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Minnesota’s top D.C. Dems turn on V.A.’s Shinseki

More SWLRT hurdles; mosquito optimization engaged; Taylor one step closer to Strib ownership; and more.

Minnesota Congressional Dems collectively decided yesterday the head of the scandal-plagued VA must goThe AP reports, “Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken is calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Franken said Wednesday that an inspector general’s report on VA medical care is ‘so troubling’ that the department ‘needs new leadership.’” Later, U.S. Reps Collin Peterson and Tim Walz joined in; colleague Rick Nolan was there a few days ago. All are up for re-election this year.

When in doubt, or when you just don’t want to be the one making a decision … call for another studyLaura Yuen of MPR reports, “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says it will withhold support for the proposed Southwest light rail transit line, setting up yet another showdown. Park board commissioners last week asked the Metropolitan Council to take a deeper look at sending the passenger trains through a tunnel … .” The action could further delay the billion-dollar-plus line.

Meanwhile … Shannon Prather of the Strib is saying. “More than two dozen Brooklyn Park homes could fall to the wrecking ball and nearly 100 property owners might lose land for a road expansion and, ultimately, a light-rail line in the north metro. Every landowner along a two-mile stretch would be affected under a Hennepin County plan to widen West Broadway Avenue and create space for the Bottineau LRT, which would run from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park.” But … do any of them have a, uh, close, functioning relationship with anyone in local government?

The purchase agreement has been signed. The AP says, “Minnesota Timberwolves owner and printing company billionaire Glen Taylor has signed a purchase agreement to buy the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Star Tribune reports publisher Mike Klingensmith wrote in an internal company memo that Taylor and the newspaper’s owners signed the agreement Wednesday. Klingensmith said he expects the sale to close around June 30.”

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As is customary in these moments … . Adam Belz and Rochelle Olson of the Strib write, “[Taylor] could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Klingensmith declined to discuss details of the agreement, other than to say that they haven’t changed since both parties signed a letter of intent for a possible purchase almost two months ago.” They could be buying and selling a frozen pizza operation for all the higher standards of journalism on display.

If you were outside at dusk last night you know … they’re baaack. Says Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV, “The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said over the Memorial Day weekend there was an explosion in the mosquito population. Before last weekend, Mosquito Control said there were almost no mosquitoes in the area. Now, the battle to track and get rid of these pests shifts into high gear.” If you had to choose: Sleet or mosquitoes?

The Strib’s Pat Condon offers a deeply reported feature on those left out of Minnesota’s uniquely restrictive medical-marijuana bill. Because the penalties for having leaf pot actually escalate for those also using state-approved oils and liquids, those who need the foliage are opting out and staying in the black market.  

Think of drought and pests as terrorists … . Dan Gunderson of MPR writes, “Hundreds of farmers in the Upper Midwest are collecting data about their fields with drones this year, hoping the information will make their farm operations more productive. They’re embracing drones, even as Federal Aviation Administration rules regulating their use remain unclear.”