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Minnesota officials argue for lower levees along the Red River

Plus: why charitable giving declined in MN; the state’s solar program is a big hit; and more proof that Bob Dylan can, in fact, laugh.

At first glance, it seems counter-intuitive. Tu-Uyen Tran of the Forum News Service reports, “A motion that was approved to lower the ring dike being built in the Oxbow, N.D., area in response to pressure from Minnesota state officials was made Thursday by the only Minnesotans on the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority. Both expressed disappointment with their state officials, who have of late made some big demands on the board, including lowering the dikes to reduce the feared impact on upstream communities and changing the makeup of the board itself.”

Gerald W. Von Korff, Attorney for Richland and Wilkin counties in North Dakota says in a letter to the Wahpeton Daily News, “The Diversion Authority organizing agreement grants voting power based upon benefits received. Our dispute is not about benefits – it’s about the unnecessary shifting of water off of floodplain in the Fargo area onto Richland and Wilkin counties. The framework of the organizing agreement seems to impose a straightjacket on the members who makes changing the project extremely difficult and our client organizations cannot subscribe to that principle.”

MPR’s Jon Collins follows up that report from earlier in the week showing a significant drop off in charitable giving by wealthier Minnesotans. “Minnesota’s charitable organizations and experts on giving say the plunge happened as donors of modest were squeezed by the recession while wealthy donors didn’t keep pace with their income growth. … [according to Trista Harris, president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations], there’s also evidence that wealthy donors give more to arts and universities instead of social services, which often have greatest need when the economy is weak.”

Here’s a (very) likely “tip of the iceberg” story. The AP’s Eric Tucker reports, “A nursing home chain has agreed to pay $38 million to resolve allegations that it billed Medicare and Medicaid for substandard care at dozens of facilities around the country, the Justice Department said. A federal investigation into Extendicare Health Services Inc. accused the company of failing to provide appropriate care and follow safety protocols. Those lapses in some cases resulted in head injuries to residents, falls and fractures and cases of malnutrition, dehydration and infection, the government said. … The federal government accused the company of substandard care, between 2007 and 2013, in 33 of its skilled nursing homes in eight states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington.”

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The GleanThe “Made in Minnesota” solar incentive program appears to be a hit. Frank Jossi of Midwest Energy News says, “Commercial enterprises, homeowners and nonprofits lined up in great numbers to take advantage of a Minnesota program designed to spur the domestic manufacture of solar panels and increase adoption of photovoltaic (PV) solar through aggressive incentives. The program, Made in Minnesota (MiM), attracted more than 500 entities to a lottery-based process that will add 5.22 megawatts to the grid. Minnesota has just two companies benefitting from the program, tenKsolar in Bloomington and Silicon Energy in Mountain Iron, which used $5.1 million to build its manufacturing facility. But the program is about to potentially get a lot more competitive. Two solar PV companies and one solar thermal firm plan to apply to be certified by MiM and begin production in the state.”

On the $500,000 the Vikings are tossing into the stadium pot, Rochelle Olson of the Strib tweets, “Vikings to pay $500k additional for stadium. Adds concession areas, mechanical work, skyway design and revamp press area.”

I love these guys, but haven’t they been on a farewell tour for the last 20 years? Stribber Jon Bream writes, “Like such young upstarts as One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer, the Who, those old geezers, are announcing their tour way in advance. Their 50th anniversary tour, which starts in April, will land at Target Center on Oct. 10, 2015. The trek is dubbed The Who Hits 50 Tour. But, as singer Roger Daltrey put it in a statement, ‘This is the beginning of the long goodbye.’ Guitarist and chief songwriter Pete Townshend promises a set of ‘hits, picks, mixes and misses.’”

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Speaking of geezer rock: Tim Campbell of the Strib says, “Just two weeks after Fleetwood Mac opened its On With the Show Tour at Target Center in Minneapolis, the pop heroes announced the second leg of the tour Thursday — and once again they’re launching it in the Twin Cities. This time the group will take their show to St. Paul, for a concert Jan. 16 at Xcel Energy Center.”

Oh hell, here’s one more. Dan Ozzi at Vice Media’s Noisey music site alerts fans to Bob Dylan laughing his way through a version of “Lo and Behold” recorded long ago with the Band. “Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings is readying the release of Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, a massive six-disc set with over 100 meticulously salvaged tracks from the sessions in chronological order. Below, we get an alternate cut of ‘Lo and Behold!’ in which a then-26-year-old Dylan lets loose. Which is to say, right before two-minute mark, he starts breaking out into fits of uncontrollable laughter. It’s a great reminder that even iconic legends that reside in the uppermost echelon of music history are people too. Get them in a basement in a remote area with nothing but free time, some recording equipment, and maybe some prescription painkillers for those motorcycle injuries, and well, somewhere in between the sparks of genius, hilarity is bound to ensue.” Somehow I doubt Bob will workshop any Henny Youngman material at the Orpheum next month.