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Minnesota ‘road show’ touts charitable gambling e-games

Ballpark project’s price tag jumps $8 million; the Replacements reuniting for some shows; McCollum’s drone restrictions derailed; Brodkorb-case costs top $226,000; mortgage-fraud irony; and more.

Oh yeah, problem solved … . Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib says: “In Duluth on Tuesday night, about 35 charities and bar owners showed up for a chance to test-drive all the electronic pulltab and bingo games now available in Minnesota. They got tips from charitable gambling leaders and bars along the North Shore who use them. They received the latest data from state officials on Minnesota’s most popular e-gambling counties, the effect on charity collections and more. … Problems include misperceptions over state regulations, time needed to sell the games and where e-gambling taxes go. ‘There’s a misconception about how the stadium is being funded,’ Lund said at the Dry Dock Bar in Duluth. For example, all charitable gambling taxes, from electronic and paper games, contribute to the state general fund and the Vikings stadium.” Bonus idea No. 313: Require everyone doing community service to play e-pulltabs 45 minutes of each hour ordered by the court.

Now there’s a dollar figure attached to the clean-up of the Saints stadium site in downtown St. Paul. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “Without so much as a spade in the ground, the price tag for the future ballpark in downtown St. Paul has just shot up $8.8 million. But not all of that increase is related to greater-than-expected amounts of underground soil contamination. Nearly a third of the budget overage is a revised estimate for the cost of basic construction. The 7,000-seat Lowertown ballpark, previously estimated to cost $54 million to construct, will need most of the additional $8.8 million to correct soil problems and relocate a sanitary sewer line that runs down Fifth Street.” I’m thinking … a St. Paul-themed electronic gambling game …

At MPR, Curtis Gilbert says: “The site, over its history, has been used to manufacture shampoo and turn coal into gas. The soil contains solvents, petroleum, coal byproducts and heavy metals. The city knew it would have to haul away the top five to seven feet of soil. Now it’s discovered that the problems run much deeper — more like 20 feet. The increased cleanup costs account for $6.2 million of funding gap. The other $2.6 million comes from the price of building the ballpark itself.”

Not quite the Beatles, but close … Andrea Swensson of The Current writes: “It’s official: After years of near-misses, teases, and tantalizing hints, the Replacements have just announced that they will, in fact, reunite to play at least three shows. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson have signed on to headline three different installments of the Riot Fest, which is scheduled to hit Toronto August 24-25, Chicago September 13-15, and Denver September 21-22. It will be the first time they have performed together since July 4, 1991. … All of this news comes on the heels of the bittersweet saga happening around latter-day ‘Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke in February of 2012 and has been at the center of the Songs for Slim benefit series. When Stinson and Westerberg learned about the seriousness of Dunlap’s stroke, they decided to go into the studio to record a cover of one of his songs. Once they began playing together, however, something clicked.”

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A mental evaluation … ?  David Hanners of the PiPress writes: “A judge wants a competency evaluation to see if a former janitor understands what will happen if he drops the appeal of his conviction and 20-year sentence for aiding the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis’ decision to have Mahamud Said Omar examined by an expert came at the end of an hour-long hearing Wednesday in which a sometimes-emotional Omar alternately said he wanted to drop the appeal, then didn’t, then did again. … Omar’s lawyers have questioned his mental state, and family members have said he has suffered from seizures and other problems. Answering questions from Davis, the defendant often launched into lengthy answers punctuated by sobs, wild gestures and, a few times, profanity.” You almost expected him to announce he was running for Congress in the 6th District.

The GleanKill the drones … Bill Salisbury of the PiPress reports, “U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum [Wednesday] will propose cutting off funding for the Central Intelligence Agency’s program that kills targets with unmanned drones. The St. Paul Democrat, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a press release she will propose an amendment to the 2014 defense appropriations bill that would give sole responsibility for any lethal military action using unmanned aerial vehicles to the Department of Defense. … UPDATE: The committee denied McCollum a vote on her amendment. Both Democrats and Republicans on the panel refused to support her motion calling for a vote on the amendment, the congresswoman’s staff reported.”

Do I hear a quarter of a million? The AP says: “State legal expenses associated with former Senate aide Michael Brodkorb’s lawsuit now top $226,000, according to an invoice made public Wednesday. The Minnesota Senate is paying a private firm to fight claims it mishandled Brodkorb’s termination. The latest $27,700 invoice covers expenses from February through April in a case that has now stretched on for almost 18 months. … The legal invoice from the Minneapolis law firm Larkin Hoffman Daly and Lindgren details time spent analyzing the case, conferring with current and former Senate officials and Brodkorb’s attorneys and examining employment cases nationwide that deal with sex discrimination. One entry refers to the formation of a ‘confidentiality stipulation.’ The federal case is on track for a summer 2014 trial, but a settlement conference has been scheduled for late September.”

The ironies of this one could gag a hedge (fund) hog … At Gawker, John Cook writes: “The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin announced a major conviction today in the ongoing criminal prosecution of the people who brought the economy to its knees four years ago via a toxic campaign of mortgage fraud. Meet James Wazlawik of Prescott, Wisc. … He is married with three sons, one of whom was born with Down Syndrome and required heart surgery not long after he was born. Today he was sentenced to one day in jail and three years supervised release after pleading guilty to ‘making a false statement to a bank in connection with a home equity loan.’ His crime: When he applied for a $150,000 home equity loan from Citibank in 2005, he put his signature to an ‘income verification form’ claiming that his monthly income was $8,500. In fact, it was substantially less than that. … But why would a loan officer encourage someone without consistent income to obtain a home equity loan? Probably because Citibank, the victim in this case — the U.S. Attorney’s press release notes that the bank ‘lost $146,829 when Wazlawik was unable to repay the loan’ — spent most of the last decade feverishly buying, packaging, and reselling mortgages that it knew would never be repaid. In 2012, Citigroup paid $158 million to the federal government to settle claims that in order to obtain insurance from the Federal Housing Administration, it systematically lied about the likelihood its loans would be repaid — sort of like providing false information on a loan application.” Sort of …

KARE-TV’s John Croman reminds viewers of an unresolved NSA-like overreach by the state last winter: “The controversy over the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records has plenty of parallels in Minnesota, including one that state lawmakers wrestled with during the 2013 session. They debated, but never resolved, the issue of how long law enforcement agencies should be allowed to keep license plate tracking data for cars that are not connected to any crimes. ‘They are tracking you as if they were following you, even though they don’t have to follow you,’ Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, told KARE. … The chief author of the House Bill, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg of Lakeville, said she would continue to support the House position. ‘Most people would be stunned to know how much data about our private lives is being gathered and stored by various entities out there,’ Rep. Holberg told KARE.” And then there’s VISA and MasterCard …