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Mayor Hodges on LRT tunnels: ‘a fundamental failure of fairness’

Now we really get to brawl … . Pat Doyle of the Strib says, “Over the protests of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, a group of metro leaders Wednesday endorsed sinking the region’s biggest light-rail line in tunnels in the Kenilworth recreational corridor. The leaders voted 11-2 for the plan, with Hodges denouncing it as ‘a fundamental failure of fairness’ to her constituents.” In particular her well-connected, upscale constituents.

“Under oath …” Madeleine Baran of MPR says, “Archbishop John Nienstedt will testify under oath today about his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, marking the first time that the leader of the Twin Cities archdiocese has been forced to answer questions about his role in the scandal. … Jeff Anderson, an aggressive lawyer who first exposed the archdiocese’s cover-up of abuse in the 1980s and has been investigating the archdiocese ever since, will lead the questioning of Nienstedt. Anderson said he expects to release portions of the deposition within 30 days.”  

Check this off … The AP says, “Minnesota’s beef producers have rejected a proposed increase in the check-off fees they pay for research and promotion. The Minnesota Beef Research and Promotion Council had asked the state to hold a referendum on increasing the current state check-off by an additional $1 for each animal they sell. But the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says 63 percent of the 1,525 voting producers opposed the proposal, while 37 percent voted for it.”

The pride of Irish Hopkins, David Carr of The New York Times, weighs in on the Glen Taylor buy of the Strib. Says Carr, “It was a good newspaper, not a great one, but it kept me in narrative with the place I called home and eventually, I decided I’d like to be part of something like that. I never worked there – I worked at [a] local weekly – but we still gathered around it, complaining about its shortcomings and proclivities even as we read most of it every day. It not only hung onto that heritage, but has become one of the better regional newspapers in the country, partly because so many others have withered to irrelevance.”

At KARE-TV, Jay Olstad asks U of M prof Jane Kirtley what she thinks of the move. “ ‘My immediate reaction is yet another billionaire buying a quality newspaper,’ said Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota. Kirtley said she has a skeptical view of people who buy newspapers who do not have experience in the news business. ‘Is he doing this because of his commitment to robust journalism in the community or is this a power play, is this about control? I think we’ll have to wait to see,’ she said of Taylor.” Healthy skepticism is always appropriate.

Cronyism … in the solar biz? On the CleanTechnica website Zachary Shahan writes, “State-based solar incentives that require local solar products be used may be driving up solar costs considerably. Of course, this sort of issue is not exclusive to solar power and it is not exclusive to the United States, but there does seem to be fairly good evidence that it is keeping the price of solar artificially high in some places. Let’s take a look at Minnesota, which has Made in Minnesota solar photovoltaic legislation. A solar expert I’ve been in communication with is convinced that this policy creates higher installed prices, gives fewer options to customers, and creates fewer jobs for Minnesota.”

Speaking of alternative energy … . Paul Walsh of the Strib reports, “It’s back to prison for a North Oaks wind energy pioneer, this time convicted of defrauding $1.5 million from investors and using some of the money for personal expenses. Federal court jurors in Minneapolis found Gregory J. Jaunich, 52, guilty Tuesday on five counts of mail fraud. … Jaunich also failed to reveal to potential investors that he was under criminal investigation by federal law enforcement for overbilling Xcel Energy for wind energy production.” A minor oversight!

Takin’ it to the Guv … . Patrick Condon of the Strib says, “Medical marijuana supporters are airing a new ad on Minnesota TV stations that criticizes Gov. Mark Dayton for not supporting a proposal at the Capitol to legalize it. The ad features a Minnesota mother with a five-year-old son who suffers a rare disorder she said causes him multiple seizures every day. … In the ad, Garin urges viewers to ‘tell Gov. Dayton to support Paxton and stop blocking access to medical marijuana.’ “

One of the most refreshingly blunt entrepreneurs is not going all shy about his old company. In the PiPress Julio Ojeda-Zapata reports, “[Geek Squad founder Robert] Stephens has released a candid memo he sent to Best Buy management not long before heading out the door. The retailer was, and still is, struggling to survive in an age of booming Internet commerce. Stephens intended his memo to serve as a call to arms and a blueprint for Best Buy’s future. … In the memo, Stephens called for: … Free tech support. ‘Anything you purchase from us should come with some level of support for free beyond anything the manufacturer provides.’ ”

Just about everyone’s sentiments, exactly … Did you see KARE-TV anchor Rena Sargianopoulos’ reaction to the possibility of snow for the Twins opener … on April 7?

And who can accuse her of overreacting? The latest from MPR’s Paul Huttner:  “Here are the latest headlines for our incoming major late season winter storm.

  • Winter storm watches likely upgraded to warnings this afternoon.

  • Latest storm tracks favor heavy snow totals over or close to the Twin Cities metro

  • Wintry (icy?) mix possible Thursday morning rush, mixed precipitation Thursday

  • Heavy snowfall looks more likely Thursday night into Friday morning

  • Snowfall rates could reach 1 to 2 inches per hour Thursday night/Friday morning (thunder snow is possible)

  • Snow melts this weekend with temperatures in the 40s; temps in the 60s to near 70 degrees may return late next week!”

And after that? The May vortex … ?

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/02/2014 - 02:12 pm.

    Perfectly appropriate

    I saw it live, and I’m with Rena all the way on this one…

  2. Submitted by Todd Adler on 04/02/2014 - 04:21 pm.

    LRT Tunnel

    Can someone explain to me how a tunnel is “a fundamental failure of fairness” when it comes to the SWLRT? I seem to be missing Mayor Hodge’s point on this one.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/02/2014 - 06:09 pm.

      What she said at the hearing in addition to the quote was…

      “St. Louis Park is going to get everything they want. Minneapolis, on the other hand, and what you are asking me to do right now on behalf of Minneapolis is to lose on absolutely everything we cared about and put forward.”

      Who the mayor considers “we” is another matter. Those Kenwood residents believe their wishes should outweigh all other factors.

      As others besides myself have observed, if they’d run this thing through a ghetto, it would have sailed right on through. Those Kenwood folks in the 1% would have been all for it.

      Nearly everybody hates this SWLRT line, it seems, each for his own custom reason.

    • Submitted by Keith Morris on 04/02/2014 - 07:31 pm.

      I don’t get it either.

      The main point of contention should not be the tunnel: that’s probably not even a top ten issue. How about the fact that the ridership numbers prove this shouldn’t be built and is a waste of $1.6 billion plus annual operations costs? Or that city residents won’t be able to access any job outside of walking distance of suburban stations? Or that many bus lines in Mpls-St Paul run 20-30 minutes while suburbanites will be able to walk to their car, ride the LRT and walk to their downtown job while city residents are still waiting for their bus to the LRT?

  3. Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/02/2014 - 06:20 pm.


    It’s not at all uncommon to have snow in April, and I don’t know why anyone would think this year, of all years, would be any different.

    Yes, it has been a long and cold winter. Long on whining, too.

  4. Submitted by David Therkelsen on 04/02/2014 - 10:12 pm.

    Billionnaire buyer of Strib

    Jane Kirtley is a most astute observer of the media scene. She’s been right a lot of times.
    But I am baffled by her skepticism of the Glen Taylor bid to purchase the Strib, on the grounds of his billions.
    The last two generations of ownership – Wayzata Financial Partners and Avista Capital Partners – had no experience in the news business and made no secret that they viewed the Strib as an investment, not as any kind of “higher calling.”
    Taylor has demonstrated his commitment to a strong Minnesota. He bought a struggling sports franchise and created a second one, for women’s basketball. He served honorably in the Legislature. He’s supported, with quiet leadership and his checkbook, dozens of community good causes. I’m going with the starting assumption that his commitment to “robust journalism” will be at least as strong and probably far more so than the recent generations of ownership.
    Incidentally, John Cowles, Sr. was a very wealthy man, yet I don’t know of anyone in Minnesota history with a stronger commitment to robust journalism.

  5. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 04/02/2014 - 10:20 pm.

    Rich and well-connected?

    I am sick of hearing that Minneapolis residents opposed to running 220 trains a day through their neighborhood, and taking a chance on messing up Cedar Lake, are rich and well-connected.

    Unlike most who make that assumption, I lived in Cedar-Isles-Dean for six years; that freight-rail line was right out my kitchen window (I was separated by one slender, tapering city lot). I was a white-collar worker with a union card. Nor were the rest of us up Burnham Road on the side with the tracks rich folks. We all were middle-class people working for a living. The folks on the south side of the tracks also are pretty middle class.

    There are many reasons to oppose putting commuter rail along the existing freight-rail line. Among them:
    — The expense of building tunnels.
    — The line will miss the hundreds — maybe soon thousands — of young folks inclined to use transit who live in the hundreds of apartment units being built above the Midtown Greenway, which is, in fact, a railroad trench. Not all of those young professionals who are presumed to flock there work in downtown Minneapolis; many of the engineering jobs, for one example, are in the southwest suburbs.
    — No one seems to have discussed this much, if at all, but why not move the freight back to the Midtown trench (there’s still room for a bike trail, too) by building an overpass for Hwy. 55, which cut the freight line to the east? That overpass has gotta be cheaper than the tunnels.
    — Instead of roaring through the middle of the city and St. Louis Park, why not extend the Hiawatha line by bending it west around the airport (maybe tunneling under 494) to Apple Valley or somewhere down there and then swing up through Hopkins and into north Minneapolis before coming back downtown?

    Rigid insistence on putting 220 trains a day where no one wants them doesn’t make for a very harmonious metropolitan area. Not does making unwarranted assumptions about the people who think that such placement is a bad idea.

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