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City and Saints kick in to cover extra cost for Lowertown stadium

UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s second-quarter net income rises almost 8 percent; PUC to Great River Energy: Rethink coal-burning; insurgent restaurant ratings; and more.

The cash has been scraped together … again … for the Saints stadium in downtown St. PaulTim Nelson at MPR writes, “The $54 million project ballooned by $8.8 million this summer when experts discovered contaminated and unstable soil ran as much as two stories deep, much more extensive than the initial 8-foot estimate. That added $6.2 million to the cost. Additional design and construction costs tacked on the other $2.6 million. The city plans to use $2 million in contingency funds and a $6 million ‘internal loan’ to close that gap. The 7-member City Council is expected to approve the expenditure at its next meeting.

In return, the Saints have agreed to:

  • Contribute an additional $1 million up front.

  • Be financially responsible for operations and day-to-day maintenance costs at the ballpark.

  • Share a percentage of net revenue with the city.

  • Share profit with the city if the team is sold within 7 years.”

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People I Never Worry About … . The AP reports, “UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s second-quarter net income rose almost 8 percent, buoyed by steady enrollment growth and slower-than-expected use of health care services. The nation’s largest health insurer’s earnings topped Wall Street estimates on Thursday, and it raised the low end of its full-year earnings forecast. The company’s stock jumped nearly 6 percent. … The Minnetonka, Minn., company earned $1.44 billion, or $1.40 per share, in the three months ended June 30. That’s up from $1.34 billion, or $1.27 per share, a year earlier. The company beat the average beat the average Wall Street estimate by 15 cents … .” I knew they could do it.                                            

The Public Utilities Commission is being direct about it. Re-think coal-burning. The AP story says, “Minnesota regulators have told Great River Energy to rethink its dependence on burning coal to generate electricity. The unusual decision by the Public Utilities Commission has no immediate impact on the power supplier, but it’s another step in the transition toward using more renewable energy in the state. Three of the five PUC commissioners voted Wednesday to reject the long-range business plan for Minnesota’s second-largest power company, mainly because it did not consider whether to close one or more of its coal plants. Environmental groups and some major customers accused the utility of making bad investments in new fossil fuel plants, which helped drive up rates 58 percent over the past seven years. Maple Grove-based Great River Energy provides wholesale electricity to local co-ops in Minnesota and Wisconsin that serve nearly 1.7 million people.”

The state’s unemployment rate? Down again. John Welbes at the PiPress says, “Minnesota employers added just 400 jobs in June while the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent, its lowest point since May of 2008. The small gain was attributed to seasonal factors. Although the state has seen significant job gains in the past year, the uneven nature of the economic recovery continued last month, as several employment sectors reported job losses. Also, 5,200 fewer Minnesotans were in the labor force in June compared with May.”

The possible unionization of home day-care workers is in the hands of the judge. In Brian Bakst’s AP piece he says, “Judge Michael Davis … said at a hearing Thursday that he would rule quickly on whether to halt the drive. Minnesota lawmakers authorized the union-organizing effort earlier this year, but opponents asked Davis to put the law on hold. The proposed union would cover some 12,700 providers who take care of children who are subsidized by the state. Doug Seaton, the attorney for a group of day care operators trying to block the union drive, said an election appears imminent and argued that it may be impossible to unravel its result. But state Solicitor General Alan Gilbert said a pair of lawsuits challenging the law is premature, arguing that those suing can’t prove harm from a process that has yet to fully play out.

The GleanAn game show was shot at Target Field recently. Mark Newman of the baseball site says, “ … the 50th episode of the hit game show ‘Bucks on the Pond’ was posted on Thursday. The ‘50 Bucks’ show was taped at Target Field in Minnesota, making it 24 MLB parks visited so far, and this one stars four Twins fans who were only happy to be part of a baseball milestone. ‘It’s exciting to be a part of your history in the making,’ said contestant Lauren VanOverbeke, who will be teaching middle-school science back in Oakdale this fall. She is joined in this episode by friends Emily Cox of Mission, S.D.; Emily Werness of Rosemount, Minn.; and Bethany Mann of Minneapolis. … has doled out $17,945 to fans in this series, and you’ll have to watch the latest episode to see whether some of those bucks went to the Twins fans … .”

The little kid missing in Wisconsin was found … in the trunk of a car. Reports John Brewer of the PiPress, “Polk County Sheriff Peter Johnson said Thursday that searchers had looked into and around the car for Isaiah Theis several times but had been told the trunk was locked before the boy went missing. Searchers considered it unlikely that he could have been in the trunk, the sheriff said. At about 10 p.m. Wednesday, the owner of the car arrived at the scene to remove it. A sheriff’s deputy opened the trunk before he left and discovered the boy’s body. ‘The death of an otherwise healthy 2-year-old boy requires a complete and thorough investigation as to any possible cause, whether that cause is accidental or criminal,’ Johnson wrote in a news release. ‘At this very early stage of the investigation, the cause and manner of death is unknown.’ “

In the “Miscellaneous” section of Vita.Mn’s “Best of” list … . “Best bathrooms. Bathrooms are a gamble. Bathrooms in college neighborhoods? Don’t even get us started. Somehow, Dinkytown was blessed by the toilet gods with three bathrooms on the same block that break the mold, and by toilet gods we mean the geniuses behind the plumbing at the Kitty Cat Klub (315 14th Av. SE., Mpls.), the Varsity Theater (1308 SE. 4th St., Mpls.) and the Loring Pasta Bar (327 14th Av. SE., Mpls.). Shouldered on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota campus and sharing close quarters with some of the grossest pit stops in the world, the winning triumvirate boasts equally ornate, unconventional and luxe restrooms. They’re the best places to take it easy in the Big Dink. S.H” No. 8 on the list? SuperAmerica.

An insurgent restaurant-rating system is up … and exposing dirty kitchens. At City Pages, Olivia LaVecchia writes, “in each of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., diners can check online to see if a food establishment racked up any code violations — like, say, mouse droppings in the kitchen — during its last inspection. Except, says Tony Webster, in Minneapolis. Webster, a locally-based open data researcher, decided to change that. In Minneapolis, the inspection results are public information, but accessing them requires putting in a data request with the city. That’s a considerable hoop to jump through before making a dinner reservation. So Webster did it instead. … The fully-searchable site indexes inspection information from May 2011 to May 2013 for every food establishment in the city — about ‘2,500 or 2,600,’ Webster says. Because 2012 is the only full year for which he has data, Webster used it as his benchmark. Each restaurant page features a blue box on the upper right that tallies up the establishment’s ‘critical’ violations for the year.”