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Authorities back-pedal fast from Southwest LRT tunnel idea

Ex-Washburn star athlete charged; Clancy’s Vikings bid revisited; WIC program gets short shutdown reprieve; Vänskä successor a puzzle; and more.

Uh, ignore those architects behind the curtain … On that Southwest LRT tunnel idea-thingie, Pat Doyle of the Strib says: “Metro leaders backed away from approving a plan to spend more than a hundred million dollars to hide the Southwest Corridor light-rail line in tunnels through a recreation area in Minneapolis. Wednesday morning’s hesitation by a panel of metro mayors and county officials followed a blistering attack on the plan from the city of Minneapolis, which wants to consider other options to rerouting freight train traffic out of Minneapolis to make way for the light-rail line. The inaction will delay the Metropolitan Council’s planned vote on the plan to at least Oct. 16. … The light-rail trains would emerge from the tunnels for about 1,000 feet to cross a bridge spanning a channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. About 220 light-rail trains daily would each spend about 20 seconds above ground or above water near the channel.”

He should have concentrated on football … Paul Walsh in the Strib says: “A 21-year-old North Dakota college football player who was a star athlete at Minneapolis Washburn High School has been charged with fatally shooting a man outside a Minneapolis bar over the weekend during a shootout between two groups of people, authorities said Wednesday. Cedric Chappell Jr. was apprehended Tuesday at Valley City State University. He remains held in the Barnes County jail pending his return to Hennepin County. He was charged earlier in the day with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in the death early Saturday of Willie J. Smith III, 22, of St. Paul, outside the Blue Nile Restaurant and Lounge. Upon his arrest, the junior wide receiver was suspended from the NAIA football team and the school, athletic officials said Wednesday.”

Instead, all that easy equity will go to Zygi Wilf … In USA Today, Chris Strauss, writing about the passing of novelist Tom Clancy, says: “Clancy almost added NFL owner to a resume that included novels, films, video games and even a minority investment in the Baltimore Orioles as part of Peter Angelos’ ownership group in 1993. Clancy submitted the winning bid to purchase the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 for a reported $200 million, but the deal ended up falling through after his divorce proceedings caused concern that he wouldn’t be able to provide his share of the purchase price. There were also concerns that Clancy’s proposed ownership group, which included current Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander, would possibly move the team to Houston, which had just lost the Oilers to Nashville.” Only $200 million … chump change.

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Keeping an eye on the effects of the federal shutdown … Kevin Diaz and Randy Furst of the Strib say: “Across Minnesota, the federal government shutdown abruptly cut short workdays for thousands of federal workers, turning routine errands into major headaches, creating insecurity at Social Services offices, and locking the gates at national parks and recreation areas just as fall colors are about to reach their peak. … In St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon, owners of the Liffey, Burger Moe’s, Tom Reid’s and the Eagle Street Grille offered a free beer to any federal worker who showed a valid government ID. ‘We want government employees to know we think they are all essential,’ said Kevin Geisen, owner of Eagle Street Grille.”

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Also … there may be a couple of weeks left in the WIC program. Paul Levy of the Strib says: “Minnesota’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides $2 million for food purchases each week for eligible families, will continue to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the federal shutdown for at least a few more weeks, it was announced Wednesday. … Nearly half of the babies born in Minnesota are involved in the program, officials said.” WIC is probably pretty low on the Tea Party’s list of “essential services.”

Be grateful it isn’t Dec. 2. Weather guy Paul Huttner at MPR says: “If this were winter, the weather headlines would be blaring talk about a foot of snow for parts of Minnesota, maybe two feet in some spots. No doubt about it, this system will develop into a wrapped up and powerful fall season storm. The storm track from Kansas toward the Twin Cities is favorable for pulling in plenty of Gulf moisture, and wringing it out as rainfall over Minnesota. There may be some accumulating snows on the far west side of the system in the Black Hills, Wyoming and Montana, but all major models indicate this system is just too warm for snow in Minnesota. It’s already raining in the Red River Valley today, and that rain will spread east into the Twin Cities by tonight.” In other words, you can leave the hoses out for another eight weeks …

The GleanI like maize and pemmican. Luke Runyon of KUNC-FM radio writes: “Walk through a health food store and you’ll find amaranth, sorghum, quinoa — heritage grains that have been staples around the world for generations. Americans are just discovering them. There’s another age-old grain that grows right here on the Great Plains: millet. The millet plant is drought-tolerant, and nutritionally it competes with quinoa, the protein-rich South American grain that American farmers are clamoring to grow. Millet, though, hasn’t quite taken off like quinoa has, thanks in large part to perception and production issues. On the surface, millet has many things going for it. It’s gluten-free … and high in protein. And it can be marketed to locavores: Colorado produces about half of the nation’s millet, with the rest largely coming from South Dakota and Nebraska.” Can you make high fructose syrup out of it?

Obviously if the sole, overriding issue for the Minnesota Orchestra is reducing costs, why bother caring? But MPR’s Cathy Wurzer chatted with Chicago-based “arts consultant” Drew McManus. A snippet:
CATHY WURZER: Can you imagine any high-profile candidate taking this [music director] job while the lockout is still going on?
McMANUS: No. Artist managers have a substantial amount of influence in the field on how these issues develop — whether or not their clients will express an interest in the job. Even if they (conductors) say their interest, they (managers) will say, ‘No, you don’t want to touch this with a ten-foot pole.’ Those people ultimately look out for their clients’ best interests. If they think that taking a job like this is ultimately going to hurt the individual’s career, they’ll definitely shy away from it. …
WURZER: What might the future look like for the Minnesota Orchestra based on what has transpired?
McMANUS: I see one of two possible scenarios. The musicians can fold, in which case they will accept whatever offer is on the table at that time. More musicians will likely have left by that point. And the organizations will kind of hobble itself back into performances, put as bright of a face on it as they possibly can. But it will undeniably be an unhappy place to work that will be nothing like what it once was.” Hey, it worked for newspapers!

“Lumberjack Days” needs a new name. Mary Divine of the PiPress writes: “What will take the place of Lumberjack Days, Stillwater’s annual summer festival? How about River Jam, Sawmill Days, Stillwater River City Days or the Spirit of Stillwater Celebration? Those are the names three finalists pitched this week to the Stillwater City Council. Companies were asked to submit proposals for an annual three-day event beginning next summer ‘that would appeal to the greater Stillwater area, but not to ignore the metro area,’ said Community Development Director Bill Turnblad.” Well, if it’s a celebration, how about “No Longer in Michele Bachmann’s District Days”?