It used to be you’d have to have a couple of million barrels of oil underneath to get these prices. Matt Sepic of MPR says: “A parcel of farmland in southeastern Minnesota today sold for more than $14,000 an acre, a record for Winona County and near the all-time high for the state. The 27-acre parcel near I-90 was sold at auction along with four other parcels from the same estate. Minnesota’s record farmland price of $15,000 an acre was set in Hennepin County in 2003, according to a University of Minnesota database. The land’s proximity to the freeway was probably a factor in the high bid because the farmland could be put to another use, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank regional economist Joe Mahon said.”
Everything has its fans. Mary Jane Smetanka of the Strib writes: “Frustrated that Bloomington’s Old Cedar Avenue bridge has languished for years, a state legislator from the city is moving to jumpstart the bridge’s reuse as a recreation trail link. At the invitation of Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, Gov. Mark Dayton will visit the bridge on Saturday during an informal rally at 11 a.m. … Lenczewski, who secured bonding money for the bridge in the past, intends to seek additional state funding next year. ‘I, along with hundreds and thousands of residents, are committed to having this great recreational resource move forward,’ she said. Bikers and hikers see the decaying 1920 steel bridge as a crucial link between the growing number of trails in Hennepin and Dakota counties. The bridge closed to vehicle traffic in 1993 and to pedestrians and bicyclists in 2002.”
Pro hockey … it’s an invaluable economic engine for downtown St. Paul … or maybe not. Curtis Gilbert’s MPR story says: “Mayor Chris Coleman worries labor strife within the National Hockey League could damage St. Paul’s economy. But a closer look at the math casts doubt on the city’s claims about the economic impact of the Minnesota Wild, which has already seen two preseason home games canceled because of a contract dispute between its league and its players’ union. St. Paul says the last NHL lockout in 2004 sucked $60 million out of its economy, because the league ultimately cancelled the entire season. The city arrived at that number by comparing the sales tax revenue it received during two past hockey seasons. Over the course of the season that would have started in October 2004, St. Paul pulled in $8.4 million in sales tax. The next season, hockey was back on at the Xcel Energy Center, and the city booked $8.7 million in sales tax. Because the city’s sales tax is .5 percent, $300,000 in lost tax revenue equals $60 million in lost sales. The problem with St. Paul’s reasoning is that it looks at only two years of data. When you examine the last fifteen years of hockey season sales tax revenue, it’s hard to see the impact of the ’04-’05 lockout.”
I know I’m feeling safer now. The Strib’s Abby Simons says: “A Hennepin County jury Thursday found a Stearns County farmer not guilty of violating the state’s food safety laws when he distributed raw milk from an Amish farm to Twin Cities customers. Alvin Schlangen of Freeport was charged with three misdemeanor counts, including selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license and handling adulterated or misbranded food. … Schlangen, an organic egg farmer, doesn’t produce milk himself but operates a private club called Freedom Farms Co-op with roughly 130 members who buy various farm products, including raw milk. Schlangen picks up milk products from an Amish farm and delivers them to members who lease the cows.”
Here’s a twist on your average sexual harasser boss. David Hanners in the PiPress writes: “Two bartenders at the ritzy Hilton Minneapolis claim a supervisor boasted of having sex with customers, made sexual advances to them on the job and retaliated when they spurned her. The manager ‘openly bragged about her goal of making ‘The 50 States Club,’ which entailed having sex with residents of every state in the nation,’ the bartenders claim in a sex-discrimination suit. Three former employees sued the same hotel in 2008 after they claimed they discovered members of the hotel’s top management engaging in an orgy in a banquet room. … The lawsuit says [Paul] Welter went to work for Hilton in 2007 and [Joshua] Brehmer began working there two years later. They claim that [Danielle] Rodgers — who held the title ‘Director of Outlets’ — ‘engaged in inappropriate, offensive and unwelcome sexual commentary’ … The suit says Rodgers now works at the Hotel Minneapolis.” And watch bookings go through the roof over there.
The state’s motorcycle death toll has hit 47 … and its only mid-September. Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “Minnesota is seeing a surge in motorcycle deaths this year — including five riders killed in the past seven days. The most recent fatality occurred Wednesday at about 8:30 p.m., when a motorcyclist hit a slow-moving farm tractor on southbound Hwy. 10, about half-way between Sauk Rapids and Rice, according to the State Patrol. John R. Mihlbauer, 45, of St. Cloud, died at the scene. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. Mihlbauer was the eighth motorcycle rider to die this month and the 47th to die this year. With more than three months left in 2012, the number of fatalities this year already has surpassed the 42 fatalities for all of last year. August was the deadliest month, when 10 riders were killed.”
The fraud desk is working overtime. In the latest, Dan Browning of the Strib says: “Calling him ‘a working fool,’ a federal judge sentenced Minneapolis warehouse and trucking company owner George Wintz Jr. on Thursday to 3 1/2 years in prison for bank fraud and embezzlement schemes he used to try to save his business. Wintz, 73, of Minneapolis, looked stunned as he walked silently by a gallery filled with his employees and left the courtroom. His attorney, Andrew Luger, had argued for an alternative sentence that would have allowed him to avoid prison and continue growing his business, which is thriving again.
John Hugh Gilmore at Minnesota Conservatives unsheathes his sword to jab at Gov. Mark Dayton. He says: “Minnesota’s misfortune is to have had Mark Dayton insist that his destiny lay in such oppressive public service on our behalf. First he acted out on the national stage as a senator and failed as only such a hot house creature could. After his single term of absolutely no consequence (hint: that’s called waste) some of us had hoped he’d do the ‘I want my own vineyard’ bored wealthy thing or perhaps gotten involved in artisanal chocolate production. For those who[se] main goal in life because of wealth is not to feel irrelevant, the possibilities were endless. … Last week [at the U of M] the Governor, sounding like a vaguely fascist mandarin, simply insisted without any intellectual depth or sustained engagement that taxes must increase because of his perceived need of all that government must do. … this was a lecture grandly titled: ‘Minnesota’s Future: Challenges and Opportunities’ given to the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows (there’s more intellectual diversity among supporters of Ron Paul by orders of magnitude; the Fellows are the stuff of David Mamet’s nightmares). This was a liberal/progressive/left confab with Little Lord Fauntleroy in attendance.” The Lord Fauntleroy thing is a too-easy cliche, but otherwise … kind of funny.
Aaron Klemz at LeftMN has his say about T-Paw’s new Wall Street gig: “Even the most cynical observer of American politics has to see the politics of class at play here. Pawlenty’s working class roots are nothing more than a commodity to be purchased by the most powerful financial firms as a public relations exercise. Whether it’s Scott Brown’s beat up pickup truck or Tim Pawlenty’s hunting jacket, the politicians who play at working class identity in the service of plutocratic interests are nothing more than glorified gofers, caddies on the bag for Wall Street. It’s a fitting legacy for a politician who’s always been willing to sacrifice the people of Minnesota for his own ambitions.”