Man, has this thing taken a beating. In the Strib, columnist Jon Tevlin goes after the new version of the Holidazzle: “The Holidazzle Facebook Page is teeming with anger and disappointment. Customers complain of ‘paying to shop,’ of long lines, congested aisles that are not handicap- or stroller-friendly, confusing exits, ‘a rickety, questionably safe carousel’ and a ‘cash only’ policy combined with broken cash machines. … The response to the village was so hostile, event organizers even apologized late this week on Facebook: ‘We hope you’ll try us again, as we’re working hard to create a valuable event for everyone who attends,’ they wrote.” Maybe they should steal a clue from Munich and add a lot more beer?
9,000 “inadvertent errors.” In City Pages Cory Zurowski writes, “The Essar Group will launch its $1.8 billion taconite plant in Nashwauk sometime next year — with the state of Minnesota kicking in $66 million in loans and infrastructure bonds. But riding along with the Iron Range’s largest project in 40 years will be Essar’s record of providing fraudulent environmental records to regulatory officials. Essar also owns Frasure Creek Mining, one of Kentucky’s biggest coal operators. Back in 2010, a coalition of environmental groups decided to analyze water testing reports the company submitted to state officials. And what they found appeared to be wholesale fraud. Over a two-year period, Essar submitted 9,000 measurements that were simply copied-and-pasted from previous reports, showing that pollution runoff into waterways was well within permissible limits. The company offered a novel excuse, claiming it simply made 9,000 inadvertent transcription errors.” A couple honest clerical errors! Sheesh.
MPR’s Jon Collins looks at few state police departments looking at ways to improve their performance. “[Roseville Police Chief Rick] Mathwig said he was an early supporter of police officer wearing body cameras and that his department was adjusting its use of force policy even before Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson. ‘What we’re doing now is when officers use force, if there’s available media — such as a squad video, or we have a few body cameras that we’re testing out now — if that’s available, then the supervisor will look at all available media and make sure that the uses of force were legal and justified before signing off on the report,’ Mathwig said.”
Quite the haul. Kay Fate at the Rochester Post-Bulletin says, “Local authorities are expected to ask for help from the FBI after a robbery early this morning that netted at least a half-million dollars in diamonds and precious metals. … a vehicle carrying seven people on the way home from a jewelry and diamond trade show in Chicago had pulled into the rest stop to use the facilities. Two people stayed with the vehicle. A van pulled up behind their vehicle, said Capt. Scott Behrns, and at least four people — believed to be males — got out of the van, smashed several windows on the victims’ vehicle and grabbed three or four traveling suitcases filled with gold and silver jewelry and loose diamonds. The loss is estimated at ‘a minimum of $500,000,’ he said.”
A pretty serious lapse of due diligence. The AP’s Brian Bakst reports, “Custodians of the state treasury forked out $61 million this year — and owe about $40 million over the next few years — to repay a loan half that size from the state’s Closed Landfill Investment Fund. The fund is administered by pollution regulators to pay for programs that ensure proper environmental attention is given to more than 100 closed landfills. The $48 million loan was ordered by lawmakers in 2010, to help dig out from a steep budget deficit. As part of an agreement put into law then, the loan was to be repaid with interest that matched any investment earnings the fund missed out on as a result.” The ripples off those deficit years just keep coming.
Lacking any modern country music cred, I’ll take Stribber Jon Bream’s word for it that this is a big deal. “Country queen Carrie Underwood is the first act announced to play the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. She will headline the Grandstand on Aug. 29. … The six-time Grammy winner has released four studio albums, which have sold more than 64 million copies combined, and she will offer ‘Greatest Hits: Decade #1’ on Tuesday.”
The jury didn’t take long. Chao Xiong of the Strib says, “Jurors acquitted the Rev. Mark A. Huberty on Monday of two counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly starting a sexual relationship with a married parishioner he had been counseling. They returned the verdict after deliberating for about 1 1/2 hours Friday and an hour Monday, clearing Huberty on one count each of fourth and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. … Huberty’s defense attorney, Paul Engh, said that the woman pursued Huberty and initiated the physical contact. He said that once Huberty asked her in January 2013 to be his ‘friend,’ the dynamic in their relationship changed and he could no longer be guilty of an inappropriate relationship.”
The Penumbra is in better financial health. MPR’s Euan Kerr says, “St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre announced Monday that it balanced its books during the past fiscal year. It’s the first full year since the company adopted a new business plan after nearly collapsing in 2012. An audit shows a $500,000 increase in donations and grants, and an increase in assets of slightly more than that.”
This won’t hurt his chances with the ladies. For the Forum News Service Emily Welker writes, “Thanks to the dating app Lulu and the publication Business Insider, nice guys are finishing first — among them, Richfield native Lucas Blanchard. Blanchard was named as one of ‘Lulu’s Most Popular Man in Every State’, based on scores collected by Business Insider and ratings the men received via the Lulu app, which pulls in their Facebook profiles. Women then anonymously evaluated the men, scoring them on whether they could carry on a conversation with the women’s fathers, whether they brought the women flowers or opened doors for them, how attractive they were and other things.”