A smack of reality … Julie Siple of MPR reports: “New data from the Minnesota Department of Education show the number of students on free or reduced-price lunch rose 3.8 percent over last year. There are now more than 320,000 students on the program, or 38.3 percent of children in Minnesota’s public schools. That’s below the national rate of 54 percent, and the increases have slowed after steep jumps during the recession. That growth comes despite signs that the economy is improving as more people are finding jobs and housing sales are rebounding. Given that improvement, analysts don’t know exactly why more kids are in line for free lunch.”
Jon Krawczynski’s AP story on the U of M’s hiring Rick Pitino’s son as its new basketball coach says: “Richard Pitino was regarded as one of the nation’s up-and-coming young coaches at Florida International and comes with a last name that draws immediate respect in all corners of college basketball. That combination was too good for Minnesota to pass up. … Many expected Teague and associate athletic director Mike Ellis — two men considered to have strong contacts in the college basketball coaching world — to go for a big name to bring a different energy into a program they felt had hit a wall.”
The great and beautiful city of Edina is getting tough(er) with all the tear-down action. Mary Jane Smetanka of the Strib says: “Edina is tightening supervision of residential teardowns and replacements, with new requirements and a new enforcement specialist to supervise projects from start to finish. The plan, approved by the City Council this week and taking effect immediately, will allow the city to hire for the new position by raising the price of demolition permits from about $200 to $1,500. … Teardowns and the new homes that replace them have been a source of angst in Edina, where last year a record 100 teardowns occurred. Construction is heavy in certain neighborhoods, with towering new dwellings sometimes filling small lots.” The job creators like, you know, height.
Sort of … related. Jenna Ross of the Strib says: “Piles of trash, some 5 feet high, littered neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota last fall. The piles were so big — and neighbors so exasperated — that they made the news. ‘Dinkytown or Stinkytown?’ one headline read. Not this semester, some officials hope. A new plan, run by the university’s ReUse Program and others, will target move-out messes this May. A day before city garbage comes by, Salvation Army will do its own grab. Then, the university will collect reusable items in a free store for students to peruse in both spring and fall.” Avoid the badly dented pony kegs.
Do they get to linger by the pool? Kevin Diaz of the Strib tells us: “[L]ong-time Al Franken supporter Beverly Schilleman of Arden Hills is the winner of the senator’s national campaign sweepstakes to have brunch with him and late night talk show host Conan O’Brien. The event is scheduled for this weekend at O’Brien’s home in Los Angeles. … The all-expenses-paid trip to “hang out” with Franken and O’Brien (who, like the senator, did a stint at Saturday Night Live) was an enticement to help the Minnesota Democrat hit his $100,000 fundraising contest goal for his 2014 re-election bid. Franken’s GOP opponent has yet to be determined.”
One of the most powerful men in America will be in town later this month. Tom Scheck of MPR writes: “The Minnesota Taxpayers League announced today that Grover Norquist, with Americans for Tax Reform, will headline the annual Taxpayers Rally at the State Capitol on April 27. Norquist is best known for fiercely opposing tax hikes on the federal level. His “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” asks candidates for U.S. House and Senate [to] oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. The Taxpayers League says all but 16 Republican members on the House and six Republican Senators have signed the pledge. … Former presidential candidate Herman Cain headlined the rally last year.” So next year, maybe … Donald Trump?
There’ll be no federal lawsuit for that ex-Hamline professor. Says David Hanners in the PiPress: “A federal judge has thrown out much of a former Hamline University law professor’s lawsuit against the school and the head of St. Paul’s police union. Robin Magee’s claims that her federal rights were violated lacked merit, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim said in a memorandum opinion and order he issued last week in the woman’s two-year-old lawsuit. Tunheim left Magee a ray of hope. He said she could still pursue some claims that the university’s law school violated her rights under state law — but that she’d have to do it in state court.”
MPR’s Marianne Combs shines some attention on a photo show … of smartphone pix: “Photographer Buckner Sutter has gone from taking images with toy cameras and old Polaroids to using software on his smartphone to create a similar, otherworldly feel. … Now with multiple photo editing applications like Hipstamatic, Filterstorm and Photowizard, Sutter finds he’s able to create layered images that evoke the primitive feel of the old film-based toy cameras — Dianas, Holgas — that he used to experiment with. But now he doesn’t have to deal with the unpredictability of film. ‘With the digital apps the learning curve is really fast compared to working with negatives,’ says Sutter. ‘You can change as you go to get different results. I do it because I can get the work done; it’s always with me. I’m immersed in the visual world and capturing it. I can do this on my break at work — I can walk and edit images at the same time!”
Lake Superior is … 13 inches below average. The Duluth News Tribune says: “Lake Superior dropped two inches in March, a month it usually drops only a half-inch, the International Lake Superior Board of Control announced Tuesday. The lake now sits 13 inches below the long-term average for April 1 and 3 inches below the level at this time last year. … Lakes Michigan and Huron, meanwhile, rose an inch in March, a month the lakes usually rise 2 inches. That’s not good news for shipping and boating interests worried about low water levels, as the lakes now are 27 inches below their long-term average and 15 inches lower than April 1, 2012.” That is a lot of water.