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Sports Facilities Authority settles plaza dispute for $17 million

Dramatic changes considered for sex offenders; Minnesota model for progressives; accident throws 13 from van; bittersweet is latest invasive species; beware fake Viking tickets; and more.

For 400 percent of assessed value? I’d take it, too. Tim Nelson of MPR reports: “The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and Minneapolis Venture have settled their dispute over the plaza in front of the current Metrodome. The MSFA will pay $17.1 million for the plaza and 450 underground parking places. It had recently been assessed for $4.5 million. Minneapolis Venture, run by developer Bob Lux, had threatened to evict Vikings fans and pre-game activities from the plaza between the Metrodome and the light rail station just to the west of the stadium.” I have a classic 1957-era rambler in beautiful Edina if the Authority is interested … 

The state’s sex offender incarceration issue may be getting … a new court. Chris Serres of the Strib says: “A state task force is considering dramatic changes to Minnesota’s controversial system of committing the worst sex offenders to indefinite high-security confinement, a practice that critics say results in de-facto life sentences for offenders who have already served their prison time.The 15-person panel is discussing the creation of a new, central state court with broad authority to determine how sex offenders are selected for civil commitment, as well as when they might be released. The draft recommendations would call on the Legislature to adopt a higher standard of proof before locking away sex ­offenders and the creation of a state panel of professional experts to screen commitments of sex offenders.”

At Mother Jones, writer Andy Kroll visits Minnesota and makes the argument that progressives here are setting the model for their ilk to take back state houses around the country: “Minnesotans can thank — or blame — a small, press-shy circle of operatives, activists, donors, and party leaders who have built a political machine that chugs year-round to elect Democratic candidates and pass progressive policies. It is fueled by big unions and wealthy donors, the best data in the business, and an unusual level of collaboration among organizations that have very different priorities. Their strategy has created a road map for Democrats from Concord to Santa Fe. … Even [Brian] McClung, the former Pawlenty staffer, concedes that the close collaboration has made Minnesota’s progressives brutally effective. ‘They have mastered the concept of discipline and cohesion in a way that you really don’t see with Democrats all that often,’ he says.” MinnPost coverage here. But then the GOP had Tony “The Chairman” Sutton.

How many people? Joe Lindberg of the PiPress says: “Thirteen people were thrown from a van in southwest Minnesota on Thursday morning after the driver lost control and rolled into the median, authorities say. The driver, a 29-year-old Sioux Falls, S.D., man, lost control after hitting an ice patch on eastbound Interstate 90 shortly before 2 a.m. near Worthington, Minn., according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Fifteen people were in the van at the time of the crash.”

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Your (almost) daily invasive-species update … Ann Wessel of the St. Cloud Times says: “An invasive plant that agriculture and forestry professionals describe as worse than buckthorn is establishing itself in Minnesota — in one case planted because nursery stock was mislabeled, taking root elsewhere when flower arrangements were tossed. Bittersweet is a potential door-brightener, often collected, sometimes woven into wreaths or tucked into fall floral arrangements. The native species, American bittersweet, produces orange fruits and capsules on a contained vine. The invasive version is a potential forest-killer, often spreading unnoticed while it smothers everything in its path.” Two words: Rock gardens.

Our Favorite Congresswoman is also an expert in the mathematical foundations of insurance. In a commentary for The National Review, Ms. Bachmann writes: “After myriads of structural problems and security concerns — even shutting down the entire website for repair — there is broad bipartisan agreement that Obamacare isn’t ready for prime time. … Despite this failure, President Obama remains committed to using the power of government to force every American to buy an expensive product they overwhelmingly do not want. … There’s no sugarcoating it: Obamacare is forcing every American to purchase a health-insurance policy they don’t want at a price they can’t afford from a website that doesn’t work. If President Obama is so intent on selling his troubled health-care law to the country, why not sign up for it himself? Until then, why not make it voluntary for the rest of us?” MinnPost’s Devin Henry has more on Bachmann comments.

The GleanWhat about a fake pro team?  Mr. Nelson at MPR also says: “The Vikings game against Green Bay in the Metrodome this Sunday may be an even hotter ticket that you realized. The Vikings say there may be a number of fake or stolen tickets circulating ahead of the sold out game, and that fans should be wary of buying tickets near the stadium on game day. Fans shouldn’t buy e-tickets printed on letter-sized paper because of the high risk that they are fakes, and the team also says that very few tickets are printed on generic Ticketmaster ticket stock. The team says Ticketmaster tickets for sale on the street are most likely counterfeits as well.”  There’s also a cute little video showing the Metrodome comes down as the new place goes … and how much bigger the new joint will be.

Another MPR story, this by Jennifer Vogel, finds International Falls residents warming to Voyageurs National Park … especially if they can get sewer service. “The cold shoulder toward the park seems to be warming. In the wake of a recent round of layoffs at the Boise mill that left 265 people without jobs, the city and Koochiching County are taking various measures to diversify the local economy. International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson supports running a sewer line along a stretch of Rainy Lake shore, and so does Gov. Mark Dayton. Both will push for money from the Legislature to pay for the improvement during the upcoming session. ‘I’m optimistic about that,’ Anderson said. ‘I think we have a better shot this year.’ ”

Never mind beer, let’s talk real hooch. Jim Anderson of the Strib says: “A new distillery — the first in the Twin Cities since Prohibition — is poised to become the latest specialty business that is shaking and, yes, stirring things up in the former Hamm’s Brewery complex on St. Paul’s East Side, which had stood empty since 1997. Bob McManus and Lee Egbert have renamed their Mill City Distilling company based in Minneapolis to 11 Wells Spirits to reflect their new roots in St. Paul where one of the nation’s best-selling beers was once brewed. At the brewery, 11 wells tapped into the fresh water below. … They are planning to start distilling operations in January, producing small batches of specialty gin, bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, malt whiskey and rum, along with a unique product called ‘Minnesota 13,’ a corn-based liquor so named for a strain of high-quality corn developed decades ago at the University of Minnesota — but which also gained notoriety as a premium-quality moonshine during Prohibition.” How come all I can imagine is the traffic coming in from Wisconsin?