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Archdiocese to control task force’s access to information

Greater Minnesota parks group weighs Legacy grants; incarcerated sex offenders now can marry; financial value of solar power studied; Palace Theatre restration planned; Best Buy holiday ads; and more.

Uh, “controlling access” would seem to be pretty close to the nut of the problem … Tom Scheck and Madeleine Baran of MPR report: “A task force created to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will only have access to information provided by a church official. The task force will not investigate allegations against specific priests, and priest files will not be made public, according to an Oct. 21 letter to clergy by the Rev. Reginald Whitt. Whitt, chosen by Archbishop John Nienstedt to create the task force, will control the panel’s access to information about clergy abuse. ‘Access to these files will be within my control, and limited only to what is necessary for the Task Force to be able to make an informed decision with respect to their policy review,’ he wrote.” Is the ecclesiastical definition of “clueless” the same as in the lay world?

The commission met for the first time … Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR says: “The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission was set up by the Legislature to improve the process of allocating the Legacy parks money. Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed local officials and citizens from outside the seven-county Twin Cities metro area to the commission. They’ll work on a master plan and will give the Legislature recommendations on which greater Minnesota parks and trails should receive grant money. Earlier this year, state lawmakers agreed parks in greater Minnesota should receive 20 percent of the parks funds. The other 80 percent is split evenly between Twin Cities area parks and the state park system, managed by the Department of Natural Resources.”

Barbara Reyelts of KBJR-TV up in Duluth says: “Incarcerated sex offenders, in the Minnesota treatment program, can now get married under a just–released state plan. The State Department of Human Services says clients, with a valid marriage license, may hold a marriage ceremony at the Minnesota Sex Offender facility. At least six pairs of men in the Moose Lake sex offender treatment center have asked to be allowed to marry since Minnesota passed the same sex marriage law. The policy says the men are responsible for making all arrangements to secure the necessary documents, and for paying all fees and expenses relating to the licenses and the ceremony itself. … Even after sex offenders in the program are legally married, they still can’t live together in the same room.” Can they cuddle and watch Hugh Grant movies?

New term of the day … “Value-of-solar tariff.”  Dan Haugen at Midwest Energy News says: “Karl Rábago could be called the grandfather of the value-of-solar tariff, but the concept is so new that ‘young parent’ might be a more apt moniker. The basic idea is that instead of paying customers with solar panels the retail electricity rate for their surplus power, utilities should pay a price that reflects the true value of solar to the grid. That could include added value for reducing congestion or generating during peak hours when power is most expensive. … Minnesota is the first state attempting to establish a value-of-solar tariff, and Rábago believes his baby is in good hands. The state is about halfway through a months-long stakeholder process that will determine the guidelines for calculating solar’s value in the state.”

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Garrison Keillor tried and couldn’t pull it off … At MPR, photographer Jeffrey Thompson puts together a series of shots of the Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul, which the city plans to spend $12 million restoring.

At the PiPress, Frederick Melo writes: “The long-vacant Palace Theatre, a former downtown St. Paul movie theater and vaudeville stage, could reopen in 2015 as a midsized concert hall under the same management that runs the popular First Avenue music venue in Minneapolis. To wipe clean a decade of mothballs and get 3,000 concertgoers on the floor, city and state officials will need to find $12 million and restore the 1915 theater to its former glory. … If the city can come up with the funding, the club would fill a void in the Twin Cities music scene, which lacks stages for acts that are too big for First Avenue (capacity: 1,600) and too small for Roy Wilkins Auditorium (capacity: 5,000), said promoter Jerry Mickelson of Chicago-based JAM Productions. With floor seating removed and a lobby wall torn out, the Palace Theatre could hold an audience of about 3,000, a boon for nearby bars and restaurants that benefits from concert events.”

This year’s star power for Best Buy holiday shopping ads? David Phelps of the Strib says: “Best Buy is employing … actors Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph. But the elephant in the TV spot is and other online retailers as Best Buy attempts to counter the ‘showrooming’ phenomenon where customers shop the stores but order goods online. … The 15-, 30- and 60-second spots began running during Sunday’s World Series game and will continue until Dec. 24. The ads, created by CP&B, Best Buy’s agency of record, are stylishly done. In one, Arnett sits in a comfy chair reading verses from an oversized book that mimics the holiday standard ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’ The TV ads tout the successes of shopping at Best Buy either in the store or on the Richfield-based retailer’s websites.”

Today in Strib endorsements: Wards 5 and 6. “Fifth Ward … Residents are fortunate to have a good field to choose from. Of the group, we give attorney Ian Alexander, 36, the edge. … Sixth Ward: This south-of-the-loop ward is made up of the Stevens Square, Whittier, Phillips West, Elliot Park, Cedar Riverside, Seward and Ventura Village neighborhoods. Since 2001, all or part of those areas have been well-represented by Robert Lilligren, 53. He merits re-election.”

The answer, apparently, is: “Yes, but it is still art.” The question, asked by City Pages’ Sheila Regan is, “Is This a Joke?”:  “If you go to see “9 Artists,” the international group exhibition at the Walker Art Center curated by Bartholomew Ryan, there may be a few moments when you say to yourself, “Was that supposed to be some sort of joke?” In a number of cases the answer will be, “No, it wasn’t a joke. The artist was being absolutely serious.” But not always. There is some vastly outlandish work in the show, and some of it is certainly provocative; sometimes wonderful, sometimes horribly wrong, but always very out there. One of the most bizarre rooms features the work of expressionist artist Bjarne Melgaard. In this installation, he presents a series of photographs by Johannes Worsoe, called The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche named Austin, capturing Melgaard’s comings and goings in his studio, around town, and with various people. The photographs act as a kind of mock documentary, except it really depicts Melgaard’s life. However, it does so in a way that pokes fun at the idea of celebrity and reality television.” So … sort of a satire on phenomena that have exceeded self-parody?