Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Study: Minnesota kids not engaging in as much risky behavior

Capitol art selections questioned; lawsuit dismissal clears way for stadium financing; effort tries to derail solar project; propane prices surge; Target to stop offering part-timers health insurance; and more.

Minnesota kids are cleaning up their act. Tim Post of MPR says: “Fewer young Minnesotans are taking part in risky behaviors than in years past, according to the latest Minnesota Student Survey. Last year, more than 160,000 students in grades 5, 8, 9 and 11 took part in the survey … Sheila Oehrlein, who supervises the Minnesota Department of Education’s safe and healthy learners team, said overall the results are positive. ‘Many of the sort of risky things that the student survey measures like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or using marijuana in the last 30 days, every time we administer the survey fewer kids are saying they’ve done that,’ Oehrlein said.”

Good question … when do we move on from our military episodes? MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports: “Some of Minnesota’s elected officials are wondering if it’s time to declare the Civil War over, at least when it comes to some of the artwork adorning the walls of the Minnesota Capitol. … Dayton noted that five large paintings inside the governor’s office depict Civil War battles, and aside from the historical significance, he wondered how the images represent the full complexion of the state. ‘I’m not an art historian, and I’m not even an art expert,’ Dayton said. ‘I wanted to raise the question.’ ”

Everyone is, of course, stunned that the case went nowhere … fast. The Strib story, by Baird Helgeson and Janet Moore, on the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the so-called Mann-Tilsen suit contesting the Vikings stadium’s funding concept says: “Public financing of the $1 billion Vikings stadium is back on track after the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a last-minute legal challenge that threatened to delay the project. … in a five-page order handed down Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled it does not have jurisdiction over the matter.”

Doug Belden’s PiPress story says: “Rick Collins, Ryan’s vice president of development, said Tuesday evening that he expects the land sales associated with the Downtown East project to close within seven to 10 days. Collins said he is working daily with the authority, the city of Minneapolis and the Star Tribune, which owns the land, on the project’s timeline.”

Article continues after advertisement

At MPR, Tim Nelson’s story says: “Doug Mann, reached late Tuesday, said he was not surprised at the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision.  He also said he still believes the arguments his case made were strong.  Nevertheless, he said, ‘this is probably it. I don’t think it very likely the Supreme Court will agree to review this. Spending the $550 might be throwing money out the window,’ Mann said.” While with $500 million, we’re guaranteed a sweet ROI.

With gas so cheap, what do you expect? Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “State energy officials and power companies tried Tuesday to derail a proposed $250 million solar energy project designed to meet future electricity needs of Xcel Energy Inc. customers in Minnesota. In regulatory filings, the Minnesota Commerce Department, Xcel and two other companies that want to build natural gas power plants urged state regulators to reject Edina-based Geronimo Energy’s plans to build approximately 20 large solar power arrays across Minnesota.”

Speaking of fuel … A Bloomberg trio reports: “Propane prices in the Midwest surged to a record high as a cold snap whips up demand for the heating fuel while record exports have depleted stocks. … Spot propane at the Conway, Kan., trading hub jumped 70 cents to $2.45 a barrel, the highest since at least January 2008. … ‘Two months ago, I would have told you the United States had the lowest propane price in the world except for Saudi Arabia,’ Joe Rose, president of Propane Gas Association of New England, said. ‘Now in the last week, that price has just gone crazy.’ ” Purely an effect of healthy market forces, I’m certain.

Some of those folks assisting Target’s “guests” will be dealing with their own insurance from now on. Says Jackie Crosby of the Strib: “Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will stop offering health insurance to its part-time employees because new online health exchanges offer workers an opportunity to buy coverage. The Minneapolis-based retailer will give each worker $500 to help buy health insurance … The retailer announced the decision through its online site, ‘A Bullseye View: Behind the Scenes at Target.’ ”

Meth, shotguns and hundreds of stolen IDs. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress says: “Former state worker Roxanne Kay DeFlorin told a Ramsey County jury Tuesday that she’s not guilty of using information she obtained through her job to commit identity theft. And while two short-barreled shotguns were found in her home’s upstairs closet, she did not know they were there, she said. ‘I’m guilty of doing meth; I’m guilty of taking work home; I’m guilty of not searching my closet well enough,’ she said. ‘That’s all I’m guilty of.’ … DeFlorin obtained names and Social Security numbers from a Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota, or PERA, database and a list from the Department of Labor and Industry, where she worked until about 10 years ago, [the prosecutor] said.”