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First MNsure invoices going out … with a small snag

Chamber Orchestra reports $280,000 surplus; stadium financing updates; groundbreaking photo an Internet hit; storm cancels Duluth lutefisk dinner; and more.

In the PiPress, Christopher Snowbeck writes: “With less than a month before new health insurance policies are supposed to kick in, it’s time for consumers buying coverage through Minnesota’s new exchange to start paying for their policies. Trouble is, the bill might not be there yet — but officials say they’re coming. On Monday, officials with MNsure, the state’s health exchange, notified insurance agents that more than 1,200 invoices have been sent to consumers who have selected health insurance plans. Some of those invoices have ‘potential issues,’ according to the notice, although the the problems affect fewer than 20.” But 20 ought to be enough to set off a new round of Chicken Little histrionics.

A surplus!? Euan Kerr of MPR says: “The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has announced that it ended the year with a surplus of more than $280,000. President and Managing Director Bruce Coppock said during the orchestra’s annual meeting [Tuesday] that the money will be used to partly pay down the orchestra’s $800,000 deficit from last year. After a difficult year that included a seven-month lockout of the orchestra’s musicians during a contract dispute, Coppock said he is optimistic about the organization’s future.

A couple more takes, from around the country, on Tuesday’s Vikings stadium groundbreaking. For The New York Times, Pat Borzi delivers a piece saying: “Exactly how much the Wilfs are committing remains a point of contention for those who opposed public financing for the building, a fixed-roof, multipurpose stadium. The bill calls for the Vikings to contribute $477 million … With the covered overruns, the team’s share is expected to surpass $500 million, a little more than half the cost. According to Vikings officials, the N.F.L. provided the team $200 million from its stadium construction fund, combining $150 million in loans with a $50 million grant. An additional $250 million will be privately financed through the consortium, $100 million of that recouped through personal seat licenses. … The Wilfs pledged another $100 million in cash … The selling of naming rights could reduce the Wilfs’ share or the amount financed. Mark Wilf, the Vikings’ president, said his family and the team had contributed a large enough share. ‘This kind of public-private partnership was needed on this kind of project,’ he said.”

For The Uptake, Andy Birkey writes: “Despite the festive celebration, the groundbreaking was carried out with an air of urgency: The $1 billion stadium, facing a host of political and financial problems, is still under the gun and the fake hole — the dignitaries used their shovels on a carefully arranged foot-deep pile of dirt that had been manicured above the cement parking surface, the black dirt surrounded by green swatches of indoor-outdoor carpeting giving the appearance of a freshly dug grave site — is not likely to be the end of things. The ‘groundbreaking’ almost didn’t happen this year. It was supposed to have occurred months ago, after the state sold the bonds to pay for the stadium. That sale was supposed to take place in March, but with deep concerns surrounding the stadium’s funding that arose after it became clear that the electronic pulltab scheme that was supposed to pay the state’s share was a failure, the bond sale was delayed repeatedly. At this point, the bonds are slated to be sold in January, almost a year behind schedule.”

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The GleanThe AP builds a story off a Strib photo. It says: “A photograph of the Minnesota Vikings owner and the state’s governor tossing dirt is rocketing around the Internet as a symbol of the split over sports stadium funding. The Minneapolis Star Tribune photo was taken Tuesday at a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Vikings’ new $1 billion stadium. It captured a gleeful team owner Zygi Wilf as he hoisted a golden shovel next to a more subdued Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. The shot took off on Twitter and quickly spread to heavily visited sports sites, eliciting comments that it summed up the struggle over stadium deals.”

Let’s hope this doesn’t go viral … Another AP story tells … the world: “A snowstorm blanketing northern Minnesota has forced a church to cancel its annual lutefisk dinner. First Lutheran Church in Duluth had planned to hold the fundraising dinner Wednesday. But organizers say it was too risky to ask people to venture out into what could end up being 20 inches of snow by late Wednesday. The annual salmon, meatball and lutefisk feed usually raises $10,000 for the church’s charitable programs. Volunteers on Tuesday made 1,750 meatballs out of 200 pounds of beef.” And this just barely a week since that parkas in front of the green screen bit … .

Another topic being revisited yet again … Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “The Minnesota Supreme Court has opened the door to potential camera coverage of criminal court proceedings. In an order issued Tuesday, the court said its advisory committee on the rules of criminal procedure ‘shall review’ a media proposal to expand the use of cameras and audio coverage to criminal cases, and issue a report by December 2014. The coverage would be limited to certain proceedings, such as arraignments, pre-trial hearings and sentencings, where witnesses and jurors are not likely to be present. Critics of the proposal have argued that potential publicity would make victims, witnesses and jury members uncomfortable or even fearful.” As long as they’re spending our tax money, we should get to watch …

How much easier can it get to brew beer?  Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “The St. Paul City Council is expected to pass another new ordinance Wednesday that will make it easier to open a microbrewery in St. Paul. The latest rule change defines micro-breweries as brewers that produce fewer than 20,000 barrels of beer per year. Previous city rules set the limit at 5,000 barrels. The new rules allow brewers that produce fewer than 5,000 barrels to set up shop in a business district or ‘traditional’ mixed-use neighborhood without a conditional use permit. Brewers that produce between 5,000 and 20,000 barrels will need to get a permit, which gives the city some leeway in determining whether to allow a business in a particular area.” You know what they call 20,000 barrels in Wisconsin? “Pump priming.”

One may be the loneliest number, but three is the most dangerous. Tad Vezner of the PiPress says: “A Richfield woman fatally stabbed her husband in the heart for ‘wanting to bring another woman into their bedroom,’ according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday. Amreya Rahmeto Shefa, 40, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder in the Sunday slaying of her husband, Habibi Tesema, 48. About 5 a.m., police were called to the couple’s home at 7338 12th Ave S., where they lived with their 2-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, on a report of an assault with a knife. Shefa ran from the home with blood on her hands and arms, ‘yelling hysterically … about her husband and her kids,’ according to the complaint. Officers coaxed the two children from the home and then found Tesema — naked and covered in blood — in a bathtub.”