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Minnesota Orchestra pulls in $13.2 million in donations

PLUS: The state of Minnesota faces a highway-funding dilemma; DQ gets hacked; a former Bachmann campaign aide pleads guilty; and more.

MinnPost file photo by John Whiting

That’ll help. Graydon Royce of the Strib reports, “The Minnesota Orchestra, emerging from a financial crisis and a historic labor lockout, had good news on Wednesday when the board said it has received $13.2 million in four separate donations. All given anonymously, the donations include a single $10 million ‘leadership gift.’ Three other donors contributed the additional $3.2 million.”

Speaking of music, at a slightly lower price point: Ross Raihala of the PiPress reminds readers that the Turf Club is back in business as of tonight. “Nearly everything else inside the club has undergone some change in an attempt to bring the venue dating to the 1940s into the 21st century. The new owners closed the Turf for the summer to allow for the construction. … Another change sure to please longtime customers is the overhauled and expanded bathrooms, which are now handicap accessible. They also raised the ceiling by two feet, added a new staircase, updated the sound system, replaced furniture and made other cosmetic changes.” Can you still be “rock ‘n roll” without the smell of stale beer?

Good piece from MPR’s Tom Scheck on the state’s highway maintenance dilemma: “The Minnesota Department of Transportation projects a $12 billion shortfall over the next 20 years — just to maintain the current road and bridge system. To make matters worse, state transportation officials project that gas tax revenue, the largest funding stream for road and bridge projects, will decline as people drive less and cars become more fuel efficient. … Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the Republican nominee for governor, said Minnesota does not need a gas tax increase. Instead, he said the state’s transportation problem could be solved by reprioritizing spending.” Some specific suggestions are certain to follow, right? 

Petit parks? Frederick Melo of the PiPress tells us, “While St. Paul and Minneapolis are each 15 percent parkland, the area immediately surrounding the Green Line is 4.7 percent parkland, a number that could decline as new real estate construction rolls in. In a new 34-page report titled ‘Green the Green Line,’ the Trust for Public Land outlines how the lack of green space could be offset by several strategies, including asking private developers to create and maintain publicly accessible spaces.”

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Another new law. This time related to breast tissue density. The Strib’s Jeremy Olson says, “The standard ‘all-clear’ letter sent after mammograms to tell women they are cancer-free is going to contain new and potentially troubling information for thousands of Minnesota women — the disclosure that they have dense tissue in their breasts that could cloud their cancer screenings. Minnesota lawmakers mandated as of Aug. 1 that doctors notify women if their mammograms discover dense breast tissue, which can mask the presence of a tumor on an X-ray.”

Now every God-knows-who might find out about your Peanutbuster Parfait habit. Says Mike Hughlett in the Strib: “Dairy Queen has become the latest victim of computer hackers bent on pilfering customers’ credit and debit card information. The Edina-based ice cream and fast-food chain confirmed Wednesday that ‘customer data at a limited number of stores may be at risk.’ The company didn’t disclose how many customers or how many stores were affected.”

We are always distressed to hear of malfeasance in proximity to Our Favorite Congresswoman. Corey Mitchell of the Strib writes, “A former top official for Michele Bachmann’s failed presidential campaign pleaded guilty on Wednesday to concealing payments he received from the presidential campaign of former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to switch his support and ditch Bachmann. Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s one-time campaign adviser in Iowa, entered the guilty plea.”

At NPR, Pete Overby says, “There’s always a certain amount of weirdness in the Iowa presidential caucuses, and in the 2012 cycle the peak weirdness might have come just before New Year’s. Republican state Sen. Kent Sorenson, the Iowa chairman for Bachmann’s campaign, jumped to the Paul campaign six days before the voting — immediately setting off rumors that he had taken a payoff for switching sides. Now Sorenson has pleaded guilty in federal court. Yes, he says, he switched sides. He got $73,000 from the Paul campaign to do so — mostly at $8,000 per month. Yes, the money was laundered through two companies to hide it from public disclosure; that’s the first of two counts Sorenson pleaded to. And yes, he lied to an investigator from the Iowa state ethics commission; that’s the other count.” Other than that, he just believed so much in what he was doing.

And in the realm  of Our Favorite Governor:  Slate has a good piece, by John Dickerson, on The [Scott] Walker Hypothesis. “As I wrote earlier this month, the Wisconsin governor’s race touches a lot of national themes. On the Democratic side, it is a test of the strength of union forces that have branded Walker enemy No. 1 and a test of how effectively a candidate can be attacked for those who back him. (Walker has been supported by the Koch brothers.) But the biggest national test taking place in Wisconsin is a test of the Walker Hypothesis, which held that a politician who enacted conservative policies and didn’t shrink from the resulting controversy would be rewarded by a wide range of voters—conservatives, but also swing voters. It was a model that conservatives offered not just for other GOP governors, but for the party’s presidential candidates.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson gets a “Misleading” from MPR’s fact-checker, Catharine Richert. “‘Mark Dayton is in trouble,’ reads the headline of a recent Johnson press release. ‘These polls confirm that Mark Dayton is in trouble, and that I am in a great position with the general election campaign just underway.’ A separate post on Johnson’s Facebook page said ‘Mark Dayton is under 50%! We are only single digits away from victory’! Dayton is in better shape than Johnson lets on. … In addition to having an 8-to-9 percentage point lead over Johnson, Dayton is also polling well among key demographic groups and in key geographical areas. For overstating the numbers, Johnson’s claim leans toward misleading.”