So the public park in front of The People’s Stadium will have two busy streets running through it? Nick Woltman of the PiPress says: “[R]epresentatives of local developer Ryan Cos. told [Minneapolis Planning] commissioners they were no longer looking at closing Park and Portland avenues as part of a $400 million mixed-use development in the city’s downtown. Ryan’s original proposal had called for closing the two streets as part of a two-block public park, which raised concerns among city and Hennepin County officials. … Collins said Ryan analyzed four different scenarios under which Park and Portland could be modified to reduce the flow of traffic as part of an alternative urban areawide review study, but ultimately decided to scrap all of them.”
“Several mistakes related to finance” is the way they put it. An AP story says: “The government panel that’s managing construction of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium made several mistakes related to finances in its first few months of operation, according to a state audit released Thursday. … The report from Minnesota’s legislative auditor covers financial operations from August to December 2012. It found that the authority incorrectly classified about $833,000 from the Vikings for stadium construction as operating income, in violation of accepted accounting practices. The auditor also found that the authority failed to properly verify net profits reports from the vendor that managed concessions at the Metrodome.” Hmmm. Just a minute. No. No, I don’t see anything about failing to extract a significantly larger contribution from the NFL.
Speaking of stadiums … Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “St. Paul said today it’s getting an extra $1 million in state money for a new $63 million Lowertown Ballpark, and the city is chipping in a little extra up front for maintenance to make sure the place is up to snuff when it opens. … Other new details: Although the Saints are responsible for maintaining the park, the city is putting in an extra $75,000 for the first three years for groundskeeping to see that the new park gets a quality start. St. Paul also is giving the Saints the first $500,000 worth of naming rights fees. Above and beyond that, the proceeds will go to pay back the internal $5 million loan that the city is using to close the $9 million funding gap that cropped up earlier this year.”
There’s still life in wind … Dave Shaffer of the Strib reports: “Minnesota utility regulators on Thursday approved Xcel Energy’s plan to add four Upper Midwest wind farms that will boost its wind power capacity in the region by 42 percent. The decision by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) clears the way for Minneapolis-based Xcel and two energy development companies, including Geronimo Energy of Edina, to push ahead with the goal of meeting deadlines to secure lucrative federal tax credits. Regulators rejected a request by other wind energy interests to extend the review process on the four projects in Minnesota and North Dakota.”
Related … Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR writes: “A federal judge could soon decide the fate of Minnesota’s six-year-old renewable energy law, which North Dakota officials say is an unconstitutional overreach. North Dakota filed a lawsuit two years ago challenging Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, which the Legislature passed and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed in 2007. Besides mandating energy conservation measures and setting a goal that 25 percent of energy used in the state should come from renewable sources by 2025, the law prohibits utilities serving Minnesota from importing additional power unless any additional carbon dioxide emissions are somehow offset.”
The bar is set pretty low … . Paul McEnroe of the Strib reports: “The Minnesota Department of Corrections has hired a new firm to oversee medical care in state prisons, severing a 15-year relationship with a corporation that became the target of lawsuits and staff complaints alleging substandard care. Since 2000, under Corizon Health Inc., the state prison system has had at least nine inmate deaths and numerous injuries related to poor and delayed care, according to a 2012 Star Tribune investigation. Although Corizon was the lowest of three bidders, the department said Thursday that it has signed a two-year contract with Centurion Managed Care.”
$30 million for 13 deaths … Martin Moylan at MPR says: “Boston Scientific has agreed to pay $30 million to settle federal charges that a business unit it acquired previously sold defective heart devices. The government charged Guidant, a Minnesota company Boston Scientific acquired in 2006, with selling devices between 2002 and 2005 that the company knew to be flawed. As of 2010, at least 13 deaths were blamed on failed units and others were seriously injured. … ‘[Patients] received that Guidant defibrillator assuming that they were getting a high-quality device,’ said Jeanne Cooney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. ‘In fact, they were given in some instances — and this was known to Guidant — a device that actually became ineffective.’ ” Do the salesmen get to keep their commissions?
In the Strib, Lisa Myers McClintick delivers a mini-reverie on the return of the sandhill cranes: “A few hundred sandhill cranes roost by the water — a sight that’s been on my autumn bucket list for years. We pause a few minutes, roll up the windows to ward off the chill and marvel at the cranes’ amazing comeback. In the mid-1940s, their numbers were down to about two dozen nesting pairs in the whole nation. In the past 10 years, they’ve made enough of a surge here and across the country that Minnesota even allows some crane hunting in the northwestern part of the state. Thousands of the greater sandhill species, standing almost 5 feet tall apiece, gather at the refuge on their way to Florida and Georgia’s Gulf Coast before the snow flies. ‘Last year we had a peak of 6,700 cranes,’ [wildlife biologist Tony] Hewitt says. ‘The year before, it was 7,600.’ ”
Don’t mess with the Park. Laura Yuen of MPR writes: “Elected officials who huddled with Gov. Mark Dayton this week to postpone a crucial vote on the beleaguered Southwest light rail proposal have called the delay a path forward that could ultimately save the project. But city leaders in St. Louis Park are feeling snubbed and ‘extremely disappointed.’ ‘St. Louis Park leaders and its legislators should have had a place at that meeting before an announcement was made that more than a decade of study and two years of hard work by the Corridor Management Committee and the Metropolitan Council staff to reach a freight rail conclusion was being set aside,’ Mayor Jeff Jacobs wrote in a letter today to Dayton.”