At MPR, Curtis Gilbert takes another look at why not a single car was towed in (kinda upscale) southwest Minneapolis during the last snow emergency. “The city pays Rapid Recovery Inc. just $59 per vehicle to tow from that area. The towing companies that handle the other three corners of the city get paid more than twice as much for each car they bring in to the impound lot. … Minneapolis encourages towing contractors to focus their efforts on areas closer to the centrally-located impound lot on Colfax Avenue North …, ‘The tow contractors go where we tell them to go,’ Deputy Public Works Director Heidi Hamilton said. ‘It’s not the tow truck drivers deciding to go where they’re going to make more money.’ But looking at the map of cars towed during the city’s first snow emergency, you have to wonder.” If what she says is true, this could be the first case on record where money was not a factor.
If you’re a Millennial: Minneapolis is No. 6! St. Paul is No. 8! Says Frederick Melo in the PiPress, “A new index showcasing the best places to live for residents under age 35 ranks Minneapolis No. 6 — with St. Paul close behind at No. 8 — out of the nation’s 100 most populous cities. To come up with its Livability Index, the news and culture website Vocativ studied traditional and nontraditional indicators of youth happiness, from housing and salary data to the average price of a dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. Vocativ even threw in some off-color topics — such as the typical cost of an ounce of high-grade marijuana.”
A group of pros is not pleased with the performance of state agencies handling child protection for minority children. At MPR, Sasha Aslanian writes, “Children of color are much more likely to be reported to Minnesota’s child protection system than white children, a long-standing issue the state is working to address. But a group of African-American professionals is concerned that the pendulum has swung too far. Phyllis Sloan, executive director of La Creche Early Childhood Centers, Inc. in Minneapolis, worries that calls to child protection are no longer met with a vigorous response.”
Why do I feel there’s something oxymoronic about a “smart beer vending machine”? Aaron Rupar at KMSP-TV writes, “Months after the Twins became the first team in Major League Baseball to unveil self-serve beer stations at their ballpark, the Wild were set to introduce a similarly unique gadget at tonight’s game — a “smart” beer vending machine from Anheuser-Busch. The machine, located on the main concourse near section 113, dispenses 25 ounce cans of Budweiser. A Levy Restaurants rep will standby to card people and provide general assistance. A release from the team notes that it is ‘the first Budweiser Smart Vending Machine in any entertainment venue in the world’.”
Speaking of beverages: Chris Vetter of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram writes, “A brewery and distillery could begin brewing beer in downtown Chippewa Falls. James Stirn of Savage, Minn., has submitted a request to the city to open a brewery in a building on River Street at a cost of about $1 million. … The plan calls for the building to be in operation 24 hours a day, with a “20 barrel” system that can produce 600 gallons. The project also calls for a tasting room that will offer souvenirs, tours and the sale of on-site and off-site alcohol.” Is there such a thing as a “booze bubble”?
Brett Neely of MPR says, “With a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations underway, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and a broad coalition of agricultural producers wants Congress to lift the five decades-old trade embargo on the Caribbean nation. At an event organized by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition on Cuba in Washington, Klobuchar said that lifting the embargo would give a boost to Minnesota’s export sector. … Republican leaders in Congress have opposed Obama’s policy moves and so far there’s no sign Congress will vote to end the embargo.” Cargill is on board, so how long do you think this will take?
Also at KMSP, from Leah Beno: “Shortly after rebounding from the massive data breach, according to a Fox 9 source, Target hired about 40 people in August and September. People in that group spent the fall giving notice to current employers, leaving jobs, moving from out of state and buying homes in the Twin Cities, only to get a phone call two weeks prior to reporting for work that their job offers were rescinded. … In a statement, Target confirmed communicating to the small group, saying, in part, ‘in light of the changing needs of our business, we have elected not to move forward with bringing them on board at this time. We apologized to each of them and communicated the decision as soon as it was made to help allow the individuals to adjust their plans.’”
The big town is getting tough. Erin Golden at the Strib says, “Avoid shoveling your sidewalk after the next big snowfall and you’ll risk getting stuck with the bill from city crews making faster sweeps through Minneapolis neighborhoods. … this year, officials say they’re going to respond more quickly to people who ignore … letters. City crews will be sent out to clear the snow, and they’ll be there twice as fast as they were in the past. Property owners will be billed for the city’s cleanup work. And there’s no escape; unpaid fines will be tacked on to property tax bills.”
Has the NFL commissioner’s office approved this? Says Kristen Leigh Painter in the Strib, “Minneapolis city staff are recommending the City Council approve a $1.8-million contract with Hargreaves Associates to design the Downtown East park adjacent to the new Vikings stadium. The San Francisco-based landscape architect was selected from three finalists competing for the 4.2-acre park, now called The Downtown East Commons. City Council is expected to approve the contract on Jan. 14. … Hargreaves’ roughly $2 million contract won’t cover the costs to fully develop the parcel. The park is estimated to cost between $6.3 and $10.5 million. Ryan Companies, the developer responsible for the entire five-block Downtown East project, is heading a fundraising effort to fill the gap.” May I suggest, “Park Bench License Fees”?
Fewer and fewer “underwater.” Says Stribber Jim Buchta: “Rising house prices have been a boon to all homeowners, not just those wanting to sell. Just 7.3 percent of Twin Citians with a mortgage owed more than their house was worth during the third quarter last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That’s down from nearly 10 percent a year ago and less than half the rate two years ago.”