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Minneapolis Park Board dumps ‘The Yard’

PLUS: Restaurant owners say minimum wage hike plus health care changes equal a ‘perfect storm’; Grover Norquist’s group whines about GOP gov candidate Jeff Johnson; and St. Paul lets taprooms sell beer on Sundays.

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The Minneapolis Park Board has dumped “The Yard.” Nick Woltman of the PiPress says, “The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board voted on Wednesday to wash its hands of a park — known informally as The Yard — planned as part of the massive Downtown East development. The board voted 6-2 to adopt a resolution removing itself from The Yard’s development, maintenance and operation, saying the space ‘does not truly qualify as a public park.’”

Still roiling: the waters around the Stillwater cafe that has added a “minimum wage fee” to patrons’ tabs. Now, Kelly Smith of the Strib says, “[Craig] Beemer, who lives in Wisconsin and has owned Oasis Cafe the past five years, wasn’t available for comment Wednesday. But Orcutt said Beemer wrote a letter to the Legislature opposing the new law. Most customers outside the cafe Wednesday supported his decision. ‘I think he did the right thing,’ said customer Mike Stephan of Taylors Falls, who also owns a small business in Stillwater. ‘If nothing else, it’s making a bold statement.’”

Related: Strib columnist Jon Tevlin notes the Blue Plate chain of local restaurants is, um, adjusting its policies as well. “Owners David Burley and Stephanie Shimp went on to say that the mandatory wage increase, plus rising expenses due to the health care law, will cost the company $1.25 million. While Blue Plate will absorb most of that cost, the company also slightly increased prices last week, and now intends to pass along the fees to ­servers when a credit card is used to pay the tip. Since most customers pay with credit cards, the hit to servers is estimated to be 2 percent of their tips, on top of the taxes they already pay.”

MPR’s Tom Scheck reports that GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson is taking heat from Grover Norquist’s shop. “The anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform is criticizing Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson for not signing the group’s pledge to not raise taxes if he’s elected governor. The group, which is run by Grover Norquist, said Johnson’s refusal to sign the pledge is a ‘Read my lips’ problem on taxes.’”

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Kind of a whimper of an ending. Brandt Williams at MPR says, “A former sheriff’s deputy who claimed that the work environment in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office had been hostile to black women for decades has reached a settlement with the county over a federal sex and race discrimination complaint. Under the agreement, [June] Johnson dismissed the complaint she filed last year, and the county admits no liability. In the four-page settlement agreement required reached quietly in April, the county paid Johnson $21,000 to compensate her for emotional damages. In return, Johnson agreed to retire.”

A series of grants has lopped $3.48 million off the cost of St.Paul’s Lowertown Stadium. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes, “A $6 million loan that the St. Paul City Council approved last year to cover environmental issues in the construction of the Lowertown ballpark has been whittled down to $1.2 million. On Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council accepted $3.48 million in outside grants, about half of which will be used to help offset the city loan.”

In Slippery Slope news: Frederick Melo (again), writes, “Taprooms will soon be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays in St. Paul. An ordinance adopted by the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday allows taprooms to sell alcohol made on the premises seven days a week. The new rules, which go into effect in 30 days, apply from 10 a.m. Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday.”

In its latest endorsement, the Strib likes Eden Prairie GOP House incumbent Jenifer Loon over challenger Sheila Kihne. This is the race that’s notable for Kihne’s attacks on Loon for voting for gay marriage. “Loon is a conscientious, thoughtful legislator who’s entrusted to speak for her party. It’s that esteem, and not the unwillingness of the District 48B Republican Party to endorse her for a fourth term, that should matter with voters in the Republican primary next Tuesday. Loon deserves their support over challenger Sheila Kihne. Kihne, 40, is a stay-at-home mother, author of a book about dating, and Republican activist. She declined to meet with a Star Tribune Editorial Board screening panel before the primary. We intended to ask whether her critique of Loon’s performance goes beyond Loon’s May 2013 vote to legalize same-sex marriage. We see little on Kihne’s website to suggest that it does.”

And if you’re wondering how much endorsements really matter, Robbie Feinberg of City Pages asked around. “But in bigger elections, [U of M prof Kathryn Pearson] says, where a lot is already known about both candidates, endorsements wont mean too much. A 2004 report from the American Journalism Review interviewed a number of newspaper editors and looked at a few case studies, and nearly all came back with the same result: ‘The impact of endorsements on national or even regional elections — contests in which candidates are well-known among voters — is negligible.’” So McFadden probably shouldn’t be sweating over getting denied by the Strib.”