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Downtown East project: lots of Wells Fargo signage

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.’ ”

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.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/17/2013 - 08:11 am.

    I must be missing something

    A hugely profitable medical device industry that produces very expensive gadgets (vital to their recipients, of course, but overpriced, nonetheless) spends $150 million over the past 5 years, plus more millions of dollars in campaign contributions, to make… um… political hookers out of Minnesota’s U.S. Senators, and perhaps its House members, as well. All of this to avoid a tax of about 2%, if I remember correctly. That tax, of course, will have virtually no effect on the bottom line of the device producers, since its cost will be passed on to the individuals or insurance companies that actually pay the inflated prices of the devices in question.

    Various self-serving threats aside, there’s been no published evidence that said tax poses a credible threat to the profitability, much less the survival, of the medical device industry in either Minnesota or Massachusetts. They’re making money hand over fist, and will simply make more if the tax goes away. Seldom do we see in such blatant form the corporate bribery of government, not to mention bloated CEO compensation and the preservation of shareholder dividends — all at the expense of the public.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/17/2013 - 10:40 am.

      You’re not missing a thing, Ray.

      There is no ROI on investment that pays like money spent buying Representatives, Senators, and Federal regulators. Nothing comes even close !!

      Spend $150 million on political influence – and you get many billions in return.

      This industry’s corporations are massively profitable and operate in a world where hospitals and doctors cannot speak openly about its business ethics and practices due to confidentiality agreements. There is little, if any, price competition.

      “Consider the device division of Johnson & Johnson, which in 2012 had an operating profit of $7.2 billion. By the company’s own estimate, the device tax would amount to at most $300 million…”

      “…manufacturers often maintain personal relationships (sometimes involving financial payments like consulting fees) with physicians who choose the medical devices that their hospitals purchase, creating a conflict of interest. Physicians often don’t even know the costs of the devices…”


      In sum, this tax offers no threat whatsoever to the industry as a whole, nor to any jobs in that industry.

  2. Submitted by Pat McGee on 10/17/2013 - 08:33 am.

    Link to Downtown East Plans & Wells Fargo signage examples

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/17/2013 - 09:22 am.

    We would expect

    the medical device industry to support republican politicians, because opposing taxation at every opportunity is fundamental to who they are.

    The only reason they would contribute to democrats to support a position that is antithetical to their ideology and who voted for the tax in the first place, would be if they figured those politicians could be bought.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/17/2013 - 01:00 pm.

      Republicans are easily bought as well,…

      …and the only real ideology in a corporation is the maximization of profit – which is as the law would have it.

      I see no further ideals or principals at work here. When we hear of a “principle”, it normally relates to money. And you know what H.L. Mencken said: “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

      What amazes me is how CHEAP the prices of Senators and Representatives are, relative to what they have to sell, which is protection from regulation, tax breaks, outright grants of money, and the public’s natural resources. The corporate world would pay more, much more.

      If anyone can chip in against overall health care costs in the U.S., it’s the medical device industry. Yet this tax is probably going to go south in some “deal” down the road.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 10/17/2013 - 09:57 pm.

        No taxes

        No liability for defective products. No regulations. No oversight by any govt agency including the FDA. Use the users as guinea pigs. The goal of these corporations – pathetic

  4. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/17/2013 - 02:24 pm.

    No Minnesota Orchesta musician signs in the …

    new Wells Fargo Corporate enclave ?

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