Place your bets. It’s Xcel vs. GE. Dave Shaffer of the Strib reports: “One of Minnesota’s most expensive industrial accidents has triggered a legal fight over a 22-month repair job that cost more than $200 million. Xcel Energy Inc. and the co-owner and insurers of the Sherco 3 electric generator in Becker, Minn., have sued turbine maker General Electric Co., alleging that the manufacturer fraudulently concealed a known equipment defect for years. Xcel’s 1.2 million electric customers in Minnesota have a stake in the case because they were socked with $65 million in costs for replacement power during the repair.” Does GE ever lose one of these?
That 10-cent-a-can recycling fee went nowhere … fast. Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR now says: “Opposition to container deposit mounted even before anything was formally introduced. Trash and recycling haulers, grocers and the beverage industry all lined up against it. Lobbyists representing national industry groups flew into Minnesota for meetings and hearings, and opponents even formed a new interest group, Recycle Smart Minnesota. But the DFL lawmakers who were thinking about introducing the container deposit bill say lack of time is the main reason they’ll hold off.” In other words … the people have spoken.
It’s been too long since we’ve had a laugh at the e-pulltab farce. Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib says: “Minnesota’s ill-fated experiment with electronic pulltab games has hit another roadblock, this time a fight between two key players that is threatening to disrupt e-gambling across the state. The state’s largest distributor of electronic pulltab games — games initially destined to fund the Minnesota Vikings stadium — has won a temporary restraining order against the games’ manufacturer, Acres 4.0. Acres threatened to disconnect its computer servers at bars and restaurants across the state if the distributor, Express Games MN, didn’t make its overdue payments.” Who knew there was anything to “disrupt”?
At MPR, Tim Nelson says: “State officials and the game’s providers projected that there would be 15,400 of the devices in 2,500 bars. According to the latest data from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, there were just 1,186 devices in 285 locations at the end of 2013. The results forced the state to reboot its plans to finance the new Vikings stadium with gambling taxes, and has turned instead to corporate taxes to pay most of the debt service on bonds sold to investors last week. New gambling is still expected to pay a small part of the debt service.” But it’s still a terrific deal that will keep us “major league.”
Strib columnist Gail Rosenblum gets into something a lot of politically aware people are thinking: “If Tina Smith — named Tuesday as Gov. Mark Dayton’s running mate — lands the job of lieutenant governor, we could be in for one of the most interesting political upgrades in a long time. … It also would be a shame if Smith can’t continue to lead boisterously in the lieutenant governor role, if elected.” Even more to the presumed point, it’s hard to imagine someone like Smith taking the job without a portfolio that positions her for another, larger step.
Minnesota’s impact on the U.S. Winter Olympics team isn’t lost on The New York Times. Jere Longman writes: “Warroad, population 1,781, a civic snow globe six miles from the Canadian border, has as many indoor rinks (two) as red lights. The town has sent seven hockey players to the Olympics since 1956 — four of them from the same family, the Christians — and each one has returned with a medal. The hope is for a pair of golds at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.”
This does NOT cover the cost of deep-fried, chocolate-covered cheese curds. Stribber Paul Walsh says: “It will take another buck for folks to get into the Minnesota State Fair, officials said Wednesday. Tickets at the gate of the Great Minnesota Get-Together will now cost $13 for adults and $11 for seniors (65 and older) and kids (5-12). Children younger than 5 are still admitted for free. … Country Living magazine’s latest selection of the five best state fairs gave blue ribbons to Minnesota, Iowa, New York, Alaska and Texas.”
Be on the lookout for drowsy drivers behind the wheel of rolling propane bombs … Don Davis of the Forum News Service says: “The Obama administration Wednesday extended an order giving truckers more time on the road to deliver propane to areas like the Upper Midwest where it is in short supply. Minnesota also is asking farmers with extra propane to share it with those who heat homes with it and cannot obtain any. … The Wednesday federal order allows truckers hauling propane to stay on the road longer.”
No mercy for cop-killing … Amy Forliti of the AP reports: “The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed all but one of the guilty verdicts — including the most serious conviction of first-degree murder — against a man who admitted to shooting Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Dewey in 2009. Dewey died about 18 months after he was shot by Thomas Lee Fairbanks, who authorities say fired at Dewey after a night of drinking and then engaged in a standoff with police. At trial, Fairbanks admitted he shot Dewey, but said he was drunk and high so there was no intent.”