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Study: Minneapolis third-most ‘sinful’ city

Fargo-Moorhead drives border job growth; MNsure call center coming; state details new sales taxes; legislative auditor’s Orchestra report; elusive garden thief; and more.

We’re No. 3 … in sin! The real estate blog Movoto has done a no-doubt scientific survey of bad behavior and decided that for getting down and dirty only St. Louis ( … St. Louis???) and Orlando beat us: “[I]n order to make this ranking, we had to translate the sins into some criteria that makes sense for modern city living. That’s how we came up with the seven we ended up using:

  • Strip clubs per capita (Lust)

  • Cosmetic surgeons per capita (Pride)

  • Violent crime per year per 1,000 residents (Wrath)

  • Theft per year per 1,000 residents (Envy)

  • Percentage of disposable income given to charity each year (Greed)

  • Percentage of obese residents (Gluttony)

  • Percentage of physically inactive residents (Sloth)

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… For our final sin, sloth, we probably couldn’t have asked for a better criteria than the number of people who aren’t meeting government physical activity guidelines. Like our data on obesity, this information came straight from the CDC. Tulsa came out on top here (after struggling to get off the couch) with 32.4 percent of its residents labeled ‘inactive.’ Minneapolis, MN was second at 30 percent, while St. Louis, MO and Orlando, FL tied in third at 28.8 percent.”

This time the Dakotas really are sticking it to us … Stribber Adam Belz reports: “Over the past 10 years, Minnesota’s western tier of counties has been creating far fewer manufacturing jobs than its neighbors to the west. A big driver is the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. Fargo’s Cass County added 1,767 manufacturing jobs over the past decade, while Moorhead’s Clay County added only 46. Otherwise we’re not talking about big numbers here. As commenters have pointed out, most of Minnesota’s western border counties are sparsely populated, and the eastern tiers of North and South Dakota are their most populous areas.  Minnesota counties bordering North Dakota have increased manufacturing employment by 7.4 percent in the past decade, mostly in Polk County across the Red River from Grand Forks. North Dakota’s counties bordering Minnesota have increased manufacturing employment by 12.7 percent over the same period.”

MnSURE will begin offering access to information sometime this summer. Elizabeth Stawicki of MPR says: “A call center will be open later this summer to provide information to consumers about health plans, enrollment choices and procedures regarding MNsure, Minnesota’s new online health insurance marketplace. MNsure’s executive director April Todd-Malmlov says Minnesota looked at the best practices of other states to develop the call center. If a phone staffer called can’t answer a consumer’s question, the staffer will conduct a ‘warm transfer’ to someone who can.” Just model it after Apple tech support and we’ll be fine.

Better download your Troggs ring tone ASAP. Says the AP: “Come July 1 buying it will carry a Minnesota sales tax. Hiring a repairman for the office photocopier? That labor will be taxed. Catching a pay-per-view movie on satellite television? There’s a tax on that, too. The Minnesota Department of Revenue published guidance Thursday on an array of sales tax changes the Legislature adopted last month. Most take effect on July 1. … Digital downloads — from books to e-greeting cards to movies and songs — will be subject to the 6.875 percent sales tax.” That’s it! Wahpeton, here I come.

MPR’s Euan Kerr puts up the legislative auditor’s report on the use of state money by the Minnesota Orchestra. It says, “Based on the scope and objectives of our review, we reached the following conclusions: …
2.It is uncertain how much money the Minnesota Orchestral Association will be allowed to use from its 2013 Minnesota State Arts Board grant. It is also uncertain which costs may be paid with 2013 grant money. The terms of the grant agreement may allow the association to use money for costs it incurred during the time the Minnesota Orchestra did not perform due to the association’s “lockout” of the orchestra musicians. …
3.The payment process for the costs related to the Orchestra Hall renovation project included adequate internal controls to ensure that money appropriated from the Bond Proceeds Fund was used in accordance with applicable finance-related legal requirements. We did not identify any payments for costs that did not comply with applicable legal requirements.”

The GleanThe Strib’s Graydon Royce says: “The report, instigated at the request of 100 DFL legislators, also studied the testimony of orchestra president Michael Henson in 2010, as he sought the bonding money for the project. Legislators had expressed concerns that Henson gave too rosy a picture of the organization’s finances. At the time, Henson said the orchestra had balanced its budgets for the three previous fiscal years and was facing the economic downturn with stability. Financial reports showed that the orchestra had made $5 million in cuts and was drawing higher-than-normal funds from its endowment to balance those budgets. ‘While noting his testimony about the association’s financial condition was limited and generally positive, we do not offer a judgment about what Mr. Henson should have said or what legislators should have asked,’ the report said.”

Where’s Homeland Security when you need it?  Kim Palmer of the Strib says: “The thief strikes in the dead of night, when victims in the southwest Minneapolis neighborhood of Linden Hills are sleeping. Creeping quietly into fenced yards and porches, the intruder nabs prized possessions, then disappears before dawn. But instead of jewelry or electronics, this thief has an unusual specialty: gardens. Flowers, bushes, trellises and statues have been taken from at least a dozen boulevards and yards, causing losses of thousands of dollars and putting local business and homeowners on high alert. To thwart the as-of-yet elusive thief, some are taking elaborate steps — establishing an e-mail alert system, installing motion detectors and keeping watch at night.” Does The Castle Doctrine apply in this case?

It’s 24 years in the slammer for that epic hostage/rape episode last year. Kevin Giles of the Strib says: “A man accused of a shooting and raping spree in a Woodbury motel in August pleaded guilty Thursday to five felony counts and will serve at least 24 years in prison. Demetrius S. Ballinger, of North St. Paul, held 11 people hostage in the Red Roof Inn during an hours-long standoff with police on Aug. 31. Armed with a handgun, he shot Marc Eric Henderson, Jr., who was trying to escape, and committed sexual assaults on four teenage girls at gunpoint. … The 24 years of prison time would be extended if he doesn’t behave himself behind bars, County Attorney Pete Orput said.”

This in from Edina … Steve Alexander of the Strib says: “An Edina businessman has been sentenced to a year in prison for failure to pay $852,361 in taxes from 2008 to 2010. … Kim Robert Calkins, former co-owner of Princess Soft Toys, Inc. of Edina, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Paul after pleading guilty to one count of failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service the employment taxes that were withheld from his employees’ pay, the U.S. attorneys office said in a statement. In a related case in February, 2012, Calkins’ wife … was sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to five-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding Central Bank and 42 investors out of approximately $9 million.” That’s nice. A couple with a lot of common interests …