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Poll: Dayton with double-digit lead

U of M bonding priorities; Kline working on health care alternative; greenhouse faces heating-cost spike; manufacturing conditions improve; stadium critics target City Attorney Segal; and more.

Gov. Mark Dayton and running mate Tina Smith
Office of the Governor

Do most people even know who his “rivals” are? A KSTP-TV Poll says Gov. Dayton has a double-digit leads over GOP challengers. In the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger says: “According to the poll, which had a margin of sampling error of 4.2 percentage points, the governor has between 17  to 21 percentage point leads over the Republicans hoping to oust him. Against each of the six Republican candidates the pollster matched against Dayton, the governor netted more than 51 percent of the support and the Republican hopefuls garnered 34 percent or less.”

The U of M will not be among the lesser subjects of bonding beneficence … Says Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress: “University officials have noted the focus of this year’s proposal is upgrading science and engineering facilities as well as keeping up existing buildings. The U would pitch in an additional $66.3 million to various projects. In Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed $986 million bonding bill, he set aside $118.7 million for U construction and upkeep projects.”

This ought to be interesting … Stribber Corey Mitchell writes: “Minnesota congressman John Kline is offering scant details on Republican plans to craft an alternative to President Obama’s health care law. Kline met privately on Friday with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and fellow Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Dave Camp of Michigan on Friday to begin gathering the party’s best ideas.” How far down the list of ideas is just turning the whole thing back over to Cigna and UnitedHealth?

Chris Hubbuch of the La Crosse Tribune has a story of a tomato greenhouse trying to stay ahead of the winter’s brutal heating costs. “Heating is the largest single expense at the Tomato Patch, where tomatoes grow year-round in five greenhouses. The 28-year-old family business, commonly known as Melrose Tomatoes, even has a direct pipeline from the fuel supplier across the highway. … Kreidermacher installed corn-burning heaters, but the ethanol market sent corn prices out of reach. She began making her own fuel pellets, mixing sawdust with soybean chaff or dry prairie grasses. But with drought and farmers planting as much corn as possible, the prairie grass supply went to feed cattle this year.”

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Also from across the river … . Phillip Bock of the AP writes: “Students who made their way through the lunch line that day took fruit cocktail, broccoli, baby carrots or an apple to fit the [Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act] requirement. However, while the legislation requires students take a fruit and vegetable, it cannot force them to eat it — and many students choose not to. ‘We had very little waste before, now we have a lot of waste,’ [food service director Lynette] Zalec said. Zalec said there is a learning curve with the new legislation as school districts figure out how to offer food students will eat while working within the government framework for acceptable offerings.” In the old days, we’d just declare beer a vegetable and be done with it.

Calling Marilyn HagertyBree Fowler of the AP says: “Olive Garden has a plan to win back customers: a new logo and yet more menu changes. In a call with analysts on Monday, executives at Darden Restaurants Inc. expressed confidence they could bring about a ‘brand renaissance’ at the Italian chain with a new look and updated menu that presented food with ‘a sense of flair and sophistication.’ ”  Next … Brasserie Cracker Barrel.

I’m sure it’ll improve once we can see out the front windows … Dee DePass of the Strib reports: “Despite blizzards, ice storms and floods, U.S. manufacturing conditions improved significantly in February, bringing relief after a surprise slowing in January, according to a widely-watched report Monday from the Institute for Supply Management. The weather-weary Midwest bucked the national trend, however, with a slight slowdown in growth.”

Vikings stadium after-shocks continue. Brandt Williams at MPR says: “Critics of the billion-dollar Vikings stadium deal are expected to oppose the reappointment of Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal during a hearing [Monday afternoon] at City Hall. Segal has said, contrary to the city’s charter, Minneapolis was not required to hold a public vote on the use of city tax dollars to fund the stadium, because those dollars are controlled by the state. In 2012, state legislators approved a measure to funnel $150 million of local sales tax revenues to fund the project.” She only wanted to keep us “major league.”

Cue “Baby Blue” … Aaron Rupar of City Pages says: “Just before 6 p.m. Saturday, Roberto Ortiz, a 22-year-old Minneapolis resident, was pulled over in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights after an officer observed him commit unspecified traffic violations. Ortiz consented to let an officer search his 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe. Inside, allegedly, was 25 pounds of crystal meth, with a street value of a whopping $1.75 million.”