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Dan Patch transit line is still a ‘dead horse’

Gay ex-T’wolves player first active pro to come out; Red River flood danger drops; “zipper merge” still largely unknown; state bike fatalities drop; Wells Fargo protest fades; and more.

At MPR, Sasha Aslainian reports on the continuing fight over Dan Patch: “Buried deep in the Senate transportation bill at the Minnesota Legislature is a dead horse — actually, a rail line named after him. The Dan Patch line, named for a famous early 20th century race horse, carries freight between the Twin Cities and Northfield. The idea of bringing back passenger service along that route is so controversial that lawmakers passed a special law to halt discussion of it more than a decade ago. … Some commuters would like to see passenger service restored, so lawmakers are considering whether to lift the ‘Dan Patch moratorium.’ State Rep. Ron Erhardt, DFL-Edina, is still wary of the idea. Erhardt was one of the original sponsors of the Dan Patch prohibition in 2002. He said it’s one thing to have freight cars move along at 10 mph, and quite another to add the commotion and speed of passenger service.”

The first NBA player to admit he is gay once played for the Timberwolves. In the PiPress, Kevin Cusick says: ”Former Minnesota Timberwolves center Jason Collins on Monday, April 29, came forward as the first openly gay player in the history of major league sports. The 12-year veteran, who played for Washington and Boston this past season, made his revelation in an essay he wrote for Sports Illustrated that begins simply. ‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Strib religion reporter Rose French tells us the clergy on both sides of the gay marriage fight are back doing their thing: “Four pastors hold hands in a circle inside the State Capitol, asking for heavenly guidance in the task before them — lobbying. The evangelical leaders have come to urge legislators to vote no on legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. ‘We feel like we’re not being heard,” said Jim Goodew, a pastor from Brainerd who has been bringing groups down to St. Paul. ‘So a practical thing is we come down and meet with our representatives, our senators. It doesn’t mean they always agree with us … If they’re like-minded, we thank them for their service. If they’re not like-minded, we try to talk with them about why we think this is an important and far-reaching issue.’ ” I wonder, does Archbishop Nienstedt feel he “isn’t being heard”?

Flood danger on the Red River has decreased … again. The AP reports: “The major Red River flood of 2013 is fizzling out. The National Weather Service on Monday lowered the expected crest forecast in Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., to 35.5 feet on Wednesday morning, down from the 37-foot prediction that was issued Sunday. Workers have spent the last week building clay levees and sandbag dikes to protect Fargo to 40 feet after an earlier weather service prediction that included the possibility of a rapid snowmelt and steady precipitation.”

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Really, people, is this so tough? Tim Harlow of the Strib reports: “The Minnesota Department of Transportation first introduced the ‘zipper merge’ in the early 2000s. Yet a decade later, it’s still trying to educate motorists on the proper and polite way to merge in construction zones. Despite its 10-year presence on state roads, more than 60 percent of the people who participate in online forums sponsored by the agency to talk about transportation issues said they were unaware the zipper merge is an acceptable driving technique that is included in the latest edition of the Minnesota Driver’s Manual.” So … I say … those 60 percent should stay off the roads.

The GleanWe are such models … At MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar says: ‘When U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood picked Minnesota to host one of two bicycle safety summits, he held the state up as a model of how a place can increase the number of bikes on the road without increasing deaths. The number of bicycle fatalities in Minnesota declined in each year from 2008-2011. But nationally, bike fatalities increased 9 percent from 2010-2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bicycle deaths also accounted for a growing number of overall traffic deaths — 2.1 percent in 2011, NHTSA said.”

Only well-compensated hipsters need apply. Janet Moore of the Strib files a note on yet another upscale rental property: “The 198-unit apartment project, located at 2841 Bryant Ave. S., adjacent to the Midtown Greenway, is now pre-leasing alcoves, one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus a den, two-bedrooms, two-bedrooms plus a den, and ‘New York-style’ two-story duplexes. Space ranges from 572 square feet to 1,493 square feet, and rents range from $1,310 to $2,980 a month. … [it] has a number of features, including a ‘Saltwater Natatorium,’ a saltwater lap pool with a sphagnum moss filter system, a rooftop terrace and ‘Vitamin D’ deck, a Zen garden, an art gallery, a heated dog park, bike storage and workshop, a fitness center and a public art drinking fountain that can be used by residents and Greenway users alike.” Obviously needs to offer a Zen art dog park.

That Macalester student sit-in, protesting the school’s business ties to Wells Fargo has ended … with a whimper. Aaron Rupar of City Pages says: “Student protestors ended their nearly week-long sit-in at Weyerhaeuser Hall before the meeting and won’t be resuming it this week despite not having their demands met. ‘The administration stayed firm and their answer is no,’ protest leader Rebecca Hornstein told City Pages this morning. ‘They were pretty unwilling to negotiate.’ Hornstein confirmed that the sit-in is over, but said she and other members of the Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus (KWOC) group will hold ‘a long meeting’ tonight to talk about the next steps in their campaign. ‘This isn’t over. We’re definitely continuing with our campaign. There’s a lot of energy in our group, in our community, and we’re still gonna be pushing for it,’ she said.”

Interesting piece by Maja Beckstrom of the PiPress: “When 12-year-old Emma Mulhern was deciding what topic to choose for her school history project, it came down to the discovery of DNA or Harriet Bishop. She chose Bishop, Minnesota’s first school teacher. … But Emma also stumbled on a lesser-known chapter of Bishop’s life. Emma’s mother, Linda Mulhern, noticed a reference to a court case attached to the grandmother’s abstract and took her daughter to the Minnesota History Center to dig around in court documents from the 1860s. … It turns out that Bishop bought large tracts of land — including [grandmother Peggy] Wedell’s lot — on behalf of a New York investor who hoped to make money off land speculation in the recently opened territory of Minnesota. When land values slumped, the complicated deals went sour and Bishop got caught in a lawsuit that dragged on for 10 years. ‘It’s in my script,’ Emma said. ‘I said she was brought to court, and she was sued because of the sloppiness on her part. I think it was sloppiness on her part, maybe cheating,’ added Mulhern. ‘I’m not sure.’ “