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MnDOT compensates Clear Channel $7.3M for five billboards

Ramsey County won’t charge Nienstedt; GOP still unhappy with new anti-bullying language; Target ripped for swimsuit ad; cable’s nudity stereotypes criticized; bill suspending wolf hunt advances; and more.

Of all the ways government spends money … Frederick Melo of the PiPress reports: “A $4.3 million legal settlement paid by the state of Minnesota to Clear Channel Communications, one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies, for a digital billboard has some billboard critics seeing red. … Through eminent domain proceedings in Ramsey County District Court, MnDOT compensated Clear Channel $750,000 apiece for four conventional, double-sided billboards, for a total of $3 million. After three years of legal haggling, MnDOT recently settled with Clear Channel for the last of the five — a digital billboard — but at about five times the cost. Advocates with Scenic America, a group that fights visual blight, worry that the $4.3 million legal settlement may set a high bar nationwide.” I’d love to see the minutes of those negotiations.

The allegation always seemed a bit suspect … Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: “Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has declined to file charges against Archbishop John Nienstedt, who in December was accused of groping a boy several years ago at a public event. Choi’s office cited ‘insufficient evidence’ of a crime, according to a news release Tuesday. Nienstedt … said he would voluntarily step aside from public ministry while police investigated the allegation that he touched a boy on the buttocks during a group confirmation photo session in 2009. However, Nienstedt continued to serve as archbishop throughout the investigation.”

Chao Xiong’s Strib story says:It ‘seems unlikely’ that Nienstedt would choose that moment to ‘sexually touch a random boy openly in front of another clergy member, a deacon, and numerous other confirmands while the confirmands’ family members were preparing to document the moment in photographs,’ said a memo written by Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft, the office’s criminal division director.”

The latest version of the anti-bullying bill still isn’t making GOP legislators happy. In the Strib, Abby Simons says: “Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, co-author of the proposed Safe and Supportive Schools Act, presented an edited bill Tuesday that in part tightened the definition of bullying to a pattern of ‘intimidating, threatening, abusive or harming conduct’ and cut expensive or onerous mandates. The changed language didn’t soothe Republican members of the Senate Education Committee.”

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Target takes a ripping for a (very) bad Photoshop fail on an already thin swimsuit model. At Jezebel, Rebecca Rose writes, “The ‘Xhilaration® Junior’s Midkini 2-Piece Swimsuit — Leopard Print’ featured on Target’s website seems cute enough — until you look at the bottom of the suit. It looks like someone has crudely chopped out the crotch area with scissors. (The arm in front of her also seems insanely thinned and stretched out. There’s also a piece of her hip missing next to it.)”

Locally based conservative blogger Ed Morrissey is upset … with nudity on HBO: “[T]he ‘truth-telling’ aspect of all this skin has a limit. That limit is the female gender, and mostly those women who fit within the current cultural female ideal. While the series Girls on HBO gets some criticism for the amount of screen time Lena Dunham spends unclothed, she at least provides an underrepresented body type. Almost all of the nudity supplied in these other cable shows feature women of a particular body type — young, slim, and buxom — and mainly from actors who aren’t particularly well known otherwise. That was almost entirely the case on The Sopranos, and largely the case on True Detective, The Tudors, and many other cable shows.” It’s a point worth arguing.

An “Internet marketer” goes after the so-called Amazon tax in a Strib commentary. Says Bryan Hansel: “When a company has a physical presence in the state, it has to collect sales taxes. Basically, the law says that because my website runs an advertisement from Amazon, I’m part of As an independent business owner, I can’t imagine the logical loopholes made to come to that conclusion. While I believe that Minnesotans who owe use tax on their Internet purchases should follow the law and pay the tax, we know the ‘nexus’ law failed. The primary target of the law, Amazon, stopped doing advertising business with Minnesotans.”

In the Duluth News Tribune, Sam Cook writes: “A bill that would suspend Minnesota’s wolf hunt was passed by a Senate committee this afternoon. The bill, passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, would put the hunt on hold ‘to study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population and to implement the wolf management plan,’ according to its wording.”

Eeeeewwww … Says Mike Hughlett in the Strib: “Luoma Egg Ranch, an egg producer near Finlayson, Minn., was fined $95,000 by state pollution regulators for violations stemming from chicken manure spills. Luoma failed to report and attempted to cover up the liquid manure discharges from its egg-laying operation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Tuesday. The company also improperly disposed of dead chickens, another violation.” Just bacon and toast this morning, thanks.