata Corporation of Grand Forks, N.D., intends to develop a quarry on a portion of the site. The letter he was asked to sign states that he made a ‘serious mistake’ by opposing the project and that he withdraws his opposition. It also states that the company offered to work with him so that he could continue to graze the land he rents and that he apologizes for any problems he may have caused. Mastel said he told Strata project manager Bill LaFond that he could not change what he said or how he feels about the proposed quarry. He also said the company never contacted him or offered to work with him.”
Medtronic is laying off 220 people in one division. At the +MassDevice site, for medical devices, its says: “Medical device giant Medtronic … confirmed that it will cut jobs from its cardiac rhythm disease management business. … The industry has faced a prolonged CRM slump, with top-tier device makers posting sluggish or negative growth in the market. In Medtronic’s most recent earnings report, released in February, the company posted a 9.4% decrease in global CRM sales and 5% decrease in U.S. sales when compared with the same period last year, including for pacing systems, defibrillators and atrial fibrillation devices. Other big players in the CRM market have seen a slide as well. Boston Scientific’s … reported a 10% decline in its CRM sales during its 1st quarter, and rival St. Jude Medical … noted a 4% slide in its CRM sales during the 3 months ended March 31.”

Cases of HIV are down in Minnesota overall, but up slightly in rural areas. At the Mankato Free Press, Robb Murray writes: “HIV cases in Minnesota are down 12 percent statewide, the state Department of Health said this week, but cases in outstate Minnesota are up slightly. The Rural AIDS Action Network says it is dealing with more people with HIV and AIDS. The network said it worked with 301 people living with HIV or AIDS in 2011 and just 286 in 2010. The agency offers free and confidential testing at many locations across Minnesota. In south-central Minnesota, however, only a handful of counties reported new cases in 2011. … Also, of the 292 confirmed new cases, 41 of them (or 14 percent) live outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Male-to-male sex, the health department says, was the main risk factor in half of the 41 new cases.”

After two days and no verdict in the Amy Senser trial, David Hanners at the PiPress writes: “The jury deciding Amy Senser’s fate is a diverse group. The panel of seven men and five women includes blue-collar, white-collar, retirees, young and old. One fellow, a relatively young man who works in an auto body shop, usually showed up in jeans and a T-shirt; one day his shirt had graphics showing a skeleton hand in the shape of a grenade. … Hennepin County District Judge Daniel Mabley and the lawyers also asked them if there were any reasons why they couldn’t be on the jury. One juror rose his hand and said he had a vacation scheduled in June. ‘If it gets that far, I’ll probably just shoot myself,’ Mabley replied. He looked around the courtroom and added, ‘I probably shouldn’t have said that publicly.’ The names of the jurors haven’t been released, and the judge’s law clerk initially said there was no plan to do so after they’d reached a verdict.”

When does  “Breaking Bad” start its new season? Mara Gottfried of the PiPress reports: “St. Paul police arrested two men in an SUV that officers suspect was a mobile meth lab. Officers were called to the Dayton’s Bluff area about 7 p.m. Tuesday … The caller reported a suspicious vehicle — it was parked behind a vacant house, out of sight, in the 800 block of Wilson Avenue, said Sgt. Paul Paulos, police spokesman. Police found a GMC Jimmy with two men inside. … The driver had exited the vehicle, and police asked the passenger to step out. When he did, they saw the grip of what appeared to be a handgun poking out from under the front passenger seat, Paulos said. Police handcuffed the men. Police found a BB gun under the seat. In the back seat, they discovered backpacks, several chemical bottles, a butane torch, measuring spoons and other items, Paulos said. They didn’t find methamphetamine, but they believed it could be a mobile meth lab because the chemicals in the bottles could be used to make the drug, Paulos said.” “Better call Saul!”

Another day, another Whole Foods store … this one right next to Trader Joe’s. Ed Stych of the Business Journal reports: “Whole Foods Market Inc.    made it official Wednesday, announcing it will open its sixth Twin Cities location at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported in March that the Texas-based grocer wanted to open a store in the 34,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Ultimate Electronics. … Whole Foods said it will add 125 jobs to the Twin Cities when the store opens in mid-2013. Whole Foods has four stores in the Twin Cities, with its Edina location opening last month. It’s other stores are in Minnetonka, St. Paul, and by Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, on the border of St. Louis Park. The company is building its fifth location in downtown Minneapolis.” I’m saving up for a bottle of blood orange juice.                                           

They better have something to back this one up or the irony alone will do them in. Bloomberg’s story, by Andrew Harris, says: “An Accretive Health Inc. … lawyer accused Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson of negotiating in bad faith before suing the company in January and of disclosing its confidential data in an April 24 report. Accretive shares fell nearly 42 percent one day after Swanson issued her six-part report critical of the Chicago-based company’s collections practices. Her federal lawsuit accused Accretive of breaching patient privacy laws. … [Attorney Andrew B.] Clubok said his client rejected Swanson’s insinuation that it was an ‘uber debt collector,’ using a German word that translates to ‘super,’ when individual collections comprise less than 10 percent of Accretive’s business. Benjamin Wogsland, a spokesman for Swanson, said in a statement that the attorney general’s report …  is “accurate and documented by the facts.” … ‘There is an old saying among lawyers,’ Wogsland said, ‘If the facts aren’t on your side, talk about the law. If the law’s not on your side, talk about the facts. And if you don’t have either on your side, pound the table and blame someone else. That’s what’s going on here.’ ”