And a pony for every child … Frederick Melo of the PiPress reports: “A 400-room hotel could replace the old Ramsey County jail or the West Publishing building on Kellogg Boulevard. A movie theater, retail center and towers of offices and housing with above-ground parking could line each side of Wabasha Street. The Seven Corners, Custom House and Central Station sites would be so adorned with activity, they would be almost unrecognizable. For a downtown that saw its last department store close last year, a task force of St. Paul business leaders is dreaming big. So big, in fact, they readily admit that not all of their ambitious plans will come together.”
The New York Times sent James Oestreich to town for Osmo Vänskä’s return … as conductor. He writes: “At first glance, Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony may seem an odd choice to kick off a celebration. A probing, deeply serious, almost melancholic work, it raises many questions in its early movements but provides few answers. … Yet on second thought, maybe this work, with its dark undercurrents and its persistent questing, is the perfect complement to the orchestra’s situation at the moment, bathed in uncertainty and by no means guaranteed to end happily.”
Beware, ye tanners … . In the Strib, Cody Nelson and Danielle Dullinger write: “The pretty lights of tanning beds and the warm glow of a suntan, especially during a long, gloomy winter, can be almost irresistible — especially for teenage girls. It’s a lure that has proved deadly for many. The incidence of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — has surged nationwide, especially in young women, in the past few years, health professionals warn. … With that in mind, several Minnesota legislators have introduced a bill that would prohibit anyone under 18 from using indoor tanning beds.”
This sort of thing needs cleaning up … Randy Furst of the Strib reports: “A man who was fired from his job as a mortgage specialist after a background check found he’d been jailed 14 years earlier can proceed with his lawsuit against the background check company, a federal judge in Minneapolis ruled this week. It turned out the man, charged with a misdemeanor, was never jailed but put on probation. The case was dismissed a year later. The suit is being litigated as state lawmakers consider legislation to revise court regulations on expunging records, including criminal histories.”
Is it Iraq or the $150,000? Maura Lerner of the Strib writes: “Student and faculty activists are joining forces to pressure the University of Minnesota to rescind a speaking invitation to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is scheduled to deliver an April 17 lecture at Northrop Auditorium. … the University Senate has scheduled a vote next week on a resolution urging the school to disinvite Rice because of her role in the wartime policies of the Bush administration. Another of the critics’ objections: her speaking fee of $150,000.” What’s Dick Cheney’s going rate?
At MPR, Laura Yuen reports on a Met Council survey asking why people of color aren’t using area parks: “According to a new study from the council, African-Americans fear violent crime, African immigrants worry they’ll lose their kids or drown, Asians wish to avoid snakes and bees (and getting lost), and Latinos are concerned about contracting viruses through the water. Of course, the study dives into other barriers to park use for minority groups, such as a lack of awareness and time.”
No doubt he’ll be back on that “IRS scandal” as soon as he’s done with this … Says Elizabeth Stawicki at MPR: “The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee is turning up the heat on Minnesota and several other states with troubled health insurance exchanges. U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California is sending letters to 10 governors, including Gov. Mark Dayton, and the District of Columbia’s mayor, his office said. The letters seek internal documents and communications between state employees and contractors and Obama Administration officials relating to their insurance exchanges from May 1, 2013 to present. Issa also seeks audits of MNsure’s development, readiness or security back to July, 2012.” And what’s the cost of all that?
The Rangers speak! An editorial in the Mesabi Daily News says: “Gov. Mark Dayton has always expressed himself as a strong supporter of rural Minnesota. The governor has also proclaimed the ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra of former Gov. Rudy Perpich of the Iron Range. Gov. Dayton has an opportunity to stand behind his oft-repeated pledge as an advocate for rural areas and also for jobs in Greater Minnesota by reversing his stand on $100 million in funding this legislative session for a Border to Border Broadband Fund. We implore the governor to do just that in the next couple of days. Minnesota, supposedly the land of progressivity, is a state with a canyon-like broadband divide between urban and rural areas.”
Finally, if I may, I’d like to say goodbye and many thanks to my (exceedingly) long-suffering editor, Don Effenberger, who is leaving the daily/hourly deadline grind today after … well, after a damn long time at it. The relationship between writers and editors is a constant exercise in skepticism, patience and trust, and Don, who has always brought good humor to his oversight, has been an editor with whom I’ve always enjoyed working. And I don’t say that very often.
Don assures me he won’t be wasting his free time with The Devil’s Game (golf), but instead has “lots of interests,” including grandchildren, travel and volunteer work to keep him busy.
Good luck, Don, and thanks for your work. I’ll miss you.