Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Big divide among Minnesotans on proposed gas tax increase

Plus: one man’s journey from Minneapolis to the Islamic State; say goodbye to a Minnetonka Boulevard bridge; the Gophers win an NCAA title; and more.

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

Not entirely a surprise: For the Star Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican writesSuburban and outstate Minnesotans whose roads and bridges would benefit the most from Gov. Mark Dayton’s transportation plan are solidly against the gas tax increase he would use to pay for it. A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll taken March 16-18 shows 52 percent of adults oppose the plan while 45 percent support it, but the opposition is fiercest in the suburbs outside Hennepin and Ramsey counties and in outstate Minnesota, where about 3 out of 5 residents are against the plan. Respondents in Hennepin and Ramsey counties favored the gas tax, 59 to 37 percent.

Today in Second Amendment fever: Says Don Davis for the Forum News Service: “The Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee underwent a lengthy and spirited debate about a topic with even more firepower than money: whether North Dakota residents’ gun permits should be honored in Minnesota. After a meeting split between morning and night Thursday, the committee cast a divided vote to allow Class I North Dakota permits to be legal. The next stop is the full House. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, is author of a similar Senate bill. The argument came because gun rights groups do not agree with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s decision that the North Dakota gun permit law is not close enough to Minnesota law to allow reciprocity.”

The lamentable tale of Abdi Nur, a young  Minneapolis man now off fighting for ISIS, was laid out in a Saturday New York Times article by Scott Shane. “Reading back over Abdi Nur’s Twitter feed, his chilling progression from the basketball courts of South Minneapolis to the battlefields of Syria is clear. … On May 28, agents intercepted Mr. [Abdullahi] Yusuf at the Minneapolis airport and kept him from boarding. They found that the blue Volkswagen Jetta that had dropped him off belonged to the boyfriend of Mr. Nur’s sister. But when they searched for Mr. Nur late on May 29, they learned he had left the country hours earlier. Word that he was missing was a blow for the city’s large Somali community. ‘It went out like wildfire that he had left and nobody knew where he had gone,’ said Abdirizak Warsame, a friend and, like Mr. Nur, a 2013 high school graduate. They had played basketball together just a few days earlier. ‘I had no clue,’ he said.”

Brad Berreman at Rant Sports gets in on the latest Adrian Peterson chatter. “In the latest developments surrounding running back Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports has reported that Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, refused a dinner meeting with general manager Rick Spielman at the upcoming owner’s meetings in Phoenix.’s Ben Goessling added to the news by further confirming what we essentially already knew, citing a league source that says Peterson’s preference is to play elsewhere next season. Peterson has consistently conveyed doubts and feelings of unease about the Vikings’ organization, which is not shocking since he apparently feels like he hasn’t been supported through his ordeal with the league office over the past six months or so. I’ll leave my full feelings about Peterson’s thin skin and being a ‘mental midget’ aside, but I’ve already devoted plenty of space to that over the past few months.”

Article continues after advertisement

A situation that clearly needs a viable alternative. Stribber Abby Simons reports, “A proposed network of facilities intended to reduce the number of mentally ill people who languish in county jails is facing resistance from mental health advocates, who say Minnesota should focus instead on a statewide expansion of proven intervention programs. Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, wants Minnesota to spend $5.5 million to establish three 16-bed ‘jail diversion hubs’ throughout Minnesota. Her measure has the backing of law enforcement agencies, which have complained that a shortage of psychiatric beds often forces them to lock up the mentally ill, where they are less likely to get the care they need.”

A Minneapolis hip-hop mainstay got some respect at South by Southwest. Says Chris Riemenschneider in the Strib, “South by Southwest (SXSW) gave Minneapolis’ Little Rap Label That Could the reverential treatment. SXSW organizers handed over an entire Friday night at one of Austin’s top nightclubs, Mohawk, for its showcase, also featuring Brother Ali, Prof and Dem Atlas. The conference also hosted an industry panel Thursday at the Austin Convention Center titled ‘Rhymesayers: Independent Since Day One’ — an honor that reiterates the company’s pioneering role in underground rap music.”

Are we in golden eagle territory?  In the St. Cloud Times, Ann Wessel writes, “The confirmation, capture and tagging of a golden eagle observed and netted at Camp Ripley earlier this month broadens researchers’ idea about what might constitute the range of a raptor previously thought of as a West Coast species. Part of the reason they’ve gone undetected: Mature golden eagles look a lot like juvenile bald eagles, unless you know to look for — the gold at the nape of the neck, feathers all the way to the toes, the white band on the underside of juveniles’ wings.” 

Good riddance. A Strib story says, “[Today], the Minnesota Department of Transportation will start tearing down the Minnetonka Boulevard bridge over Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park and taking with it an important piece of Twin Cities transportation history. Most people won’t be sad to see Bridge No. 5598 and one just like it over Hwy. 7 meet the wrecking ball. The crumbling 80-year-old bridges are being replaced this summer and next as part of a $60 million project to widen Hwy. 100 between 36th Street and I-394 and remove one of the west metro area’s worst traffic pinch points.” 

And if you’re just going give up on the car during all the construction, Ben Johnson at City Pages says, “Minneapolis’s evolution into a two-wheeled utopia is nearly complete. The city is spending $790,000 to add seven-foot-wide bike lanes protected by a 3-7-foot buffer area and hard plastic cones to five busy streets this summer. … North/Northeast: Plymouth Avenue from Fremont to the bridge, where it joins up with the existing protected bike lane, then continuing into Northeast until 5th Street. Downtown: 9th Street from Chicago to Hennepin South: 26th and 28th Street from Portland to Hiawatha U of M: Oak Street from East River Road to Washington.” 

What improving property values in Ramsey County could likely mean: Frederick Melo of the PiPress says, “It’s still too soon to tell exactly what that will mean for property taxes in 2016, but level growth is a good sign for homeowners hoping to avoid surprise tax increases a year from now. Overall, homes, businesses and apartment buildings are gaining value in Ramsey County, said county assessor Stephen Baker. ‘The market is still doing well,’ he said. ‘We see more even increases across all value types. That should translate into fewer residential properties that see dramatic increases for taxes payable in 2016.’ The 156,000 market valuations mailed out this week by the county assessor’s office tell a story less turbulent than in past years. The overall increase across properties is 3.7 percent, or about half what they were a year ago.” 

Also from Mr. Melo, “Como Regional Park in St. Paul is in store for millions of dollars in improvements over the next year or so to streets and parking lots, as well as a historically sensitive new railing along the once-abandoned Historic Streetcar Bridge.The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to spend $5.4 million that had been awarded in state bond funds last legislative session for improvements to Estabrook Drive, the West Picnic Grounds parking lot and the Palm Lot south of the carousel, as well as around access points to the McMurray softball fields.” 

Did you catch this? From WCCO-TV, “U.S. Internet announced plans on Friday to radically increase speeds of its municipal wireless internet network. The Minnetonka-based company has spent two years developing a new method of transmitting wireless internet. The method involves a device, called a time-division multiplexing, or TDM, node, which is attached to the side of a user’s home and can send an internet signal at broadband speeds, through the walls, to the user’s router.” 

Like death and taxes … The University of Minnesota women’s hockey program won another NCAA title Sunday, writes the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen: The Gophers defeated Harvard 4-1 on Sunday to win their third NCAA women’s hockey title in four years, celebrating the triumph before an announced sellout crowd of 3,400 at Ridder Arena. Players donned the celebratory T-shirts and hats, just as they had in 2012 and 2013, and then hoisted the trophy to raucous cheers. … This was the Gophers’ sixth national title and fifth since the NCAA began crowning a champion in 2001.