Talk about the elephant in the room … Brandt Williams of MPR reports: “Some members of the Minneapolis City Council asked pointed questions Wednesday about the city’s new system of investigating civilian complaints against Minneapolis police officers. The city recently released a report that found that out of more than 300 complaints filed so far, none of the cases reviewed by chief Janee Harteau has resulted in disciplinary action. In many cases the complaints were dismissed because the allegations lacked merit. … Michael Browne directs the Office of Police Conduct Review. Browne said under the new system, civilian and police supervisors review incoming complaints. He says officers mentioned in many of the complaints are given coaching.” In what? Epithets?
Here’s another reason why that Southwest LRT tunnel idea is most likely toast. Laura Yuen of MPR reports: “Officials representing five Twin Cities counties issued a stern signal today about the escalating costs of the planned Southwest Corridor light-rail project between downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Calling the costs ‘ridiculous’ and ‘unacceptable,’ the officials said they couldn’t support a project with a price tag that has grown by hundreds of millions of dollars in recent months. … That frustration was shared by Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, whose area includes working-class suburban neighborhoods in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. He said the project is spending extraordinary amounts of time and energy to appease wealthy neighbors in Minneapolis.” Yeah … and what’s your point?
Good idea. Wiki the dang thing … Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “Gov. Mark Dayton believes Minnesotans should be able to see the detailed review he has requested of the Minnesota Vikings stadium financing.‘I think it should be public,’ Dayton said on Wednesday. The state plans an investigative audit of the Vikings owners’ financing of the $1 billion publicly subsidized project in the wake of a New Jersey civil court’s findings that the Wilf family, which owns the Vikings, committed fraud in a long-running real estate case. Dayton said he wants the audit to make sure that there is ‘absolute, airtight guarantee that they have the financial wherewithal to meet their obligations.’ He also said that he wants to make sure, given the New Jersey decision, that the Vikings’ representations of what they would pay are based on ‘accurate information.’
This one is a headline writer’s dream come true. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says: “The Trouble Number for Bob Walker just keeps rising. Walker, founder of the company that makes the Sleep Number bed, has been arrested and accused by the FBI of witness tampering in connection with an investment fraud case involving his most recent business, a clean coal venture called Bixby Energy Systems. Walker continued raising funds for the venture over the last year despite the fraud case pending against him, according to a complaint filed Monday in federal court in St. Paul. The complaint also accuses Walker of tampering with a government witness by sending false information by e-mail.”
There’s a report for everything, and the latest offers info about developers and companies planning around the expanding LRT system. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “The 103-page study points to a ‘pent-up demand for transit access in the Twin Cities metropolitan region.’ It also recommends ways to make it easier for developers and employers to select sites that encourage living-wage jobs and mixed-income housing near transit. The research team, led by Yingling Fan, an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School, found that skilled young professionals are gravitating toward urban living and easy access to transit. The study, however, cites ‘regulatory barriers, cost issues, and uncertainty surrounding future development of transit’ as discouragements to developers and businesses. Single-use zoning, low density limits, and high parking minimums make development along transit too expensive and discourage a mix of residential, office and commercial uses, it continues.”
If only people watched their blood pressure as closely as the housing numbers du jour … Jim Buchta of the Strib reports: “Two monthly reports, one for Minnesota and one for the U.S., show double-digit annual increases in sales and home prices, and solid declines in average market times. All of this is a continuation of what’s been happening for the past 18 months. Here’s the latest from the Minnesota Association of Realtors:
Closings: 8,100, + 13.4%
Median sales price: $183,500, + 13.3%
Average days on market: 70, -21.3%.”
Somewhat related … Another Jennifer Bjorhus piece: “Wells Fargo & Co. has notified 161 people in its Minneapolis mortgage operation that their jobs will end in 60 days. The bank made similar notifications in other cities. Altogether, Wells Fargo is cutting another 2,323 mortgage jobs as higher interest rates eat into the big business the bank has done refinancing home loans. The latest trims affected more employees than Wells Fargo’s other recent cuts as it adjusts its giant mortgage operations to a slowing mortgage scene. … Bank spokeswoman Peggy Gunn said the bank is ‘reducing staff to better align and increase the efficiency of our organization.’ ” Does this mean they’re laying off the robo-signers, too?
The AP says: “A woman charged in a synthetic drug conspiracy that authorities have blamed in the overdose deaths of two teens in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota has been sentenced to three years of probation. The sentence handed down to 23-year-old Allyson Desantos in federal court in Fargo is the lightest so far in the case that has seen seven others sentenced to prison terms ranging from a little over a year to more than 12 years.”
Mother Strib approves of the “controversial” Paul Bunyan ads. In an editorial, she sayeth: “The campaign has garnered mixed reviews on social media, but its light touch with a complicated, often daunting subject should be welcomed. The spots have the campy appeal of the Minnesota State Fair’s long-running ad campaign. They also drive home an important message as the ACA’s opponents decry it as a federal takeover of health care: The MNsure exchange was built by Minnesotans for Minnesotans. … While consumers who don’t want to use MNsure can still buy insurance elsewhere, the tax credits are available only through the exchanges. This assistance is a compelling reason to use MNsure — one that consumers should check out carefully now that they’ve heard the quirky pitch from two north-woods icons.”