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Big Dinkytown project gets Council backing

Luger poised to be Minnesota’s new U.S. attorney; Robert Street transit options; licenses for Teach for America; Dylan statue effort crumbles; stadium traffic plan; and more.

I hope you didn’t bet against this one … . Eric Roper of the Strib reports: “Calling it a referendum on density throughout the city, the City Council approved a controversial development Friday in the University of Minnesota’s Dinkytown neighborhood over the objections of vocal activists. The Council took the rare step of overturning a committee vote against rezoning for the project, siding with density advocates over some neighbors who said it would destroy the small business character of Dinkytown. They approved rezoning on a 9-4 vote. The project, proposed by Opus Development Company, features 140 apartments and ground-level retail. It would be built at 5th Street SE between 13th and 14th Avenues, on a plot of land that is now about 70 percent surface parking lots. Neighborhood activists organized a ‘Save Dinkytown’ effort to oppose the project, appearing at many city political conventions this spring.”  

PiPress columnist Ruben Rosario is obviously a fan of Andy Luger, poised to become the next U.S. attorney: “Quite a few folks in the Twin Cities legal and law enforcement community believe the 54-year-old Cresskill, N.J., native and married father of two will do a similarly terrific job if he gets the state’s top federal prosecutorial post. B. Todd Jones — finally confirmed this week as director of the much-beleaguered federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after a protracted, intensely partisan confirmation debate — will soon vacate the post. Luger, who doesn’t want to jinx what appears to be a shoo-in Senate confirmation weeks or months from now, declined to comment on the recommendation. Others did the talking for him. ‘Andy has the brain of a prosecutor, the heart of a social worker, and the soul of a warrior’, said James Dorsey, a close friend, a former Marine and a top civil litigator.”

Streetcars … on Robert Street?  Marino Eccher of the PiPress says: “Rapid bus service or even a streetcar line could be in the cards for Robert Street in the coming decade, according to transit plans under consideration for the corridor. Ramsey and Dakota County planners, along with a handful of cities, have been eyeing ways to bolster mass transit between St. Paul and its neighbors to the immediate south. On Sunday, the joint group pared the list of possible routes to two: a bus or streetcar line from downtown St. Paul to Mendota Road in West St. Paul, or a bus rapid-transit line along U.S. 52 down to Inver Grove Heights. The project is in its early stages, and any construction or completed route is years away.”

Despite strong head winds, Teach for America has been granted licenses. Christopher Magan at the PiPress says: “More Teach for America members are heading to Twin Cities classrooms this fall after the Minnesota Board of Teaching approved their temporary license applications. The board considered applications one by one from members set to teach in metro charter schools like St. Paul’s Higher Ground Academy and in Minneapolis Public Schools. All 15 were approved.”

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At MPR, Tim Post writes: “In previous year[s], Teach for America has easily obtained the variances. But the national organization is having a harder time in Minnesota this year. The state teachers union and others are questioning how well Teach for America prepares its trainees for the classroom. … Some education reform groups claim [Education Minnesota’s] dislike of Teach for America explains Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to veto $1.5 million of funding for the group this spring. After his veto, Dayton explained his decision in a letter, noting that Teach for America in fiscal 2011 reported its revenues nationwide exceeded its expenses by more than $50 million. With those financial resources, Dayton said he did not understand why the program needed a state grant. Teach for America and its supporters, however, contend the governor did so as a favor to the union, one of his biggest supporters.

Here’s MPR’s Tom Scheck’s take on last night’s GOP gubernatorial “forum”: “It’s the first time Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Orono businessman Scott Honour, state Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, and state Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, appeared on stage together. … the audience of several hundred Republicans, was focused on the issues important to them. They booed at the very mention of the Metropolitan Council, the federal health care law and funding for light rail transit. They also applauded when the candidates pledged to cut government spending. All four candidates said they would work to end or limit the Met Council’s authority, would not fund additional light rail projects and would work to repeal the MNsure – the state’s health insurance exchange.” That list of everything they won’t do, won’t fund and won’t build keeps getting longer and longer.

The GleanThe Kickstarter campaign for that 12-foot statue of Bob Dylan … kinda went nowhere. Dan Kraker of MPR says: “An effort to raise $159,000 to fund the completion of a giant bronze sculpture of Bob Dylan, to be placed in the songwriter’s hometown, has fallen well short of its goal. Tom Page, an artist from Cohasset, launched a campaign on the website Kickstarter on June 2. The plan was to create a 12 and a half foot tall version of the sculpture, with song titles and lyrics engraved on the coat. Page said he reached an agreement with the city of Duluth that if he raised the money, the city would commit to accepting the sculpture and finding a place to display it. But after two months on Kickstarter, the project only raised $15,425. Page said he’s not sure what he could have done differently.” Try losing the cape …

Also at MPR, Tim Nelson reports on a traffic plan for the Vikings new stadium: “MnDOT has released the very, very preliminary drawings of how they think they’re going to solve one of the traffic problems posed by the new Vikings stadium: how to get into Downtown East from westbound Interstate 94. … The plan is to change the freeway exit to bring traffic in on west bound, one-way 7th Street, where most motorists from the 5th Street exit wind up anyway. The city of Minneapolis also got $6.8 million in state Transportation Economic Development funds for the $9.7 million project. … The initial rendering has the I-94 freeway exit and the ramp from northbound Hiawatha Avenue/Highway 55 merging in midair over 35W before reaching the downtown street grid just north of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” … After which drivers perform a Triple Lutz …

Tommy Mischke is calling it quits. Nate Minor at MPR reports: “T.D. “Tommy” Mischke, the quirky and well-loved radio host, announced on his WCCO-AM show last night that he’s leaving the station. ‘This show tonight will be my last radio program,’ Mischke said near the beginning of his show. ‘I finally find myself coming to the end of what I can offer this medium. I suppose you can say I’ve reached the bottom of the tank creatively. And I have felt it coming for quite some time.’ Follow the link above to hear last night’s show. It’s the sound of a man who’s ready to move on. ‘It’s sad to some degree to come in and feel like your best shows are behind you,’ he said.” Tommy, do you have any idea how many people still on the air never had a “best show” in front of them?