From Tony O to Cargill, reactions to the normalization of relations with Cuba

REUTERS/Eric Miller
Tony Oliva

Of course someone had to ask Tony Oliva about the great U.S.- Cuba rapprochement. In the Strib Mila Koumpilova and Phil Miller write, “Some Cuban Americans in Minnesota cheered news of normalizing relations with their homeland. By recent estimates, several thousand Cuba natives call the state home. For Twins great Tony Oliva, the thaw in relations is a long time coming. He’s lived in the United States since 1960, when he came here to play baseball, and for several years the embargo meant he could not return home to visit his parents, his five siblings and the rest of his family.

At MPR, Mark Steil looks even higher up the food chain. “Farm interests in Minnesota would particularly like to see more opportunities to do business in Cuba, which has 11 million people. … U.S. officials have relaxed some trade sanctions against Cuba in recent years, but never enough to allow for anything close to normal economic relations, particularly since many of the restrictions are embedded in U.S. law. One Minnesota company that has been working to change that is Twin Cities-based Cargill, one of the nation’s largest food and commodity companies. At Cargill, the presidential announcement was welcome news, Vice President of Corporate Affairs Devry Boughner-Vorwerk said.”

Stillwater’s headline-making (ex-mayor) is back in the news. In the PiPress, Mary Divine writes, “Federal officials say [Ken] Harycki, 51, the owner of Customized Payroll Solutions in Stillwater, used fraudulent accounting to help conceal tax liabilities for twin brothers who owned and operated healthcare businesses in Minnesota. … The brothers are accused of using funds they received from state and federal health-care programs to finance a lavish lifestyle and buy airline tickets, Royal Caribbean cruises, hotel rooms in Las Vegas and Miami, meals at restaurants and a $2,000 shopping spree at Louis Vuitton. The [brothers] or a family member also made cash withdrawals of at least $48,783.50, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.” Always Vegas. 

Stribbers Paul McEnroe and Kevin Giles say, “The former mayor of Stillwater was charged in federal court Wednesday with fraudulent accounting that helped conceal millions of dollars in tax liabilities for a Twin Cities home-health company with a history of Medicaid fraud and high-roller spending. Ken Harycki, who abruptly resigned from office in November, was criminally charged on an ‘information’ by the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis, a procedure that indicates the defendant is expected to plead guilty.” Dang, that guy has been good copy.

Following the day’s legal proceedings in the case of the mother being charged with child endangerment for giving cannabis oil to her ill son, Jennifer Brooks of the Strib reports, “By July, medical marijuana will be legal in Minnesota. But since that law isn’t in effect yet, the Lac qui Parle County attorney opted to prosecute Brown after an official at Trey’s school tipped off child protective services. Brown is charged, not with possession of the small amount of cannabis in the dropper bottle, but of endangering her child by involving him in a drug transaction. … County Attorney Rick Stulz, who brought the case, did not appear in court and the attorney representing the county said she would respond to the request for dismissal after the New Year.”  Mr. Stulz has kept a very low profile for a public official.

For The New York Times, Pat Borzi reports on a serious culling at UMD. “Shannon Miller, the longtime women’s hockey coach at Minnesota-Duluth, met last week with the university’s chancellor, Lendley C. Black, and its athletic director, Josh Berlo, to discuss her expiring contract. With Duluth facing a $6 million budget deficit, Miller, the highest-paid N.C.A.A. Division I women’s hockey coach at $207,000 a year, was prepared to take a pay cut. … Instead, Miller was told that she, her two assistant coaches and her part-time hockey operations director — all women — would not be retained after the season.”

Cue the trolls. At MPR, Paul Huttner writes, “[University of St. Thomas Professor John Abraham] and I traded data including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest numbers showing the 7th warmest November on record globally, and that 2014 is still on pace to be the warmest year on record. Based on multiple data sets and model forecasts for the rest of December, John is ready to make the call that 2014 will indeed finish as the warmest year on record globally. … I’ve been talking ad nauseam for months now about the irony that in the warmest year on record globally, Minnesota is the coolest place on earth relative to average this year.” And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just what the world needs: another Irish pub. Isn’t there a quota or something? Jess Fleming of the PiPress reports, “The owners of Dixie’s on Grand have been busy elves, putting in an entirely new restaurant in their former party-room space. Emmett’s Public House will be an Irish pub with a full menu and plenty of beer and whiskey. Peter Kenefick, a partner in the group that owns Dixie’s, said the Grand Avenue restaurant is named after his father, Emmett Kenefick, who died about a year ago. The family is Irish and went back to the homeland to do research before planning the 60-seat pub.” Right. Back to Ireland to do “research” on pubs.

City Pages’ Reed Fischer and pals offer up CP’s favorite Minnesota-rooted albums of 2014. Here’s a good one, from Zach McCormick. Hollow Boys, ‘Believe in Nothing’: The live presence of gothgaze trio Hollow Boys is a surly, pulverizing wall of distortion, but they make some truly gorgeous records. ‘Believe in Nothing’ crunches harder than their 2013 LP ‘It’s True,’ but there’s still a frosting of jangling pop gracing their mountain of sludge and hypnotic rhythm.” I can just hear the conversation now: “Hmm, this might be good, what do you think?” “I hear it’s a ‘surly, pulverizing wall of distortion.’” “Really? Well, I’m thinking stocking stuffer for Mom.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 12/18/2014 - 09:56 am.

    Cuban embargo was stupid to last five years let alone 50

    In far less time than 50 years, former enemies Germany and Japan, and communist countries such as China and Vietnam, have joined the modern world while our relationship with Cuba was just an excuse to build a military based every 40 miles of the Gulf of Mexico coast as some sort of federal welfare system for southern states.

    Yes, there is no freedom of the press and elections aren’t free and democratic, but neither are they in Saudi Arabia. This is long overdue – and I don’t even smoke cigars.

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