Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Southwest LRT plan is ‘advanced but not endorsed’

The Southwest LRT as of today … Pat Doyle of the Strib says: “Controversial plans for a light-rail line to the southwest suburbs were advanced but not endorsed Monday by key policymakers who withheld judgment on digging nearly a mile of tunnels in a recreational corridor of Minneapolis. The unusual decision came on the eve of talks on the project scheduled Tuesday involving Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Hennepin County officials, legislators and Metropolitan Council chair Susan Haigh, whose agency is planning the $1.55 billion rail line. … The decision to avoid taking a stand underscores the contentious nature of the Southwest Corridor light-rail plan, which is opposed by Rybak and some City Council members, and adds more uncertainty to the project’s future.”

But … . Steve Inman, a Minneapolis resident, argues in a Strib commentary: “I am disappointed that the Star Tribune Editorial Board, suggesting that ‘it’s time to move forward,’ has concluded that the ‘Shallow tunnel plan is best for Southwest LRT’ (Oct. 13). We’ve all grown weary of this never-ending process. However, when Metropolitan Council officials are pressed with questions on design, engineering and environmental impact, there is a striking lack of substantive information. One can only conclude that this hastily created plan has not been thoroughly studied to determine the true cost in dollars and sacrifice. … Selection of the shallow-tunnel option not only violates promises made to Minneapolis but results in precisely the type of outcome the environmental review process is designed to avoid: a single community bearing all of the negative impacts of a governmental action while accruing none of the benefits.”

Staged accidents and MRI kickbacks! Alejandra Matos of the Strib says: “A Twin Cities diagnostic imaging company and 46 chiropractors were accused in a federal lawsuit Monday of defrauding the state’s no-fault car insurance system with unnecessary medical procedures and kickbacks to practitioners who ordered them. The $1.9 million action filed by Illinois Farmers Insurance Co. and some of its subsidiaries against Mobile Diagnostic Imaging Inc., its owner and the chiropractors, is the largest no-fault lawsuit since the law was put in place in 1974, according to the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. The allegations reflect what local insurance representatives are saying is a growing trend of kickback schemes and staged accidents that aim to defraud auto insurers under the state’s no-fault law.”

What do you know? It was a good summer for soybeans. Tom Webb of the PiPress says: “[C]ombines are rolling all across Minnesota during a fall harvest that’s already producing surprises. One nice surprise has been the soybean crop, which a month ago didn’t seem to wow anyone. A late spring, a soggy start and a dry August were all working against it. ‘I think people are surprised that some of the soybean yields are as good as they are,’ said Dave Nicolai, a University of Minnesota extension crops specialist, who monitored the south-central part of the state. U extension specialist Liz Stahl is seeing the same thing in southwest Minnesota, where she’s hearing bushels-per-acre chatter of ‘yields in the 50s, up to the lower 60s, even.’ Another welcome surprise has been the warm and frost-free autumn, allowing even late-planted crops time to mature.”

“The neighbor from hell” gets … probation. Kia Farhang of the PiPress says: “A woman dubbed the “neighbor from hell” was sentenced to five years’ probation Monday for harassing a White Bear Lake family and violating the restraining order they had against her. Lori Elaine Christensen, 50, must also complete 50 hours of community service and cannot go within a mile of the home of Gregory and Kimberly Hoffman, who alleged that she harassed them in multiple incidents last year.

The Strib editorializes in favor of online voter registration but has problems with how Secretary of State Mark Ritchie went about it: “It’s high time for online voter registration to come to Minnesota, promising the convenience, accuracy and administrative cost savings it has already delivered in 16 other states, with two more state systems pending. It’s a shame that it arrived here under partisan and legal clouds that could threaten its staying power. … Instead of casting themselves as opponents of online voter registration — and thereby playing into the hands of critics who tag them as vote suppressors — [Republicans] have a chance to position themselves as perfecters of a registration option that’s been proven to work in other states and that many Minnesotans are eager to use.”

DFL Sen. Katie Sieben pretty much agrees. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “The DFL Senate leader in charge of election issues said on Monday that the new online voter registration set up by the Secretary of State should be under legislative purview. ‘I agree with Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles’ assessment that this system should be implemented with enabling legislation,’ DFL Sen. Katie Sieben, chair of the Senate’s elections committee, said in a statement on Monday.”

MPR’s Elizabeth Baier has a piece on a Rochester program encouraging grade-school computer coders: “In Rochester, officials are looking for ways to grow computer programmers locally. [7-year-old Chaitanya Ghatty’s] father, Surya Ghatty, is one of a group of IBM and Mayo Clinic programmers and software developers mentoring local students, teaching young kids how to code even before their hands are big enough to stretch completely across a keyboard. … It’s also about teaching kids how to see the world in a whole new way, said Karen Brennan, assistant professor at the Harvard School of Education who developed Scratch, the kid-friendly program the Rochester group uses to get students excited about coding. Scratch lets them snap blocks together to bring animated characters to life. Each block represents a programming instruction so kids don’t have to worry about typos. It’s sort of like building a structure with LEGO blocks in the physical world.”

Good news for Penumbra fans … Says Rohan Preston in the Strib “After a fiscally harrowing year that threatened its existence, Penumbra Theatre has made a strong turnaround. The St. Paul troupe, regarded as the nation’s foremost African-American theater company, ended its recent fiscal year with a slim but significant $130,779 surplus after losing $1.15 million the year before. … Foundations, corporations and individual donors, 1,400 of whom contributed, gave a total of $359,000 to Penumbra — $19,000 over its goal — allowing the theater to reopen in March.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/15/2013 - 08:37 am.

    A Reality of Which They Can’t Allow Themselves to Be Aware

    Isn’t interesting that when most of our “conservative” friends use the level of cheating they assume to exist in government assistance programs and the levels of insurance fraud and liability fraud as an excuse to shrink those programs or enact torte “reform,”…

    they imagine those guilty of such malfeasance to be only people of color, or immigrants, or the elderly, or, perhaps, their impoverished-as-the-result-of-laziness white brothers and sisters,…

    whereas the reality is that those who cheat such programs out of $Billions each year, as is indicated by the law suit recently filed against a cabal of chiropractors and an MRI service company, are people such as themselves:

    doctors, pharmacists, chiropractors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies, etc.

    I suppose we can thank that dear old silver tongued liar, Ronnie Raygun and his completely fictional story (as in it NEVER happened ANYWHERE) of the “welfare queen” driving a Cadillac for that completely false image of who it is that’s cheating others out of their hard-earned dollars that our “conservative” friends continue to believe must certainly be true,…

    and the reasons why their efforts to stamp out “waste, fraud, and abuse,” NEVER work: i.e. they insist on targeting those they believe must certainly be abusing the system – the poor and disadvantaged, while they refuse to target the actual guilty parties; people who are very much like, if not identical to themselves.

  2. Submitted by Robert Ferguson on 10/18/2013 - 02:45 am.

    Delay in Sanctioning funds for Rail Planning & Design

    This is really very sad to know that they are cooking their own food and are not funding this project which is looking to be delayed further due to funding problems. They must look after it and resolve the issue as soon as they can.

  3. Submitted by on 01/06/2014 - 03:24 am.

    The Southwest Corridor is scheduled to become the third light rail transit corridor in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, with service between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, going through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Minnetonka along the way. Since receiving approval from the Metropolitan Council on May 26, 2010, the Southwest Corridor joins the Central Corridor as an official part of the Metro Council’s project list.

Leave a Reply