$500,000 U of M cost-savings study provides a few ideas

A half-million-dollar study to save money at the U of M has come up with a few ideas. Jenna Ross of the Strib says: “The new report, for which the U paid $495,000, points out areas where the university is highly decentralized, sometimes suggesting that more clustered structures could be more efficient. Just 8 percent of the university’s finance and purchasing employees are housed in its central offices. … the university is making ‘good strides’ in consolidating its desktop support, she said. Right now, it has 169 computer users to one IT helper — far below a 400-1 ratio on the low end of similar universities, the report says.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson writes that the Vikings stadium site likely will be cleaner than the Saints’ in St. Paul: “[T]here IS something under the Metrodome site, says Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. She said today that environmental studies for the new stadium also have found a limited amount of contaminated soil. Kelm-Helgen says a warehouse once stood in what is now the back parking lot of the Dome, near 11th Street. That led to some testing, looking for industrial residue in the soil. Kelm-Helgen says the environmental study being wrapped up by the MSFA found the pollution. ‘They found one small spot, that’s about 20 feet below the surface that has some contaminated soil. It’s basically at that end of the parking lot on 11th Avenue. It looks like it’s not at all extensive, and not unexpected.’ “

Well, something needs to be said pretty soon … Rupa Shenoy of MPR reports: “As protesters continue to call for an independent investigation into the death of a man killed in a Minneapolis basement, Chief of Police Janee Harteau Thursday said she has not provided more answers because she does not want to compromise the investigation. … Harteau said the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has asked her not to speak about the case. The office is reviewing the case and will send it to a grand jury. ‘Being able to share facts when we get them may not be as fast as people would like them, but the facts don’t change,’ Harteau said. ‘I would hope to get to a place where people trust in me and trust in this police department to do the right thing and withhold judgment until all the facts are out.’ ” So in other words, this one really is that complicated.

Never mind the bitter melon and bok choi … Mara Gottfried of the PiPress reports: “Suspected sodium cyanide, steroids, penicillin and opiates were seized from more than 15 vendor stalls at the Hmongtown Marketplace, the Ramsey County sheriff’s office said Thursday. St. Paul police are looking into whether a death is connected to drugs similar to those recovered at the market at 217 Como Ave. … More than 200 vendors operate indoors and outdoors at the year-round market, offering a variety of products and services, according to its website.The items found during the Tuesday, June 11, search at Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul filled 80 large evidence bins. Precise information about the number of people potentially sickened by drugs suspected to be from the Hmongtown Marketplace wasn’t available. … The items found still were being inventoried … [Sheriff’s office spokesman Randy] Gustafson said. ‘It was like an open-air pharmaceutical market with no markings on the packages,’ he said.”

The EPA wants Minnesota to shape up … Josephine Marcotty of the Strib reports “Federal regulators have ordered Minnesota to impose more stringent limits on pollutants discharged into the state’s lakes and rivers, an unusual step that could threaten state authority to enforce the nation’s clean-water laws. The order, the first of its kind for Minnesota, was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a petition from a nonprofit environmental law firm that for years has accused the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) of lax enforcement in protecting the state’s waters. The petition focused primarily on municipal wastewater treatment and phosphorus, a damaging contaminant that causes noxious and sometimes toxic algal blooms in lakes and rivers.” And weren’t we supposed to be loosening permitting for the job creators?

The GleanSurly beer will have another taproom for the beer needy …  In the Strib, Don Jacobson writes: “Surly President Omar Ansari is now taking advantage of the law he helped spearhead by converting the modest tasting room at the current Brooklyn Center brewery into a full-fledged taproom. Ansari’s effort got the backing of the Brooklyn Center City Council Monday … Now, with a city license and special-use permit in hand, Ansari and taproom manager Linda Haug say they are getting ready to “slap a coat of paint” on the tasting room and make other modest improvements in preparation for its debut as a functioning taproom. Its final hurdle is a pending determination by the Metropolitan Council on whether it will be subject to additional sewer access charges.” Which makes this another waste water story …

Mom and Dad might want to check those references again … The Duluth News Tribune covers the case of the hitchhiking toddler: “Authorities ordered a Pine County day care center closed Wednesday after a 2-year-old from the center was found wandering along Minnesota Highway 23 and sheriff’s deputies saw possible signs that the day care provider was intoxicated. … The deputies canvassed the area looking for the girl’s home, locating a day care center about one block from where the girl was found. The center had a fenced play area filled with several children. The gate to the play area was standing open. The deputies met the day care provider and determined that girl had come from the center. While talking with the provider the deputies saw signs of intoxication and performed field sobriety tests.”

While you’re there, relive your favorite Vista and Windows 8 moments … . Stribber John Ewoldt says: “Best Buy is starting to resemble a department store. Shoppers will soon find the Richfield-based electronics giant’s latest branded department, a Windows store by Microsoft. It joins Apple and Samsung Experience in Best Buy’s list of store-within-a-store brands. The Microsoft departments, which will roll out starting this month in about half of Best Buy’s big-box stores, will include Windows-based tablets along with PCs, Windows phones, Microsoft Office and Xbox products that were previously sold in multiple departments. At nearly 2,000 square feet, the mini-stores will be about four times larger than the Samsung spots.”

Apparently there’s government by divine right out in Willmar. Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune reports: “Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish continues to withhold the names of the eight advisers who helped him draft his alternate plan for reorganizing city government. The West Central Tribune has filed a letter requesting information about the group with Willmar city government. The letter asks the city to cite specific Minnesota statutes that allow the names to be withheld if the city does not release them. Under Minnesota’s Data Practices Act, records of state and local government are presumed to be public unless a specific exception exists in the law. … In his proposal, Yanish referred to an ‘ad hoc advisory group’ which helped him develop the plan. When asked by the Tribune earlier this week to identify the members of his committee, Yanish declined. Yanish said Wednesday that the eight people are not members of an official city committee but a group with diverse backgrounds who ‘are more in tune with my line of thinking’, Yanish said.” Isn’t that how the first Dick Daley used to do it in Chicago?

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