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Minneapolis voters may OK boozing more, or eating less, in local restaurants

Tardy corn planting; Big Insurance loses; if you can’t make money selling tacos and pizza …; and more.

Minneapolis has an antiquated rule requiring neighborhood restaurants to serve at least 70 percent food, to balance the profitable 30 percent booze, on the closing-time theory that more vittles will sop up that liquor. Restaurants have long complained about it, and the city is on the verge of changing its charter to do away with the strict numerical standard. Neighborhoods support the change, says the Strib’s Maya Rao, which will likely be on the ballot this fall.

Better put a wiggle in it, we’ll be talking State Fair in another couple weeks … . Tom Webb of the PiPress says, “Minnesota farmers made a lot of planting progress last week, but are still far behind the usual pace, with time is running short for planting some crops. USDA said Tuesday that 81 percent of the state’s corn acres had been planted as of Sunday. That’s up from 53 percent a week earlier, due to warm and dry weather. But it’s well behind the usual pace. In a normal year, 92 percent of the corn crop would be in the ground by now.”

It was The State of Minnesota v. two big insurance companies and the State won, more or less. Matt Sepic at MPR says, “Two life insurance companies have reached settlements with Minnesota officials who accused the companies of failing to pay up when policyholders died. MetLife will pay the state a settlement of at least $1.5 million settlement and Transamerica will pay at least $2.5 million, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said. In many cases, he said, the companies stopped paying retirement benefits based on a policyholder’s death, but never tracked down the life insurance beneficiaries who were owed a payout.” Classy.

Is this what you call “the will of the people”?  The AP reports, “A former state lawmaker suing to block the [new Senate office] building failed to meet a deadline for posting an $11 million surety bond. That bond would protect taxpayers from financial losses if ex-Rep. Jim Knoblach doesn’t prevail and delays mount. The Court of Appeals ruled last week that it would dismiss the case without such financial guarantee. Knoblach’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, told the Associated Press that he will file a formal appeal with the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.”

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If you’d ask me to guess I’d say owning a bunch of Taco Bells and Pizza Huts would be a solid little business … . But Jim Hammerand of the Business Journal writes, “A subsidiary of Golden Valley-based Border Foods Inc. sold 54 of its pizzerias in December to Texas-based Muy Cos., which owns and operates Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Wendy’s restaurants. The 140-employee subsidiary, Sky Ventures, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization earlier this month to sell another six Pizza Huts to Muy, a plan that needs the court’s approval.” There’s something in there about being required to make — horror! — significant capital improvements.

The GleanEditorializing on the passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act, the Strib says, “For the women’s movement to truly start moving again, action will be needed in a lot more places than the State Capitol. Average people will need to be engaged in making change, as their parents’ and grandparents’ generations were before them. [Dan] McGrath of TakeAction said last week that by his measure, the strongest anti-poverty engine in Minnesota today is the activism of this state’s women.” Ditto for bringing sanity to gun laws.

It’s hard to believe in this day and age, but businesses don’t have to recycle. By January 2016, it will be mandatory, the Strib’s Josephine Marcotty writes. Concurrently, county recycling goals bump up from 60 percent of waste to 75 percent. Minnesota currently rocks a “long-stagnant” 46 percent.

Now, I’m not saying its a pattern out there on the St. Croix, but … . Jim Anderson of the Strib says, “A former Washington County real estate developer and business owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Minneapolis for tax evasion and mail and wire fraud. Charges filed last week against Bartolomea J. Montanari, 57, formerly of Bayport, say he filed false tax documents and tried to hide thousands of dollars in income in part by creating a shell company from which he drew money for personal expenses.” I’ll bet anything there’s a gaudy boat in there somewhere.

Today in charter school talk … . Tim Post of MPR reports, “The turmoil at Community School of Excellence follows years of concerns raised by charter critics and supporters that it is difficult to determine who to hold accountable when there are problems in Minnesota’s 150 charter schools. … Dozens of charters have closed in Minnesota over the last two decades, but typically after they encounter financial problems, said Myron Orfield, a charter critic and researcher at the University of Minnesota.” The PiPress’s Christopher Magan profiles Avalon School, a St. Paul charter where teachers run things.

One day after the Strib did a piece on subsidized North Minneapolis housing being unavailable to people of means, the Strib’s Jim Buchta profiles a developer actually building affordable housing near downtown. The woman-bites-dog story follows Bianca Fine, who’s 256-unit project is in Cedar-Riverside. The AFL-CIO is providing $33 million in financing.

On the pot beat … Jesse Marx of City Pages writes, “Staff at the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy provided early technical support for a medical marijuana research study that became the basis of the bill awaiting Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature. If that news isn’t surprising, consider this: Although the board takes no official position on the medical efficacy of the plant, it has made the process of reforming marijuana laws in Minnesota more difficult.” Prediction: Within five years it’ll be hard to believe we were having these discussions.