A couple of heavyweight politicos don’t yet see the full fruit of ranked-choice voting. In a Strib commentary Larry Jacobs and Joanne Miller say, “Ranked-choice voting — the grand experiment in elections that Minneapolis tried out again last fall — may salve some of what ails our democracy. But, for now, it leaves open the well-documented voting gap that favors white voters and the affluent. That populist conclusion arises from careful statistical analyses of votes in the Minneapolis election and the evidence it yields of differences in participation between communities of color and the poor vs. their white and affluent counterparts.”
In response to news that metro area emergency agencies aren’t equipped to handle a large fuel train explosion, Dave Shaffer of the Strib says, “Minnesota legislative leaders Wednesday proposed beefing up the state’s capacity to respond to crude oil accidents — and to make railroads and pipeline companies pay for it. But the sponsors of the ‘Minnesota Oil Spill Defense Act’ said they don’t know how much it would cost to train and equip emergency responders to fight catastrophic crude oil fires, such as the derailment and fiery explosion of an oil train Dec. 30 near Casselton, N.D.”
“Us, too” says the St. Paul City Council. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes, “The St. Paul City Council is asking state lawmakers to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50 per hour, indexed to inflation. The council on Wednesday passed a resolution noting that ‘in the richest nation on earth, it is simply wrong for anyone who works full time to live in poverty,’ and full-time wages for someone earning $7.25 an hour come out to ‘only $15,080 a year and that is not enough to meet basic needs.’ “
The deer will be fed … Says Dennis Anderson in the Strib, “In a turnabout some call ‘shocking,’ the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will begin emergency deer feeding in northern Minnesota perhaps within two weeks — a move likely to be welcomed by many of the state’s 500,000 deer hunters. Feeding is expected to occur in a region from about Cloquet, just south of Duluth, west to Cass Lake, north to International Falls, then south to Ely and Lake Vermilion and back to Cloquet. Feeding will not occur along the North Shore. The effort is expected to cost about $170,000, and will be the first time the DNR has fed deer since the winter of 1996-1997, the second of two consecutive severe winters that devastated pockets of deer across the north.” So, deer “yes,” schoolkids “no”?
Then there are the lonely wolves of Isle Royale: Michael Olson of MPR says, “For the first time since 2008 an ice bridge has formed across Lake Superior and is connecting Isle Royale to the mainland — a possible godsend for the wolves of Isle Royale, which face the possibility of extinction. … If climate projections are accurate, only one or two more ice bridges are likely before the lake is expected to be perpetually free of any significant ice formation by 2040.”
Mike Durkin at KMSP-TV says, “The Minnesota Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision Wednesday, threw out a lawsuit against a Hennepin County deputy who crashed into a car and critically injured its driver while responding to a burglary call on Christmas Day in 2009. Jolene Vassallo of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit against Deputy Sheriff Jason Majeski and Hennepin County, alleging negligence on behalf of the deputy in turning off his siren before entering the intersection.”
Sometimes you create your own opportunities. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports, “Sen. David Tomassoni sees Minnesota opportunity in Tennessee. ‘We’d be more than happy to have Volkswagen in Minnesota,’ Tomassoni, a DFLer who represents union-rich Chisholm, said in a statement. More than 1,000 Tennessee workers at a Volkswagen plant began a three-day union vote on Wednesday. The company is encouraging of the unionization drive.” Republican leaders, however, have been critical of it.
OK, now let’s get serious about what it’ll really cost … MPR’s Tim Nelson says, “The University of Minnesota is going to get a fresh look tomorrow at the upgrades the school’s stadium will need to host the Vikings for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The preliminary price tag on tomorrow’s agenda is $6.6 million in capital improvements, up from the $3.5 million that the team and school initially estimated in a 2013 agreement. That’s when they reached a deal to host the NFL for at least 20 games while the Metrodome is being torn down and the new stadium is being built. Now, for the first time, the University and the Vikings have put together a solid estimate on what it’ll cost to upgrade ‘The Bank’ for winter football.”
If you’re feeling that special St. Paul romantic vibe … the kind that rates the “most” in North America, Aaron Rupar at City Pages says, “Already the continent’s best romantic getaway, St. Paul is about to get a whole lot cuter in the condom department. The Center for Biological Diversity is flooding St. Paul with hundreds of Endangered Species Condoms thanks to the city’s romantic recognition. The condoms, each featuring one of six endangered species, will be arriving up here and in other cities that made the USA Today’s list just in time for Valentine’s Day. They’ll be distributed by volunteers, though exactly where isn’t clear, as the Center’s phones were busy this afternoon.” Because, you know, you don’t want to accidentally increase your biological diversity.