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Will Osmo Vänskä return? One hint

Bonding projects abound; Citbank to replace “Targeted” debit cards; senators want Target answers; Penney’s closing Worthington store; Supreme Court more lenient  to bounced tax court judge; and more.

Photo by Todd Buchanan

For MPR, Euan Kerr says of the Minnesota Orchestra situation: “[A] lot of questions remain to be answered, including who will lead the orchestra. Board Chair Jon Campbell is out, but President and CEO Michael Henson remains. Both drew criticism for their hard-line stance during negotiations. Of far more concern to musicians and fans is the huge hole left by the resignation of the ensemble’s music director, Osmo Vänskä, who raised Minnesota’s profile on the world stage.” MinnPost’s Doug Grow has coverage here.

As for Osmo Vänskä reconsidering … Graydon Royce of the Strib writes: “Vänskä was flying from Finland to Israel on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, but a tantalizing item appeared in the Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper. In response to Facebook pleas for his return to Minnesota, the conductor reportedly posted: ‘I’m going to try! But they have to ask me!’

The Forum News Service story, by Don Davis, says: “Dayton wants the state to borrow $986 million for construction projects across Minnesota, ranging from renovating a theater in the northeast to continuing a water project in the southwest, from expanding a civic center in the southeast to building a wellness center in the northwest. Two broad categories would use more than half of the money that Dayton … suggested spending. Education projects, mostly at state-owned colleges and universities, total $265 million of Dayton’s request, with economic development initiatives taking $232 million.”

In the PiPress, Sarah Horner and Frederick Melo write: “The forecast for redevelopment of Minnesota’s largest Superfund site just got brighter. Gov. Mark Dayton included $29 million for road improvements around the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills in his 2014 bonding bill released Wednesday. It tops a list of other east metro projects that also received executive endorsements. … Dayton recommended giving St. Paul:
• $14 million to expand and renovate the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
•  $8.9 million for transportation and access improvements near Como Regional Park.
•  $6 million to renovate the downtown Palace Theatre.
•  $10 million to build stations and shelters, and buy buses and signal systems for an arterial Bus Rapid Transit line along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway.”

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Uh oh, now you’ve made Citi unhappy … Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times writes: “Citibank plans to reissue all customer debit cards involved in the data breach at Target, making it the second major bank to do so since the attack was disclosed last month. The bank did not replace the debit cards sooner because it wanted to minimize disruptions during the holiday shopping season, according to a person briefed on the company’s decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It will begin sending new cards soon.”

Simultaneously … Jim Spencer of the Strib says: “Two members of the Senate Commerce Committee are seeking answers from Target Corp. about the recent data breach that put 70 million of the Minneapolis-based retailers’ customers at risk. In a Jan. 10 letter, Senators Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asked CEO Gregg Steinhafel to brief the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee … A spokesman for Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation Wednesday. But Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters … that her state is participating in multistate investigation.” Can we remember that the important thing is to do what’s right for the people, or the “guests,” as Target likes to say?

Corey Mitchell of the Strib says: “In letters to card issuers Bank of America, Capitol One, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and networks Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, [Sen. Al] Franken questioned why the United States hasn’t abandoned the magnetic strips on cards that make American consumers more vulnerable to hacking attacks. Most other industrialized nations use more secure technology — credit cards that have embedded computer chip and PIN-number systems for purchases.” I’m guessing there’s an impact on shareholder value.

Also in (bad) retail … . Anne D’Innocenzio of the AP reports: “Struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney announced it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores as it tries to get back on the path to profitability. … Among the stores the company is closing is one at the Northland Mall in Worthington, Minn. It is also closing stores in five cities in Wisconsin: Fond du Lac, Janesville, Rhinelander, Rice Lake and Wausau.”

It turns out the Supreme Court would not have bounced Tax Court Judge George Perez. In the PiPress, David Hanners says: “Although the state’s former chief tax judge gave the judicial system a black eye by not obeying the law, his behavior wasn’t bad enough to kick him off the bench, the Minnesota Supreme Court said Wednesday. Too late for that. George Perez lost his seat on the state’s tax court last year when the Senate rejected his reappointment. In its written opinion, the Supreme Court said public censure was a just punishment for Perez’s history of delaying rulings past the 90-day deadline mandated by law and then filing false reports to cover up what he’d done.”

In the Strib, Dave Chanen writes: “The former chief judge of Minnesota’s Tax Court on Wednesday accused the state’s Judicial Standards Board of conducting an overzealous investigation of his actions that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. … Perez said that at least $125,000 was initially spent to investigate his case and that the board’s former executive director, David Paull, sought and received an additional $300,000 from the Legislature, although he didn’t know how much of it was spent on his case.”