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Gallup says Twin Citians feel safer than residents in any other metro area

Hmong group plans to buy Mai Village building; Sanford-Fairview Health merger faces resistance; St. Paul’s new school-choice application system gets high marks; and more.

What? Without a loaded hand-gun? Eric Roper of the Strib says: “A new Gallup survey indicates people feel safer in the Twin Cities than any other major metro area in the country. Of the Minneapolis-St. Paul residents, 80 percent said they feel safe walking around at night. That is two percentage points higher than Denver and Raleigh, N.C., which each clocked in at 78 percent. The results are part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which is derived from interviews with 500 people every day in 2012. … The number of violent crimes in the city in 2011 was the lowest in nearly 30 years.” Proving again the desperate need for assault rifles … .

Will the city willingly take a $500k loss to keep a restaurant open? At the PiPress Frederick Melo says: “A Hmong organization plans to buy the building occupied by the Mai Village restaurant on University Avenue, allowing the financially troubled Vietnamese restaurant to remain open as a tenant. For that to happen, however, the city will first have to swallow a $487,000 loss. … According to city documents, HAP plans to acquire the property and lease the first floor space to Mai Village and complete some renovations. HAP or an affiliate would dedicate the second-floor space to the nonprofit’s outreach programs. The plan also would require the U.S. Small Business Administration to forgive $780,000 of an $880,000 debt and the bank to forgive $310,000 of an $1.86 million debt.”

The Sanford-Fairview Health merger is going nowhere fast. Leah Beno of KMSP-TV says: “[T]he merger was met with resistance on Sunday. The majority of the weekend hearing at the Capitol was spent by Attorney General Lori Swanson, who grilled representatives from Sanford Health for not being as transparent and forthcoming with information through the process as she would have liked. Employees, patients and various representatives from the health organizations involved also attended. … a former representative of the Minnesota Hospital Association told FOX 9 News the merger would be less like selling a public library to a Barnes & Noble, but more like selling a library to Wal-Mart. He, like many others at the first hearing, seemed keen to end the merger talks.”

So therefore it’s is less of a surprise that, as Tony Kennedy reports in the Strib, “The University of Minnesota has suspended discussions with donors linked to the potential merger of the Fairview Health Systems with Sanford Health of South Dakota until the future of the U Medical Center is resolved. The moratorium would cover any potential gifts from  T. Denny Sanford, a wealthy alumnus who has been courted heavily for major contributions to the Golden Gopher athletic fund.”

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The St. Paul school district is calling its new school-choice application system a success. Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress writes: “Amid sweeping changes to its school choice system, St. Paul Public Schools launched a computerized application process this winter. The district deemed it a success and reported receiving high marks from parents who appreciated the streamlined process. … In first through 12th grades, just shy of 70 percent of students got their families’ first or second choices of schools. In kindergarten, almost all families scored their top choices. In preschool, a program funded through a local levy renewed last fall, three-quarters of students landed a spot.”

A Strib commentary by Don Leathers of the Retired educators association throws a bit more light on the public pensions “bail-out” issue. “A front-page story April 3 (“Bailout of pensions set to cost taxpayers”) suggested that Minnesota public employees are lining up on the steps of the capitol in St. Paul, demanding a handout. Nothing could be further from the truth. While most of the reporting in the article was insightful and balanced, the flames of anti-public-pension sentiment were sparked, perhaps unwittingly, in the opening paragraph, which states: ‘Minnesota taxpayers and insurance policyholders may be on the hook for $36 million’ to bail out ailing pension funds.” There’d be no problem here if all those teachers had gone in to hedge fund management instead.

The GleanFurther proof that “it’s working” next door in Cheeseheadistan … . Steven Verburg and Nick Heynen of the Wisconsin State Journal report: “In the first round of pay increases for Wisconsin state employees since union contracts were invalidated, supervisors delivered an average 6.52 percent boost to 2,757 workers, roughly one in 14 of those eligible. The payout — totaling $8.2 million — is very different from union-era raises, which were much smaller on a percentage basis but cost tens of millions more because they were distributed to most non-academic employees. … Some experts in compensation systems warned the pay increases may not have reached enough employees to prevent losses of valuable workers, while a union leader complained of favoritism by managers that was creating jealousy and friction among co-workers.”

If that offer of Omaha weather is still on the table … . Paul Huttner at MPR says of the coming week … . “nother, bigger wetter system appears headed for the Upper Midwest next week. There are huge forecast model discrepancies with this system. The GFS favors a warmer northern track that would keep precip mostly rain in the metro. The Euro favors a colder system and the potential for a mini ‘April Snowmageddon.’ Usually the Euro is the superior model, but lately it has done a lot of flip flopping and the GFS has a better track record recently. The recently upgraded Canadian GEM model is a blend of the two. The GEM favors mostly rain in the metro Monday into Tuesday then ending with a brief blast of heavy wet snow Wednesday morning.” I’m blaming this on that e-pulltab fiasco, too.

Steve Timmer at LeftMN has a couple thoughts about new GOP chairman Keith Downey’s incentivized pay structure. “Downey was just elected captain of the ghost ship RPM. Rachel Stassen-Berger has a more comprehensive report at Hot Dish Politics that includes this tidbit: Downey told officials he would like a salary of $50,000 with incentives of $25,000. All the other candidates also said they would have taken a salary. Oh, and what might those incentives be? Keeping his desk neat? Not tracking mud in from outside? Or more likely, how many Republicans get elected; whether the RPM is successful in pressing for the further dismantling of state government, or maybe how successful fundraising goes. The latter, of course, would amount to contingent compensation. In another political context, contingent compensation is illegal in Minnesota.” This Timmer fellow obviously hates jobs creators.