Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Really? E-bingo games are shut down over technical glitch

Minnesota’s heroin market; “Frozen” aptly captures state weather; county buys Arden Hills site; Target sales off; billboards to display tornado warnings; and more.

The Marx Brothers didn’t do farce any better … Stribber Jean Hopfensperger reports:The first electronic bingo games aimed at helping to fund the Vikings stadium have hit a technical glitch and will be shut down until the problem is fixed, according to a report at the Minnesota’s Gambling Control Board meeting Monday. The e-bingo games were being tested in a half dozen bars and restaurants. But the screen on the device sometimes displayed a random image when a new player logged on, so the games were pulled and sent back to the testing laboratory, said John Burger, spokesman for e-tab Manufacturing, the St. Paul-based company producing the games. … The electronic pulltabs sales have fallen dramatically short of projections for funding the Vikings stadium. But Burger, and many charities, believe the bingo games — with $1,000-plus jackpots — could catch on. ‘We think linked bingo is the driver,’ said Burger.”

In the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Gretta Becay has a piece on the connection between painkillers and extraordinarily pure heroin floating around Minnesota: “Why would Minnesota have the purest heroin at some of the cheapest prices in the nation? ‘Why would dealers do that?’ Hennepin County Medical Center’s Dr. Charles Reznikoff asked a group of about 100 people in Kasson-Mantorville High School gym on Monday. Beginning in 2007, authorities discovered that heroin seized in Minnesota was more pure and cheaper than elsewhere. ‘It looked like someone was trying to establish a heroin market,’ Reznikoff said. ‘And sure enough; here it is 2013, and there’s one here.’ ”

Good piece in The New York Times on Virginia-transplant Jenn Ackerman’s photos of Minnesota, lamentably titled “Frozen.” Jesse Newman writes: “Spring arrived last week in New York, bringing warm days and a bumper crop of daffodils to grassy patches all around the city. In Los Angeles, the weather was — predictably — pleasant. But elsewhere in America, it was still snowing. By Thursday, a spring storm had swept eastward, carrying wind, snow and freezing temperatures across the Rockies and the Great Plains, to Jenn Ackerman’s adopted home, Minnesota. ‘Winter was something that I was quite scared of, moving to Minnesota,’ said Ms. Ackerman, a native of Virginia. ‘But I’d heard that if you want to love Minnesota, you have to accept winter. So I thought, ‘O.K., I don’t know what that means, but I’m going to do this.’ ” It’ll take a long time to live down this spring …

The Arden Hills ammo site (aka Zygi Wilf’s first dream) has been sold to the county for $28 million. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes, “Despite objection from some neighboring residents and thorny questions from a federal lawmaker, Ramsey County has finalized the purchase of the largest Superfund site in the state — the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills — for $28 million. How will the land be redeveloped? That remains to be seen. Officials have hired Carl Bolander and Sons. Co. to move forward with environmental clean-up as the 427 acres are transferred into Ramsey County’s hands and out of the control of the federal government.” It’ll be a wonderful place to raise your kids …

Article continues after advertisement

The GleanSpeaking of makeovers … Paul Walsh of the Strib has news of what is in store for Nicollet Mall: “The officials say the price of the makeover is expected to be $30 million to $40 million and include a complete reconstruction of the street and sidewalks from Washington Avenue south to Grant Street, 12 blocks in all. … Designed in the 1960s and rebuilt in the late 1980s, the mall is requiring an ever-increasing rise in maintenance and repair costs, the city says. The city will accept proposals for the renovation and narrow the field to four before making a final selection this fall. The hope is to have the work completed by 2016.” Are you thinking “upscale e-pulltabs,” too?

“Slightly below,” says Target. The AP reports: “Target says its first-quarter adjusted profit will likely come in slightly below its forecast because of weaker-than-expected sales of seasonal and weather-sensitive items. The discount retailer had predicted profit of $1.10 to $1.20 per share for the February-April period, excluding one-time items. Analysts expect earnings of 96 cents per share. Target Corp. said Tuesday that it expects revenue at stores open at least a year, a key retail metric, will be about flat for the period.” They didn’t discount parkas, flannel underwear and snow shovels too early, did they?

Maybe she can do a little fundraising in Britain while she’s there. Brett Neely of MPR, looking at first quarter funding for Minnesota congressional delegation, notes: “The biggest bit of news here is that Republican Michele Bachmann’s fundraising juggernaut has slowed slightly. Her campaign brought in a net $678,000, far more than anyone else in the delegation and more than most House incumbents. Still, she raised $1 million more at this point two years ago, though that fundraising came at a time when Bachmann was raising her profile for what was ultimately an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Also worth noting is that Bachmann spent more than she raised, so her net cash position actually fell from $2 million to $1.8 million. Jim Graves, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Bachmann again next year, reported negligible fundraising in the first quarter.”

How about Slush Warnings? Tim Nelson at MPR says, “Authorities in Hennepin and Ramsey counties say they’ll have a new tool this summer to alert the public to severe weather. The counties will be partnering with Clear Channel Outdoor to display tornado warnings on 47 digital billboards around the Twin Cities, as well as a half-dozen digital road signs operated by Hennepin County. … Dan Luna, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, said he hopes the signs will reach motorists that traditional alerts don’t.”

Christian compassion and tolerance on public display … Aaron Rupar at City Pages writes, “A Facebook thread posted yesterday about church accessibility at north Minneapolis’s New Salem Missionary Baptist Church turned into a controversial discussion about gay marriage, with plenty of input from New Salem Pastor Jerry McAfee. At one point, McAfee, who last year said he supported a same-sex marriage ban because ‘that is the Bible way,’ told an interlocutor that ‘The most hateful and bigoted people I know are gay.’ ”