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Downtown East project: lots of Wells Fargo signage

Medical device tax gets attention; stowaway kid’s fate up to court; motions denied in Ventura case; juvenile to face adult charges in beating; early MNsure numbers;  Southwest LRT train troubles; and more.

And we do mean “branding” … Janet Moore of the Strib says: “No deal has been signed, but it’s pretty clear which company will dominate a big chunk of the Downtown East project. Renderings submitted to the city of Minneapolis on Wednesday show Wells Fargo’s name all over the proposed signage for the office portion of the project. Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. plans a new campus for a corporate client for five blocks on the eastern stretch of downtown now owned by the Star Tribune. … Documents submitted to the city in preparation for a Planning Commission meeting Thursday show several variations of Wells Fargo signage — from big signs on two office towers, to doors, ATMs and windows.” Is this in addition to mandatory corporate-branded windbreakers and hats for all employees?

While not part of the “deal,” the medical device tax is still getting a lot of attention. In the Los Angeles Times, Joseph Tanfani writes: “[I]ts prospects for longevity as part of Obamacare appear to be diminishing. The industry has waged a relentless campaign, powered by millions of dollars spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and appeals by manufacturers targeted to their representatives in Congress. The industry has also financed studies that claimed the tax would cost more than 43,000 jobs, though critics say those figures are inflated. … the industry never accepted the tax. Since 2008, it has spent about $30 million a year on lobbying, and ramped up contributions to federal campaigns, from $6.4 million in 2010 to $10.4 million last year, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of the money went to Republicans, but the industry also has been generous to key Democrats who have opposed the tax, including Sens. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota. Both states are also home to device manufacturers.”

On the stowaway kid … . Brandt Williams of MPR says: “A 9-year-old boy who stowed away on a flight to Las Vegas should continue living away from his home while he and his family receive counseling, a Hennepin County Juvenile Court judge decided Wednesday. The judge also ordered the county to do an evaluation to see if the boy can be placed with any relatives. He said the boy is not safe left in his parents’ care. In the meantime, the parents will be allowed nearly unrestricted contact with their son. … Attorney Robert Paule said an unnamed media organization had offered to pay the boy’s mother for an exclusive story. ‘I think we can all agree, none of this is in the best interests of the child,’ Paule said.”

Still a publicity magnet … . Randy Furst of the Strib says: “The skirmish in federal court over former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s military records ended abruptly Wednesday when U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan called off the battle. Boylan denied a motion to sanction Ventura for failing to produce documentation that he was in the U.S. Navy SEALs Navy reserves. … Boylan also denied a motion by Ventura’s attorney Court Anderson to require Taya Kyle to answer many questions she refused to answer in a pretrial deposition. Borger said the questions were ‘out of line.’ ”

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An adult crime gets adult standing … Matt Sepic of MPR reports: “A Ramsey County Juvenile Court judge has certified a 16-year-old boy to stand trial as an adult in the near-fatal beating of a St. Paul man last summer. Authorities have charged Cindarion De’Angelo Butler with first-degree assault and aggravated robbery. He also faces gang-related charges. Prosecutors say Butler was among the five people who attacked 26-year-old Ray Widstrand on Aug. 4 as he tried to walk past a street fight near his home on St. Paul’s East Side.”                                            

Enrollment numbers — sort of are out for MNsure. Catharine Richert of MPR writes: “Nearly 3,800 people are enrolling in a health insurance plan on MNsure, according to the new insurance marketplace’s executive director, April Todd-Malmlov. But some insurers dispute that number. They say no one has completed enrollment in their plans yet as MNsure has yet to send their companies any of the personal or payment information they need to issue health insurance policies. Most of those who have begun to enroll, or about 2,500 people, qualified for coverage through Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s Medicaid program. … Of the nearly 12,000 Minnesotans who got as far as completing the initial insurance application on MNsure, about 8,200 were eligible for coverage under a commercial health plan.”                                            

The Strib picks up a St. Cloud Times editorial on those personal seat licenses for the new Vikings stadium: “Officially known as stadium builders licenses for the Vikings, the concept was thoroughly discussed in 2011 legislative hearings and ultimately was part of the $975 million stadium deal that legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton approved. … it appears the Wilfs might have to tap less than $10 million of their own funds to cover the Vikings’ share of the stadium. Ultimately, though, the real message behind the Vikings’ PSLs is that attending NFL games is becoming more and more unaffordable for average Minnesotans. From the $5 pretzels to $20 parking to $7 beers, it’s easy to see how the average NFL gameday experience costs each fan more than $100, according to Team Marketing Research. And starting in 2016, PSLs will add even more to that cost for Vikings fans.” That’s just silly. You can’t put a price on feeling “major league.”

Steve Elkins of the Met Council explains … in detail … the problem with the freight-to-St. Louis Park problem with the Southwest LRT: In the Strib, he writes: “The nub of the issue is that the east-west rail line lies 26 feet below the north-south rail line at the point where the lines intersect in St. Louis Park. Since freight-rail trains can handle a grade of no more than 2 to 3 percent, the east-west tracks would have to begin their ascent about a mile to the west. Once the grade change had been negotiated, the design that all of the parties had originally envisioned would have called for eastbound trains to make a left turn to merge onto the north-south line, which then turns to the right, then back to the left, before straightening out and heading gradually downhill as the line moves north. … what no one had focused on, until the Met Council’s designers inherited the project and began detailed, three-dimensional engineering, is that freight trains cannot simultaneously negotiate undulations of these magnitudes in the horizontal, vertical and longitudinal dimensions without placing dangerous levels of stress on both their couplings and their wheels that would create an unacceptable risk of decoupling or derailment.” Now you know.

The Replacements are on the list of nominees for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. In The Guardian, Erin McCann writes: “[T]he real process … involves 600 voters narrowing down the 16 nominees to a final list of inductees, who will be announced in December. Then they’ll all gather in April for a big concert in New York, and the music industry will spend an evening applauding itself. Half of this year’s list are first-time nominees: Nirvana, Ronstadt, [Peter] Gabriel, Hall and Oates, the Replacements, Yes, Link Wray and the Zombies. Repeat nominees are: Kiss, LL Cool J, NWA, Cat Stevens (who would be inducted under his earlier performing name, instead of Yusuf Islam), Deep Purple, The Meters, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Chic. Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record, and while the voting process officially considers musical impact and contributions, let’s call it what it really is: a popularity contest.” Oooo. Good luck beating the Zombies.