Sept. 15 now appears to be the point of no return for the Minnesota Orchestra. In The New York Times, Michael Cooper writes: “Without a new contract agreement by then, the orchestra’s management said Wednesday, it will not be able to call the musicians back to work in time for them to prepare adequately for a pair of crucial concerts at Carnegie Hall in November. The orchestra’s music director, Osmo Vanska, has threatened to resign if the Carnegie concerts are canceled. Mr. Vanska said in the statement released by the orchestra on Wednesday that to be ready for the Carnegie Hall concerts, the musicians would need to be in rehearsal by the week of Sept. 30. The new deadline is actually a little later than the previous one. Mr. Vanska had written, in a letter to the orchestra’s board in April, that the orchestra would have to start work again by Sept. 9 ‘at the latest.’ ”
At the Strib, Graydon Royce writes: “Vänskä has said nothing about his plans since that letter, and management did not indicate Wednesday whether Vänskä remains committed to resigning if the concerts are imperiled. ‘Osmo is the only person who can answer that question,’ said CEO and president Michael Henson. Vänskä, music director since 2003, is widely cited as a key factor in the orchestra’s growing international reputation. … The timeline announced Wednesday arose from conversations among Henson, Vänskä and representatives of Carnegie Hall. ‘This was mutually agreed upon, but the main decision-maker is the music director,’ Henson said.”
Got a case to make for disaster aid? Now’s your chance. Brian Bakst of the AP says: “Local officials went before Minnesota lawmakers Wednesday night to detail storm damage to their communities in hopes of securing disaster assistance from a package the Legislature is preparing. A House-Senate working group sought the input as legislators shape a proposal due for votes in a Sept. 9 special session. Kris Eide, the state’s homeland security and emergency management director, told lawmakers that heavy storms in June caused an estimated $18 million in damage that the federal government will help defray. The state expects to pay $4.5 million and rely on federal aid for the rest.”
They’re not another invasive scourge … they’re cucumber … vines. Ashley Stewart of The Leader paper serving Blooming Prairie and Ellendale writes: “While driving along Interstate 35 or Highway 218 in Steele County and other parts of Minnesota, motorists might have noticed a number of pale green vines wrapping themselves around the forestry, but there’s no need to worry, University of Minnesota Extension officials say. The vines are neither dangerous nor invasive. The name? Wild cucumber. ‘It’s a native plant that some people consider a weed and others consider it a wildflower because of its white blossoming flowers, but it’s not invasive,’ said Angela Gupta, extension education, National Resource Management and Utilization with the University of Minnesota Extension, Rochester. But it is ‘very noticeable and flashier’ around this time of year, she said, because the flowers bloom in August.”
Expensive vandalism in St. Cloud. The Strib story, by Paul Walsh, says: “Diesel fuel at two gas stations, one in St. Cloud and another in Waite Park, were purposely contaminated in an act that not only ruined hundreds of thousands of dollars in the business’ fuel supply but damaged dozens of vehicles that filled up. … A total of 59 vehicles — some owned by the city of St. Cloud and others privately — have been affected by the tainted fuel, Feneis said. Primarily, the vehicles experienced loss of power as their exhaust systems started to fail. Police have estimated the harm done to the vehicles in the tens of thousands of dollars, while Feneis said his company had to dispose of 55,000 gallons of diesel valued at more than $200,000. He said his business has insurance on its losses.”
That Southwest LRT tunnel idea just keeps sounding worse and worse … Brandt Williams of MPR reports: “One of the proposed options for the Southwest Light Rail Transit line would destroy a huge swath of trees along the Kenilworth corridor of Minneapolis, a top planning official told members of the Metropolitan Council … If officials chose to use a shallow tunnel to fit the light rail line, exiting freight rail and bike trails through a narrow section of the corridor, about 1,000 trees would have to be removed to accommodate the 20-foot-deep trench and concrete cover, said Jim Alexander, the Council’s design and engineering director for the project.” Remember the Highway 55 oaks!
I’m guessing air conditioning will be a budget item next year … . Steve Brandt of the Strib says: “Worried about the health of students and teachers in stifling classrooms, Minneapolis school officials canceled classes Thursday and Friday in its 27 buildings without air conditioning. Wednesday’s decision came after three days of shuffling kids into cooler rooms or outside, ferrying water, Popsicles and ice into hot classrooms and feuding over where the limited number of fans should blow. Teachers were also tasked with watching the kids for sign of heat stroke, adding to the pressures of the first week of school.”
The hearing to quash Michael Brodkorb’s suit against the Senate was Wednesday. Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “Senate attorney Dayle Nolan said that lawyers for former Senate GOP communications chief Michael Brodkorb violated a judge’s order to keep the list private and then he bragged about it in the news media. Short of tossing the lawsuit, Nolan asked the judge not allow the list to be used in the upcoming trial and force the other side to pay the Senate’s legal fees caused by the incident. ‘What would be unjust is for Minnesota taxpayers to pay for this fiasco,’ Nolan said.” Wait a minute. Who’s paying Nolan?
If I have to lay eyes … much less read … another “Best of the Fair” food story … So here’s James Norton at The Heavy Table talking about the … worst of it:
“6. Portabella Mushroom Bites | $9 | Minnesota Wine Country These small, sad, rubbery mushroom parts riding atop crostini win our Minnesota State Fair Golden Fleece Award for Worst Value.
… 4. Hawaiian Dog | $5 | Pretzel Haus ‘The only Fair bite I actually had to spit out,’ writes John Garland. If you’re a fan of eating nasty, raw-tasting dough wrapped around terrible hot dogs and pineapple, but you don’t want your pineapple to taste too bright or fruit-like, you’ll love the Hawaiian Dog, a Hindenburg-like mistake of a dish that made everybody who tried it a little bit sadder.
… 1. Lobster Mac and Cheese | $9.50 | Oodles of Noodles There’s bad, and then there’s really bad, and then there’s Minnesota State Fair bad. Fair food can be wonderful, but it can also be the gastronomic equivalent of “The Phantom Menace”: bad concept, bad execution, big price tag. This dish is nefarious, too — it runs the classic State Fair con game of taking a small amount of a premium ingredient (in this case, lobster) and then gleefully ruining it, cackling and rubbing its hands together before stroking its long, thin mustache, tossing its cape over its face and vanishing into a mysterious fog.”
Dang. I had hopes for that one.