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Wall Street says Target breach could cost $1 billion

Southwest LRT restores “St. Louis Park option”; auditor looking at MNsure vendors, too; MNsure bonuses criticized; Best Buy in Canada lays off 950; $16 million in emergency heating aid; and more.

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun

A billion is still a lot of dough … Tom Webb of the PiPress reports: “Two months into the Target security breach, fraud is turning up on 10 percent to 15 percent of the stolen card accounts, a security specialist says. Based on that brisk level of criminal activity, one Wall Street analyst estimates that perhaps 5 million of the 40 million stolen credit and debit cards may have been used fraudulently — an exposure that could hit Target Corp. with industry fines topping $1 billion.”

The “St. Louis Park option” is back … Curtis Gilbert of MPR says: “The Metropolitan Council is again considering re-routing freight rail traffic from Minneapolis to St. Louis Park to make way for the Southwest light rail line. The St. Louis Park option is back on the table after a new engineering study identified it as one of two viable routes for the freight trains. The other viable option would be to keep the trains in Minneapolis. The new St. Louis Park option eliminates the two-story tall earthen berms called for in earlier designs.”

Well, obviously someone screwed up … . Jackie Crosby of the Strib says: “With Minnesotans still experiencing problems with the MNsure website, the state’s legislative auditor said Monday he is planning a full-throttle investigation, starting with the vendors that received tens of millions of dollars to build the state’s new health insurance exchange. … Maximus, a Reston, Va.-based company, was lead vendor and has been described as the ‘grand conductor’ of the operation, hiring all of the subcontractors.”

Meanwhile … Aaron Rupar at City Pages says: “Fourteen MNSure managers made $26,000 in bonuses in November while the health care exchange website they were charged with rolling out struggled through a number of technical issues, state officials recently announced. That revelation prompted Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, to fire off a stern letter to Governor Dayton comparing the bonuses to ‘the worst excesses of Wall Street’. … But Dayton sought to distance himself from the situation, much as he did last month when then-MNSure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov ended up resigning amid a controversy about a tropical vacation.”

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“Streamlining …” Riiight. For MPR, Martin Moylan says: “Best Buy is laying off 950 employees from its stores in Canada. The consumer electronics retailer is consolidating sales departments and reducing the number of managers in Canadian stores. Company officials say the move is part of Best Buy’s effort to ‘streamline its store operating model’ and increase efficiency.”

Big gummint to the rescue … Stribber Corey Mitchell says: “The Obama administration will release nearly $16 million in emergency funds to help Minnesota families and businesses hit hard by the state’s propane shortage.The White House announced Thursday that it will release more than $450 million, including $15.8 million in Minnesota and $14.2 million in Wisconsin, to help families heat their homes.”

Big gummint stickin’ its nose where it don’t have no bidniss … Bill Chappell of NPR tells us: “Lakemaid Beer is brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., and distributed to several states in the region. But it was a very local delivery that put the company out of favor with the Federal Aviation Administration. The Wisconsin brewery is receiving a flood of support and condolences after the FAA ruled that its beer delivery drone, which had only recently taken flight, had to be shut down. Lakemaid calls itself the fishermen’s lager. It had hoped to use drones to deliver its beer to anglers in thousands of ice shacks, from the frozen northern lakes’ combination bait and beer shops.”

Strib arts writer Mary Abbe likes what she saw at the U of M Nash Gallery: “And this month’s Truth-in-Titling award goes to ‘Made in Minnesota,’ the Regis Center for Art’s straightforward label for its fine new show of sculpture by 22 Minnesota artists. They’re a remarkably diverse bunch and the stuff they make is so distinctive — maquettes for big steel sculptures, mechanical toys, Japanese-flavored benches, carved-wood caricatures, political commentary, conceptual kayaks, jewelry — that superficially they have nothing in common. But at heart they are all makers.”

Ours was No. 2! Pat Kennedy of the Strib reports: “The Locally Laid Egg Co. of Wrenshall, Minn., has finished as runner-up in the contest to win a 30-second advertisement spot during Sunday’s Super Bowl. The small-business software company Intuit had picked Locally Laid as one of its four finalists for the contest in November. … Locally Laid will get a professionally done commercial from the Santa Monica, Calif., ad agency RPA, which worked with Intuit on the contest. That commercial will be shown nationally during another Fox Sports broadcast and also shown in Locally Laid’s markets in the Twin Cities and Duluth.”