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Enbridge says new 600-mile pipeline will create 3,000 jobs

New Orchestra firestorm; invasive species seem to be winning; State Fair limiting swine; charter science school closing; Wilfs’ legal-woes update; stadium contracts already locked in millions in spending; and more.

Well, 3,000 is what you would have to call “job creation.” Dave Shaffer’s Strib story says: “Enbridge Energy is finalizing plans to build a 600-mile pipeline to transport North Dakota crude oil to Superior, Wis., and soon will begin contacting Minnesota property owners along two proposed paths across the state. Although two proposed pathways across 11 northern counties are under review for the $2.5 billion Sandpiper Pipeline, an Enbridge official said Thursday that the company is leaning toward a route that runs through Clearbrook, Minn., sweeps around Park Rapids and then turns east. The $2.5 billion project would employ as many as 3,000 workers in Minnesota and North Dakota during construction that could start in late 2014, said Christine Davis, a community relations consultant for Calgary-based Enbridge.”

Classical music fan and blogger Emily Hogstad has sparked yet another firestorm within the protracted Minnesota Orchestra standoff. Eager to set up a fan site supportive of the musicians, she was startled to find that Orchestra management had long ago bought up the most likely domain names. On her blog, Song of the Lark, she writes: “I was doing a favor for some friends and looking up a domain name for an organization they were thinking of launching. But it turns out, the name they were curious about wasn’t available. Someone else had bought it. And it was a really absurdly specific one, too: … the Minnesota Orchestra was spending money (presumably, your money) in a concerted attempt to buy a domain name relating to “saving the orchestra.” (Implication: they knew a big persuasive chunk of people in the future would view their actions as destructive, and they knew they had to guard against those people.)” The appearance isn’t good.  

At NPR, Anastasia Tsioulcas reports: “To some prominent industry observers, the tactic seems antagonistic. Orchestral consultant Drew McManus posted his own on the situation today. In a post titled ‘So Much for Good Faith Bargaining,’ he wrote: ‘Perhaps unsurprisingly, most folks won’t be shocked to learn that the MOA was digging the proverbial trenches for a long term siege well in advance of talks officially breaking down. Simply put, it is a clear indication that the employer had little to no intention for negotiating in good faith.’ ” Orchestra management, however, says that they’re simply following common and widely accepted business practice, and don’t understand why Hogstad’s findings are attracting international attention and commentary.”

The president of the Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations says the invaders are winning. A Strib commentary by Tom Nelson says: “It is time to rethink the current approaches to stopping the spread. They just are not working. The original strategy was to educate boaters about invasive species and hope that they would take on the matter as their personal responsibility. Education and awareness was coupled with occasional inspections and decontaminations at infested lakes. That unsuccessful model must be replaced by new approaches to stop the spread of the species now in Minnesota and new species that, unfortunately, are at our doorstep.”

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In somewhat the same vein … . Lorna Benson at MPR reports: “The possibility that the swine virus could reappear in Minnesota has state health officials paying close attention to pigs and the people who show them. To lessen the chance that fair visitors will contract flu from pigs, the state Board of Animal Health is encouraging fairs to ban the practice of holding over some pigs after their competition has ended. … Most of the swine at the Minnesota State Fair this year will go home after 72 hours, said Beth Thompson, senior veterinarian for the Board of Animal Health. ‘If you have a sick pig coming in, it’s like a bunch of kindergarteners,’ she said. ‘The more time they spend together, the more that bug is going to pass amongst them.’ “

The School of Science is closing. Says Steve Brandt in the Strib: “The two-year-old charter school told parents in a letter Thursday that it will cease operations after an unfavorable ruling this month in a court dispute over lease payments with the Minneapolis school district. The ruling forced it to leave the district-owned Cityview school building. … The Minneapolis district, to which the charter would have paid the lease payments as landlord, unsuccessfully sued the Minnesota Department of Education to challenge that ruling, and later failed in an attempt to amend the law in the last legislative session.” Someone has to diagram that one for me.

The GleanAre you up on “eminent domain”? Mary Jane Smetanka of the Strib writes: “Minnesota law changed after a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling sided with a Connecticut city that condemned private property for redevelopment, displacing homeowners who in some cases had lived in their homes for decades. A public outcry followed, and many states rewrote eminent-domain laws. Minnesota law now limits government condemnations to public-use projects. ‘It’s pretty much roads, trails, sewer easements, things directly related to public infrastructure,’ said Sandra Johnson, Bloomington’s city attorney.”

Dateline: Morristown, N.J. … Mike Kaszuba of the Strib is on the Wilf legal woes scene: “The still-unfolding New Jersey case could be pivotal to the Minnesota review. Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson is expected to rule soon on whether the Wilfs’ net worth — which she will consider in awarding monetary damages — should be made public. While Zygi Wilf’s net worth was at one point estimated at $310 million by Sports Illustrated, the court documents could provide a far more specific figure. This week, during an otherwise tedious discussion of management fees, there was a new glimpse of how far the Wilfs’ real estate holdings stretch. Wilson said court documents showed the Wilfs had 30,000 to 50,000 apartment units, more than 100 other properties, two hotels — one of them in Israel — and a charter airline. And of course, she said, they own the Vikings.”

Meanwhile the feeding is getting ever more frenzied … Says Brian Bakst for the AP: “Even before ground is broken on a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, a white-collar brigade of accountants, architects, lawyers and other consultants has locked in millions of dollars in contracts that would complicate any effort to derail the project. Nearly two dozen contracts examined by the Associated Press reflect ample amounts already spent or committed to developing the $975 million downtown football stadium. They include engineering assessments that cost less than $10,000, a $25,000-a-month law firm retainer and a $34 million deal with a Texas-based architecture firm that’s deep in the design process. … Signed agreements reviewed by AP demonstrate a project at an advanced stage. And despite recent concerns over the legal troubles of the principal Vikings owners, even foes admit the stadium is nearing a no-turning-back point.” And what if the Wilfs relinquish ownership?