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Minnesota has fifth fastest-growing economy in nation

More Wisconsin comparisons; gas companies fined; party turns deadly; Medtronic’s Infuse found overrated; Minneapolis streetcar test vote; $48 billion in wealth to change hands; Schiff setbacks; and more.

Unless numbers have started to lie … Martin Moylan’s MPR story says: “Minnesota has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, says a study by the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis. The federal agency says Minnesota tied California for fifth place in growth of gross domestic product last year. That’s a measure of durable-goods manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, wholesale trade, and finance and insurance. … Oil-rich North Dakota had the fastest-growing economy in 2012 with a GDP growth rate of 13.4 percent. Texas was second with 4.8 percent growth, followed by Oregon with 3.9 percent, and Washington with 3.6 percent.”

Most likely related … There seems to be a run of Minnesota-Wisconsin comparison stories lately. Here’s another, from Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “[B]ased on how they are being governed, you would think they were two different planets. Wisconsin has been cutting taxes, curbing unions, expanding private-school vouchers and rejecting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Minnesota has been raising taxes, empowering unions, legalizing same-sex marriage and embracing Obamacare. Wisconsin is getting its most conservative governance in decades, Minnesota its most liberal. In their underlying political makeup, they may be as similar as any two states in America. But one is being governed like South Carolina, the other like Vermont.Redistricting is key to the story because it helps explain how two states that voted so similarly last fall could end up with such different governing outcomes.”

Blame it (only a little) on the gas company … John Brewer’s PiPress story says: “Investigations have closed in two February 2010 house explosions, with fines levied against two gas companies. In the first case, a home at 2014 Villard Ave. in St. Paul burned to the ground after a sewer contractor accidentally ruptured a gas line that ran through a sewer line. Northern States Power had bored the gas line through the sewer line unintentionally. In the second explosion, the agency initially fined Center Pointe Energy $1 million for a delayed response to a house explosion at 5000 Arden Ave. in Edina. … The agency reduced the fine to $50,000.” That’ll teach ’em.

The usual gentlemen’s club might have been a bit less dangerous. The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports: “A 47-year-old Utica man was killed Saturday night when he was accidentally struck by shrapnel during a bachelor/bachelorette party near Arendahl west of Rushford. The man was identified as Jeffrey Taylor, who was tending cattle with his two sons on the property when they were invited to the party at a home on the same property, said Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen. … Taylor was standing behind someone shooting a high-powered rifle at an exploding Tannerite target when Taylor was hit; the target was 20 to 30 yards away. Some of the people at the party were shooting at ‘explosive targets for fun,’ Jensen said. Just before 9 p.m., someone shot at a target as Taylor and others watched. Taylor was apparently hit in the abdomen by shrapnel.”

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Another bad day for Medtronic. Martin Moylan at MPR reports: “Long-awaited reviews of Medtronic’s much-criticized Infuse spine fusion product have found it provides little to no benefit compared with more typical treatments. Medtronic’s Infuse bone-grafting product has long been beset by controversy. Questions have been raised about its effectiveness, as well as the integrity of Medtronic-funded scientific studies evaluating the product, which is designed to substitute for a bone graft in spinal fusion procedures. … [Study co-author Roger] Chou said his team found that past Medtronic-funded studies overstated benefits and underplayed harms of Infuse. And he said the U.K. and U.S. teams both essentially concluded that for most patients Infuse doesn’t provide clear benefits, such as pain reduction and improved bone growth.”

It’s voting time today on the first test of a Nicollet Avenue-Central Avenue streetcar line. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “The City Council will take its first votes Tuesday on a plan to possibly redirect about $60 million in taxes from massive new apartment projects to help fund a $200 million streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. That would revive a mode of transit that disappeared in Minneapolis nearly 60 years ago, although modern streetcars look more akin to light-rail cars than their 20th-century counterparts. … If the multiple funding pieces fall into place — which remains uncertain — construction could begin in 2016 or 2017.” There’ll be none of that damned, silly train construction stuff in Wisconsin, by God.

The Glean$48 billion is still a lot of money. Jean Hopfensperger in the Strib says: “An estimated $43 trillion is predicted to change hands from baby boomers and their parents to the younger generations over the next 40 years. That includes an estimated $48 billion in Minnesota in the next two decades. Philanthropic leaders see an unprecedented opportunity to capture a chunk of the money to improve the lives of Minnesotans and the nonprofits that serve them. … A lot of ‘ifs’ remain, however. Do the children even want to learn about philanthropy? With careers and kids, do they have time for the volunteering and board meetings? Do they live in Minnesota and want to invest here?” … And aren’t mansions in Naples still going for 85 cents on the dollar?

In a Strib commentary, local writer Brandon Fertig says we should leave the old Nazi alone: “Regarding Karkoc, think about what needs to be done if your idea of justice is to see him stand trial. Police will need to escort an old man to a squad car. America will fly him to Europe, and his trial will require the work of hundreds of people and thousands of hours. All the while you’ll hope that he doesn’t pass away, so you can see justice prevail. And if age isn’t a factor, what about health? What if he were senile or unconscious? Would your need for his possible punishment still require a trial? That’s not justice. It’s a disruption to his family and community and a huge expenditure because we think his punishment provides validation to the deceased and he, as an alleged former Nazi, is the embodiment of evil. And unprincipled or not, this is something the people saying ‘leave him alone’ intuitively understand.” I can think of quite a few families and communities disrupted by genocidal Nazis.

Gary Schiff’s odds of becoming the next mayor of Minneapolis seem to have gotten a little longer. At City Pages, Andy Mannix writes: “The DFL endorsement convention Saturday didn’t go very well for anyone — it did, after all, end in an endorsement-less pizza party — but Gary Schiff suffered a particularly difficult day, losing his campaign manager and one of his most influential supporters. In a surprising move, the Minneapolis Fire Department union pulled its endorsement from Schiff on the convention floor, pledging to back Mark Andrew. Reached [Monday] morning, Schiff’s campaign manager, Mark Warren, says he is also ‘not moving forward’ with Schiff after Saturday. Warren didn’t elaborate on his reasons for leaving.”