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St. Paul to pay out $400,000 in police brutality case

Twin Cities house prices top national average; dog park hassles continue; Best Buy developments; touch-screen voting machines dissed; and more.

With my MinnPost colleagues all over election coverage, this morning’s Glean will concentrate on other matters.

Nice going, St. Paul PD. Rochelle Olson of the Strib says the city will settle a brutality suit against St. Paul’s finest … for the highest award on record: “The St. Paul City Council is expected to settle a police brutality case with a mother and her son on Wednesday for $400,000, an amount tied for the largest brutality settlement ever paid by the city. Under the four-page settlement agreement, the city denied wrongdoing while Daniela Hobbs, 48, and Larelle Steward, 28, agreed not to discuss the settlement with the media. Hobbs and Steward sued the city in U.S.   District Court over an incident on Oct. 28, 2010, at their apartment on the 600 block of Snelling Avenue N.”

At the AP, Christopher Rugaber reports that Twin Cities home prices are now increasing at a rate above the national average: “CoreLogic said Tuesday that U.S. home prices for September jumped to a six-year high, rising 5 percent compared with last year. The Twin Cities metro exceeded that gain. Prices, including distressed sales, rose 6.6 percent compared with last year. From August to September, prices were up 0.9 percent compared with a 0.3 percent national decline. The report is one of several that supports the belief that house price declines that endured for years have ended and that prices have stabilized, or increased in some areas.”

This dog park has been one serious hassle. Randy Furst of the Strib reports: “The estimated cost of a new dog park near Lyndale Farmstead Park in south Minneapolis has doubled since last year to $215,000. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the contract for the park, which could open later this month. The higher cost reflects the need to install an expensive gravel base, rather than wood chips common in other dog parks in the city, said Park Board President John Erwin. He said park officials found that the wood chips could float into an adjacent water retention pond and damage pumps that move the water into storm sewers. … Proposals considered for more than 10 years culminated in an epic fight two years ago in which civil rights advocates successfully blocked its construction at Martin Luther King Park. The King Park site was rejected by the board in early 2011. Many black residents said allowing dogs to run free there would denigrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose non-violent demonstrations were attacked by police in the South who sometimes used snarling dogs.”

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Also at the Strib, Thomas Lee says Best Buy’s under-performance may be an asset to founder Richard Schulze’s dream of taking it private: “Judging by Best Buy’s slumping stock price, founder Richard Schulze’s quest to buy the company has just become a whole lot cheaper. Since August, when Schulze first indicated he would pay $24 to $26 a share, Best Buy Co. Inc. shares have dropped more than 25 percent to below $15 a share, closing Tuesday at $14.95. As a result, Schulze’s eventual offer range won’t be as high,’ said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. In fact, some investors think Schulze could eventually offer as low as $21 a share and still get the job done.”

In an MPR commentary, Mark Halvorson and Barbara Simons of Citizens for Election integrity Minnesota take a kind Luddite attitude toward how we vote: “About one quarter of voters nationwide will use paperless direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, most of which have touch screens. Unfortunately, the DRE software can store voters’ choices incorrectly. Software is notoriously buggy, which is why software vendors, notably Microsoft and Apple, are forever sending out software fixes, many of which patch security holes. In the event of a recount, paperless DREs will spit out the same unverified numbers as in the first count, numbers that could be wrong. There will be no paper ballots that accurately represent the voters’ choices to determine the correct outcome. … What should be done? All jurisdictions that have both paperless DREs and paper ballots with optical scanners should strongly encourage voters to vote on paper ballots. Jurisdictions that allow either a manual recount or a machine retabulation should count by hand. We need legislation to ensure that every state uses only paper ballot systems and conducts meaningful audits and recounts.” Charcoal scratches on a cave wall will work, too.

Yet another Obama-by-a-noose effigy was pulled down Tuesday. This time in Duluth. Aaron Rupar of City Pages writes: “First Wisconsin, then Rochester, and now Duluth? Sadly, it appears that’s the case. For the third time in recent weeks, an Obama hater has chosen an especially hateful way to express their opposition to the president, as a Barack effigy was found hanging from a Duluth billboard earlier today. … In the Upper Midwest, it seems nooses have become the unofficial symbol of the racist anybody-but-Obama segment of the population.”

The GleanIn a bad news/good news post, the folks at Heavy Table tell us that the Duluth restaurateurs behind Fitgers will not open a Twin Cities location … but … they’ll open a “beer outpost” on Canal Park. “Ever seen that old, red-stone train station by the lakeside walking path in Canal Park? In a cool twist, the owners of Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth just bought the building and plan to turn it into some kind of beer outpost. What that means for the soon-to-open Canal Park Brewing Company, I don’t know, but both places will definitely change Canal Park’s beer scene for the better. In related news, the Fitger’s crew had announced plans for a North Loop restaurant and bar, but those have been scuttled.”

Strib tech guy Steve Alexander advises a reader in Chaska to stick with Windows 7: “Different versions of Windows 8 are being offered on PCs, tablet computers and smartphones. But in every case the new operating system is primarily aimed at people who are using touch-sensitive screens. So unless you’re planning to buy a touch-screen in connection with upgrading to Windows 8, you’re probably better off continuing to use Windows 7. By most accounts, using the touch-screen-oriented Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard is more difficult than using previous Windows versions with a mouse and keyboard.”

OK, one election-related piece, from the Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood blog: “A bunch of brief thoughts, although we’ll have a lot more time to pick at these bones in the coming days.

• Nate Silver apparently knows more about politics than Michael Barone. While that result surprises me, it appears to be the case. You have to give Silver the nod. I had asked whether numbers mattered more than observation. In this cycle at least, they did.

• Second terms rarely go as well as first terms — in my lifetime Nixon was forced from office, Reagan was dogged with scandal, Clinton was impeached and Bush 43 slid into stasis. We haven’t had a successful second presidential term in this country since Eisenhower and even that one had issues. I don’t really know what Obama is going to do to be more effective in his second term, but he’s got issues that go well beyond what faced some of his predecessors. I am almost certain that we are headed into a recession and things will be increasingly grim in 2013 and 2014. If Obama wants to have any positive legacy, he’d be wise to start compromising right now and try to get something, anything, out of Congress. If he misreads this election, he’ll really hate 2015 and 2016 and so will his party. And so will the rest of us, I might add.”