Violent stoners beware … the sheriff has his eyes on you. Talking with MPR, Hennepin County sheriff Rich Stanek continued his campaign against … pot. “Marijuana has clear connections to violent behavior, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Thursday, and he remains opposed to its legalization for recreational use. ‘I would not support it based on what I know today,’ he said on The Daily Circuit. ‘When I look at my jail and I see 40,000 people a year booked into the front doors, 54 percent of the ones booked for violent offenses are under the influence of marijuana when they commit those violent offenses — you know, I’ve got to take a step back and say, wait a minute. There is a direct correlation.’ Stanek wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune this week in which he criticized the federal government for its decision not to challenge the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington.” So drop the Cheetos and put your hands up …
As for that very large empty building in the middle of downtown St.Paul … Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “A California developer is interested in buying the former Macy’s in downtown St. Paul, officials said Thursday. City Center Retail, which developed the 800 N. Washington St. Tractor Works building in Minneapolis into a retail hub and home of Bar La Grassa, submitted a letter of intent to Macy’s in August, officials said. The company entered into a purchase agreement but has not closed on the sale. The St. Paul Port Authority worked with the city in hopes of submitting a $3.2 million bid for the vacant site but was beat out by the firm’s higher bid in August. … the structure provides a number of challenges, including the lack of interior light.”
A Minnesota nonprofit is in an expansion mode … Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib says: “The Jeremiah Program, which has helped more than a thousand Minnesota mothers and their children lift themselves out of poverty, is taking its formula nationwide. Thursday, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit will welcome its first clients in Austin, Texas, where it plans to build a campus in collaboration with local partners. This fall, it hopes to buy a parcel of land in Fargo, where it has been working with community groups to build the Minnesota model. It also is exploring a collaboration in Boston. That’s on top of a replica Jeremiah Program in Ohio that’s been up and running for years.”
And almost on the fifth anniversary … Brian Bakst of the AP says: “After nearly four years on the economic mend, Minnesota officials on Thursday hailed a ‘major milestone’ now that the state has surpassed the employment level it had prior to the Great Recession. A strong August that led to 12,200 jobs being gained pushed Minnesota over the employment peak it had in February 2008, which marked the start of a precipitous fall that cost the state more than 150,000 jobs across most industry sectors. ‘After 19 months of rapid decline and 47 months of modest growth we’re now 5,100 jobs above the prior peak,’ said Steve Hine, the research director at the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Labor Information Office.”
A victory for activists in a battle over frac-sand mining. At MPR, Stephanie Hemphill writes: “The state Wednesday stepped back from its draft standards designed to help local governments regulate frac sand mining. The Environmental Quality Board, an oversight group, listened to three hours of criticism from residents of southeastern Minnesota. Environmental activists complained that the draft standards were looser than some existing local rules, that they lacked scientific underpinnings, and that they would undermine local efforts to protect the environment. In the end, the board promised to re-write the document with a lot more public and industry input.”
Go, Mankato! Mark Fishenich of the Free Press reports: “Mankato’s economy grew faster than any other metropolitan area in Minnesota — a growth rate that was more rapid than all but 11 percent of metro areas nationwide in 2012, according to new statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The gross domestic product for the Mankato-North Mankato metro area grew 4.1 percent last year, the 43rd fastest growth rate among 381 metro areas nationwide. The local economic growth topped all others in the state, narrowly edging the 4.0 percent GDP growth in St. Cloud (50th nationally) and the 3.9 percent in the Twin Cities (55th). Rochester’s GDP increased 3.6 percent (67th fastest nationwide). … Mankato-North Mankato’s economic activity reached $4.3 billion in 2012, the 318th largest economy in America. The New York City metro area, with an economy of nearly $1.4 trillion, is the nation’s largest and the equivalent of nearly 350 Mankatos.”
Another blow to the shaky integrity of talk radio … Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “A one-time host of “Safe Money Radio” in western Minnesota has allegedly contradicted the show’s title by swindling nearly $2 million out of investors who said they had invested proceeds from the sale of their farms or life savings. Jeffrey C. Rodd, 49, of Redwood Falls, was charged this week in federal court with four counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud in connection with the scam that spanned more than three years. One of his alleged victims had limited mental capacity. In February, regulators with the state Commerce Department ordered Rodd to halt his scheme and fined him $300,000. The agency said Rodd’s victims included four elderly people, one of them with dementia, and others who said they turned over their entire life savings to Rodd, with some raising their investments by selling their farmland.” I’m guessing … “free market” guy.
The people who created Manhattan’s High Line have won out in the competition to rebuild the Nicollet Mall. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “James Corner Field Operations is perhaps most famous for their work on the High Line elevated walkway in New York City. They beat out two other design teams who competed for the project. ‘Almost 50 years ago, Architect Lawrence Halprin helped Minneapolis transform Nicollet Mall into Minnesota’s Main Street and the greatest street in America,’ Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak said in a statement. ‘Today, I’m confident that we’ve chosen the right team in James Corner Field Operations to transform what is now a very good street into the greatest street in America once again.’ ” Easy, Mayor … unless you’re going to go pedestrian-only.
And that poll showing that residents prefer insecticide treatment to chainsawing ash trees … ? Bill McAuliffe of the Strib says, “The poll, by Public Policy Polling, a frequent player in political campaigns, found that 76 percent of Minneapolis voters surveyed think the Park and Recreation board should not ‘clear-cut 40,000 otherwise healthy ash trees before Emerald Ash Borer kills them,’ and that 71 percent favor a strategy using ‘a small amount of insecticide sealed inside the tree trunk’. … A horticulture professor at the University of Minnesota, [Park Board chairman John] Erwin notes on his park board campaign website that he could favor the use of one type of organic pesticide, injected into trees, but a different one from that being touted by researchers and the tree care industry. … Another point on which Erwin and the poll respondents agreed: The board’s ash policy is likely to be a campaign issue. All nine of the park board seats are on the ballot.”