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Minneapolis council waves off Downtown East lawsuit, will vote Friday

U’s 4-year grad rate soars; state to provide 2014 U.S. Capitol tree; voluntary silica-sand rules in works; man charged in Fridley abduction; and more.

Ryan Cos.

And the implicit message here is …? Tim Nelson at MPR says: “The city of Minneapolis and critics of the $400 million stadium district development traded arguments in Hennepin County District Court for an hour and a half this morning, but it doesn’t look like a planned vote on the deal will be stopped. Former city council president Paul Ostrow argued before judge Mel Dickstein this morning, asking the him to stop the city from approving a $65 million bond sale the city is using to finance the deal. But Ostrow conceded it’s likely to win approval tomorrow, perhaps unanimously. … Assistant Minneapolis city attorney Peter Ginder said the decision was a political matter, and it wasn’t up to the courts to decide what a legislative body should and shouldn’t vote on.” MinnPost coverage here.

Improvement … in what matters to those paying tuition. Maura Lerner of the Strib says: “In the 1990s, only 15 percent of the students at the University of Minnesota graduated in four years. Now, the 4-year graduation rate on the Twin Cities campus has soared to 59.1 percent — within ‘striking distance’ of its goal of 60 percent, according to a report to the Board of Regents, who are meeting Thursday. The report shows that the university is continuing to make dramatic headway in its mission to boost graduation rates, which were once at the bottom of the Big Ten. This year, the five-year graduation rate hit 75.5 percent, up from 37 percent two decades ago.”

D.C. Big Gummint types will raid our forests next year … Zach Keyser of the Bemidji Pioneer says: “The Chippewa National Forest will supply the 2014 Capitol Christmas Tree for the first time in more than 20 years. Starting next month, workers will comb Chippewa to form a list of trees they think are up to par, and officials from the main office of the U.S. Forest Service will help elect a tree to go to Washington, D.C., in the spring. Once cut down next winter, the tree will travel by truck to the U.S. Capitol Building, stopping for ceremonies at various cities along the way. The tree’s odyssey will culminate in a Capitol Tree official lighting ceremony on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, after which it will be lit every night for the rest of the holiday season. Darla Lenz, supervisor at the Chippewa Forest office, said the tree will represent the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, whose reservation it will likely come from.”

Game theory … with birds? Richard Chin of the PiPress says: “In the basement of a building on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus there are blue jays that play games for their supper. The birds are members of a colony maintained in a laboratory run by David Stephens, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. … Stephens has been putting blue jays through mind games in experiments to test situations in which the birds are given the option to cooperate, betray, be generous or lie to each other. One method Stephens uses is Prisoner’s Dilemma, a classic problem in the field of thinking called game theory.” What can this tell us about private-equity investors?

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Regulation is coming to the wild west … Steve Karnowski of the AP says: “Minnesota plans to release a draft set of model standards Friday to help communities struggling to regulate the boom in mining for silica sand, which oil and gas drillers use for hydraulic fracturing. They’re meant to give smaller governments a toolbox of approaches they can tailor to cope with sand mining’s effects on the environment, public health and roads and bridges. … The voluntary standards are among several steps the 2013 Legislature ordered to address silica sand mining, which Minnesota has regulated mostly on the local level so far. State agencies are also drafting regulations — which will have force of law — to say when projects trigger formal environmental reviews.”

Let’s hope this is the guy … Paul Walsh’s story for the Strib says: “An ex-convict has been arrested and charged Thursday with grabbing a woman off a Fridley street while impersonating a law enforcement officer late last month, then raping her and cleansing her body with bleach before giving the woman bus fare upon freeing her miles away. The Nov. 23 assault came just ahead of two other late-November attacks on women near the near the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, one of which also involved a suspect posing as a law enforcement officer, but authorities have yet to say whether any two or all of them are related. … The woman was handcuffed, blindfolded and driven to an unknown location, where Arrington raped her at least twice over a few hours, threatening to kill her.”

A familiar face/name has passed away. Curt Brown of the Strib says: “Lou Gelfand, the Star Tribune’s longtime readers’ representative and a former Pillsbury public relations executive, has died at 91. A private family funeral was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, according to Hodroff-Epstein funeral home. Born in Oklahoma, Gelfand served as a Japanese language expert in World War II. He worked as a journalist and in public relations at Pillsbury, before a long stint fielding complaints and writing a Sunday column as a readers’ advocate in the Star Tribune.”

A couple of very odd quotes in this story. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “A Maplewood pastor has been charged with raping two young girls for years, beginning when they were about 6. The girls’ mother reported the abuse by Jacoby Kindred to police in July, when the girls, now ages 14 and 16, disclosed it, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court. Kindred, 61, denied any inappropriate behavior and told police that the girls’ mother must have put them up to it. He made a reference to Minnesota being a ‘ladies’ state,’ and said, ‘You weren’t there, nobody was there!’ the complaint said. … Kindred told police he was a pastor with One Accord Ministries. He refers to himself on his Facebook page as ‘Jacoby Preacherman.’ He declined to describe the church for a reporter, but told police it does not have a building.” Is there an emoticon for “eye rolling”?