Despite Minneapolis’ decision Southwest LRT still not a done deal

I’m betting the mayor has taken some interesting calls today. Joe Kimball has our coverage. Meanwhile, Stribber Pat Doyle says, “Minneapolis has struck a deal with the Metropolitan Council over the design of the Southwest Light Rail line that includes removing one of two tunnels in the Kenilworth corridor and adding a new station. … The new plans would anger some residents of the Minneapolis Kenilworth corridor, where the light-rail trains would run at ground level instead of in a tunnel north of a water channel as was planned.”

At MPR, Curtis Gilbert offers a quick Q&A, “Is the rail line project moving ahead, then? Not necessarily. Half of the project budget is supposed to come from the federal government. Those grants are awarded through a competitive process. And it’s only become more competitive as other cities around the country have gotten in line, while Minneapolis and the Met Council have been fighting over this one. … We also can’t say with 100 percent certainty that this deal is actually a deal. As of yesterday, several members of the Minneapolis City Council still hadn’t even been briefed.”

Related … It’s (very) long, but if you want to develop a thorough understanding of the LRT and other transit operations in the metro area, check out Dave Markle’s post on Streets.mn. He says, “ … figures suggest that the Blue Line currently runs at roughly maximum capability during peak hours, a limitation created by placing the tracks on a busy Downtown Minneapolis street grid where the train must stop at semaphores. That’s one of the shortcomings of the Blue Line project: nickled-and-dimed, rather than have the dollars needed to tunnel the system downtown. As a friend originally from the East Coast says, ‘They do everything half-assed around here.’ ”

Give ’em credit for taking up the fight. At the Strib, Kim McGuire says, “Minnesota home health care workers are expected to announce plans Tuesday afternoon to file for union election. Their effort could be an uphill battle. … Local unions believe that about 30,000 state-paid home child-care providers and home health workers are primed to organize. Their drive comes at a time when the state is trying to hold down rates and workers have had little success pressing for higher subsidies.”

You have to assume the cops have heard more improbable explanations. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “A Florida man has contended that his girlfriend’s jealousy-fueled attack — and not his intoxication — forced his car into a central Minnesota lake where the woman was found dead. … Hamil said he and Homewood, while staying at a cabin for the week, were at a bar where a woman hugged him. He described his girlfriend as a jealous person, prompting her to hit him six or seven times as he drove.”

The rules have a hard time staying ahead of technology. Says the AP:  “Rules for drones, license plate readers on police cruisers and abuse of government data may be on the agenda for a new commission studying Minnesota’s privacy and data practices laws. The Legislative Commission on Data Practices met near the state Capitol for the first time Tuesday to brainstorm issues to tackle.”

The judge screwed up. Richard Chin of the PiPress reports, “A Ramsey County judge erred when he said he would — over the prosecutor’s objection — dismiss prostitution charges against a man after a period of probation, according to a ruling Monday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. … the appellate court ruled that the sentencing arrangement ordered by [Judge  Gregg] Johnson was similar to a ‘stay of adjudication,’ which can’t be ordered by a judge over the objection of the prosecutor unless ‘there is a clear abuse of prosecutorial discretion in charging.’ “

In case you’re counting … The AP says, “More than three dozen trains carrying volatile crude oil move through Wisconsin each week from the Northern Plains, disclosures from railroads show. State officials released the information in response to a public records request from The Associated Press. The disclosures show BNSF Railway is the primary hauler of oil, moving between 26 and 44 trains per week along an eight county route that parallels the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. … Each train can carry about 3 million gallons of oil.”

These compensate somewhat for the mosquitoes and black flies: The AP says,Raspberries and blueberries are peaking in southern and central Minnesota as the strawberry season gets going in the northern region of the state. The cold, wet spring delayed the growing season, but the Minnesota Grown program says consumers can expect a variety of berries ready to be picked and enjoyed throughout the state this month.”

On the pot watch … Robbie Feinberg at City Pages says, “Lawmakers in other states are now turning to Minnesota’s new cannabis law as a model for their own legislation, despite the law’s restrictions on eligibility and usage. Over the past few weeks, legislators in both Pennsylvania and Georgia have turned to the Minnesota law, which passed in May, as a starting point for bills in their own states.” If Washington state’s revenue and crime stats match Colorado’s post-legalization, this perspective will get dumped on its head pretty fast.

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