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Restaurant group reverses course on minimum wage charges

PLUS: The union vote for personal care assistants can go forward; Minnesota kids crush the ACT; and Hidden Beach needs to be more hidden, or not at all.

An adult moment: Tim Nelson at MPR writes, “A Twin Cities restaurant group that drew fire for reducing its employees’ tips to make up for a hike in the minimum wage is reversing course. The Blue Plate Restaurant Company runs eight full service restaurants in the Twin Cities. … Owner David Burley says Blue Plate has dropped the controversial charge, and will also raise the pay for non-tipped staff to $9.69 an hour starting September 1. That’s a premium above the state’s current 8 dollar an hour minimum wage, which went into effect Aug. 1.”

Still absorbing: The Strib’s Kavita Kumar writes about Target in the wake of last winter’s data breach. “Target Corp.’s second-quarter results met lowered expectations as U.S. sales were flat and it absorbed more costs related to last year’s data breach. The company’s adjusted earnings, which excludes one-time costs and gains, fell about 20 percent while sales grew 2 percent in the three months ending Aug. 2. Executives said there were signs of improvement in July and the start of this month, which will show up in the next quarter’s results. Even so, they lowered the profit outlook for the remaining six months of the fiscal year.”

A union vote for state-subsidized personal care assistants can go forward. Tim Pugmire, also at MPR, says, “[U.S. District Judge Michael] Davis issued an order today denying the motion from union opponents for a preliminary injunction. Those opponents are suing state officials, claiming that the election now underway among 27,000 in-home health care workers is unconstitutional. They argue it violates their right of free political expression and association. Davis said the election must proceed.”

Still mostly above average. The Strib’s Anthony Lonetree reports on our kids’ ACT scores. “For a ninth consecutive year, the state’s seniors posted the highest average composite score among students in states in which at least half of the graduates took the test. That average mark — 22.9 out of a possible 36 — was down slightly from the 23.0 posted in 2013. But this year’s graduates also finished atop another national measure: the percentage of students deemed college-ready in each of the four subject areas tested.”

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What happens when they have too much time on their hands. Tom Olson of the Forum News Service reports, “Two Minnesota men face federal charges alleging that they and other inmates received more than $400,000 in fraudulent tax returns while serving in a state prison. Tanka James Tetzlaff, 39, of Duluth, and Tony Terrell Robinson, 30, of Bayport, each face a count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and 10 counts of false claims against the United States following a grand jury indictment unsealed last week.”

The prosecutors in that Waseca school terror plot has problems with the judge’s decision to drop the most serious charges. In the Mankato Free Press Dan Linehan writes, “In their appeal of a judge’s July decision to drop the most serious charges against 17-year-old John LaDue, Waseca County prosecutors said they will raise the issue of whether the judge erred and whether his decision has a critical impact on the prosecution. In their filing, prosecutors said the attempted murder charges, which were dropped along with attempted damage to property charges, were the only ones that would have resulted in a presumptive prison sentence. And the dismissal could change whether or not LaDue, who police said was a would-be school shooter, is certified as an adult in criminal court.”

Strib columnist Jon Tevlin wades into Cedar Lake’s Hidden Beach controversy. “One man in his 50s sitting at Hidden Beach dismissed the concern as ‘people not remembering what it was like to be young. They should visit Chicago.’ My gut instinct would be to agree with the man, until I went to the meeting and heard neighbors’ stories. Lisa Goodman, the Minneapolis City Council member for the area, said problems are different this summer. ‘Every year I’ve been on the City Council there have been problems,’ said Goodman. ‘This year it’s definitely three times worse than it’s ever been. I think it’s turned violent.’”

One option might being getting rid of the “Hidden” part. Says Aaron Rupar at City Pages: “As for what options might be on the table for the Park Board, [park commissioner Anita] Tabb says, ‘I think everything. It seems to me there are two options,’ she says. ‘You either fully close it and let the underbrush totally grow, and make it so unpleasant to be there that people aren’t going to be there. Who wants to lay on brushwood?’ With regard to the other option, Tabb says, ‘We could open it up, and I mean really open it up.’ … ‘We either need to close it or open it up and take out all the underbrush, [which] might mean taking out trees, putting in parking, adding amenities that would draw people who have eyes on the park.’

Also, a poignant tale of growing up in Ferguson, Missouri from ex-Stribber Mike Meyers. “One perceived peril many Ferguson whites dreaded was racial integration. People who had little feared people who had even less. … Mom and Dad never would have burned a cross in anyone’s yard or shouted hateful slurs. But, as whites without high school diplomas, they looked on blacks as potential economic rivals and as an imminent menace.”