Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Arrowhead region leads real-estate boomlet

Judge orders unsealing in Buford Rogers case; Zipcar out, Hourcar in at U of M; PCA reports on nitrate pollution; and more.

The real estate boomlet continues … . Jim Buchta of the Strib writes, “Statewide home sales got a boost last month from buyers of second homes and lakeshore properties in the most remote corners of the state. The Minnesota Association of Realtors said Monday that sales jumped 4.5 percent from last year to 8,125, the highest level since 2010. Home prices also increased nearly 14 percent to $185,500. … The Arrowhead region posted the best results statewide with a nearly 30 percent increase in sales. The seven-county region includes communities in the Iron Range and along the North Shore of Lake Superior that are popular with second-home buyers … .” They look so idyllic … in July.

There are some familiar names on the new board for the huge Rochester redevelopment project. Tom Scheck of MPR reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton announced today his appointments to an eight-member board that will make spending decisions about the state’s contribution to Mayo Clinic’s  expansion plan, what his office calls the ‘state’s largest-ever economic development project.’ Dayton appointed his own chief of staff, Tina Smith; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; Rani Engineering President Susan Rani; and former Wells Fargo CEO Jim Campbell to the Destination Medical Center Board of Directors. The Mayo Clinic also announced today that it has appointed former Medtronic CEO Bill George to the board. The board will determine how $455  million in state money will be spent for development projects in the greater Rochester area.”

New news on Buford Rogers of Montevideo. Randy Furst of the Strib says, “The May raid on a Montevideo home was prompted by a witness who said Buford “Bucky” Rogers was involved in a plot to bomb the Montevideo police station, a communications tower and a National Guard armory, an FBI agent testified Tuesday. The testimony came in a hearing in federal court for Rogers, 24, who was indicted after the raid on his father’s mobile home. U.S. Judge Jeanne Graham also ordered the unsealing of six documents in the case at the request of the Star Tribune. Graham sealed the documents July 11 at the request of Rogers’ defense attorney Andrew Mohring. But on Tuesday she said she found the arguments to seal the documents ‘not sufficient.’ ”

Talk about a slow news week … bear research is in the headlines. Up in Duluth Sam Cook of the News Tribune writes, “Famed Minnesota bear researcher Lynn Rogers remains under orders to remove radio collars from bears he’s studying by the end of the month, but he will be allowed to appeal the state order. Rogers met Monday with Gov. Mark Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr to discuss the revocation of his DNR permit. Typically, Landwehr said, there is no appeal from that kind of decision, but Landwehr has decided to let Rogers present his case to an administrative law judge. ‘I do want an opportunity to present our side,’ Rogers said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.”

Article continues after advertisement

Zipcar, we hardly knew ye … . Stribber Tim Harlow says, “Zipcar is out at the University of Minnesota, and Hourcar is in. Hourcar recently won a two-year contract to provide car-sharing service at the U starting Aug. 1, said Steve Sanders, alternative transportation manager at the U’s Parking and Transportation Services. Twin Cities-based Hourcar already has 2,000 members in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Its expansion into the University of Minnesota area is a natural fit since about 25 percent of Hourcar’s users are students, said spokeswoman Mary Morse.”

Nitrate pollution into Minnesota’s rivers … and rivers beyond is a serious problem. At MPR Mark Steil reports, “According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study released in June, farmland is the source for 70 percent of the nitrates in state surface waters. That means state farmers will have to make changes if nitrate pollution is to be reduced, said [Dave] Wall, who helped prepare the study. ‘We’re looking at a long-term horizon, of making changes on millions of acres,” said … Wall, an MPCA hydrologist.     Major change is important because fertilizer runoff from farm fields in Minnesota and other Midwest states is a major cause of the biological void where the Mississippi River reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is expected to have another large ‘dead zone’ when the annual measurement is released later this month.”

The little kid who died in the locked trunk of a car in Wisconsin probably didn’t suffer too long. John Brewer of the PiPress writes, “The sheriff … shared an email from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office on how long the 2-year-old likely sat alone in the trunk before he died. ‘It can be said that the changes to Isaiah’s body were consistent with him dying soon after the time he was last known to be alive,’ Dr. A. Quinn Strobl wrote, noting how quickly and intensely a sealed car can heat up. Isaiah was last seen by his family about 6:30 p.m. July 16. ‘It is most likely that Isaiah was deceased, or had experienced irreversible damage, by 9 p.m. … .”

Veteran attorney Andy Luger is in line for a new job. Kevin Diaz of the Strib says, “Twin Cities criminal defense attorney Andrew Luger was nominated Tuesday to become the next U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, replacing B. Todd Jones, who has been named by President Obama to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Luger’s nomination comes as Senate Republicans signaled that they might not block Jones, whose management style and gun control views came under sharp questioning in congressional hearings. Luger, a former assistant U.S. attorney and DFL candidate for Hennepin County Attorney, was recommended by U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar … .”

The case of the Drug Recognition Expert program giving pot to Occupy protesters has always been a head-slapper. It still is. Dave Hanners of the PiPress writes, “Cops from around the state used Occupy Minneapolis protesters as human guinea pigs in a drug program, and if that doesn’t violate a person’s constitutional rights, little does, an attorney told a federal judge Monday. ‘Our playing field is they used these kids as things, they used them as guinea pigs,’ plaintiff’s attorney Alan Milstein told U.S. Magistrate Franklin Noel. ‘They used them as means to an end, and that’s wrong.’ Milstein was opposing a request by several county sheriffs and police departments, including Ramsey County, to throw out a lawsuit filed by six Twin Cities residents who say they were given drugs by police so officers could evaluate how a person behaves when they are under the influence. The state used the so-called Drug Recognition Evaluators, or DRE, program at Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis in early 2012, asking for volunteers among people camped there for the Occupy Minneapolis movement.”