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Nienstedt deposition ends ‘abruptly,’ ‘heatedly’

Twin Cities foreclosures decline; new-home inventories low; McCutcheon vs. FEC reaction; Southwest LRT fight; and more. 

Well, that went well… Chao Xiong of the Strib writes, “Wednesday’s four-hour deposition of Archbishop John Nienstedt ended ‘abruptly’ and ‘heatedly’ when the church was pressed to turn over more of its files of credibly accused priests to police, said an attorney representing a man suing the church for sex abuse. Nienstedt and church attorneys failed to deliver all the files that a judge ordered them to produce for a suit in Ramsey County District Court, and then ended the deposition when they were pressured to turn over documents to police.”

The foreclosure crisis. Over? Jim Buchta of the Strib says, “With house prices rising and the economy on the mend, Minnesota’s eight-year foreclosure crisis appears to be nearing the end. The latest sign: the number of Twin Cities homes lost to foreclosure fell by nearly half in January compared to a year ago, said CoreLogic, a research firm. ‘We saw an incredible drop,’ said Julie Gugin, executive director of the Minnesota Homeownership Center…”

At MPR Annie Baxter reports on a resurgence in spec construction. “New home inventories are slim, too. There were 421 finished vacant new homes for sale in the fourth quarter of 2013, less than a third of the supply available during the same period nine years earlier, according to the consulting firm Metrostudy. … Even just a few years ago, ‘the market was telling builders, ‘Stay away. We don’t need your services. We don’t need you to build homes.’ said housing economist Elliot Eisenberg. ‘Times have turned.’ ”

Also at MPR, a round-up of reaction to yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the McCutcheon campaign finance case. Says Brett Neely, “…in an era when deep-pocketed donors can already contribute tens of millions of dollars to super PACs and outside groups that are formally unaffiliated with a candidate, how much do those limits matter? ‘It makes the playing field a little less level, a little more uneven,’ said DFL Sen. Al Franken, who’s long sought a constitutional amendment to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that was the precursor to McCutcheon.” Everyone in the delegation can add another couple hours a week to their fund-raising calls.

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Andy Luger, the new U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, has ambitious goals. The AP reports, “Minnesota’s new chief federal prosecutor said Wednesday he’s launching initiatives to combat human trafficking, heroin, fraud, violent crime and identity theft, and he’s already reaching out to local authorities statewide for their ideas. … his plan for a renewed emphasis on human trafficking is one initiative that came from his dialogue with law enforcement.”

Sorry, Rabbi… Mark Sherman of the AP writes, “Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled Wednesday against a Minnesota rabbi whose frequent complaints about an airline got him tossed out of its frequent flier program. The court dismissed a lawsuit from Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg over Northwest Airlines’ decision to strip him of his top-level frequent flier status and then end his membership. Northwest, since absorbed by Delta Air Lines Inc., said it cut off Ginsberg because he complained too much. … Northwest said that before it took action, it awarded Ginsberg $1,925 in travel credit vouchers, 78,500 bonus miles, a voucher for his son and $491 in cash reimbursements.”

Ok… now. Bill Salisbury’s PiPress story says, “State Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans advised taxpayers to ‘file now’ on Wednesday, a day earlier than the original target date for his department to be ready to handle the tax law changes. One in 10 filers is eligible for the new tax benefits. At a Capitol news conference with Gov. Mark Dayton, Frans said the Revenue Department has updated its software systems, tax forms and schedules and confirmed that 16 major tax software vendors have adapted their products to accommodate the revisions.”

Laura Yuen’s MPR story on the Southwest LRT fight includes these items: “[Mayor] Hodges’ [negative] position signals a battle ahead between the state’s largest city and the Metropolitan Council, which is planning the project. The regional agency is trying to secure the approval of all the affected cities on the nearly 16-mile line to Eden Prairie. But project planners believe the Met Council could proceed without Minneapolis’ support. … [Kenwood resident Sarah] Brenner echoed the arguments of many others in Minneapolis, who told the Corridor Management Committee that it makes no sense to build a light-rail line that bypasses dense areas such as Uptown.”

Another mug shot classic… Emily Eveland of City Pages reports, “Some thieves target diamonds. Others favor expensive paintings. And then there’s Leonard Keith Houle of Forest Lake, who broke into his ex-wife’s home and went straight for the cheese — literally. The intoxicated 56-year-old was caught stealing a block of Kraft cheese from his ex-wife’s refrigerator in the early hours of the morning on March 28, according to a criminal complaint. … Lino Lakes police responded to the initial call and found Houle hiding in a neighbor’s garage with a block of Kraft cheese in his arms. The report says Houle had bloodshot, watery eyes and smelled strongly of alcohol.”