See, we build a light rail line to St. Paul, and look what happens. A new internal audit conducted by Metro Transit reveals that Green Line riders skip paying the fare at a higher rate than Blue Line riders. The Pioneer Press’ Frederick Melo has the details: “Based on those results, the new audit estimates a fare evasion rate on the Green Line of between 4.6 and 9 percent. That totals a loss of between $11,000 and $22,000 in potential weekly revenue. … A ridership audit of the Blue Line — which travels between downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America in Bloomington — estimates fare evasion rates between 2.6 and 3.6 percent. The loss in potential revenue was pegged at between $4,700 and $6,500 weekly.”
But lest you think fare evasion is exclusively a problem of “wasteful choo choos,” Alex Cecchini at streets.mn provides helpful context for the audit.
Hennepin County officials have landed on a scheme to literally cover up abandoned houses in north Minneapolis. The Star Tribune’s Eric Roper reports: “Leaders of Hennepin County’s housing team watched as a contractor installed vinyl sheets resembling windows, camouflaging the plywood that has dotted the vacant house since 2012. It is part of a new pilot project examining whether disguising vacant homes reduces vandalism and improves nearby property values.”
Vindication for City Pages. “In a sharply worded order, a Florida judge ruled against the lawyer of an anti-gay Minnesota preacher after the attorney brought a defamation suit against the City Pages newspaper,” report Tad Vezner and Jaime DeLage in the Pioneer Press. “ ‘As has been made clear in this case … when Plaintiff receives unfavorable rulings, he often plunges into a tirade against whomever he feels has wronged him — here, it has taken the form of motions to reconsider, objections, and even a petition for writ of mandamus,’ Conway wrote, later adding multiple quotes from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’ ”
The feds are getting involved in ongoing civil rights complaints by Somali students at St. Cloud high schools. “Representatives from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will meet with St. Cloud school officials and students on April 14 in an effort to further understand what may be happening involving accusations of harassment and discrimination of Somali students,” reports Kevin Allenspach in the St. Cloud Times. Background for the investigation: “On March 18, students at Tech walked out of their classes to protest discrimination. The protest occurred after a student sent a picture via Snapchat of a Somali student in a wheelchair with a caption suggesting that student was a member of the Islamic State, the terror group based in Iraq and Syria.”
Kocherlakota says to take it easy on raising interest rates. REUTERS’ Ann Saphir relates the Minneapolis Fed chief’s reasoning: “ ‘I continue to believe that it would be a mistake to raise the target range for the fed funds rate in 2015,’ [Narayana] Kocherlakota told the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce. Because of still-low employment and excessively low inflation, he said, the Fed should ‘start late and raise (rates) more slowly than we did in 2004 to 2006,’ the last time the Fed boosted rates.”
Yesterday’s listicle rating Minneapolis as the healthiest city in the nation has been supplanted by a report today in Governing magazine by Chris Kardish looking at well-being, and, well, we hope you’re sitting down, because: Minneapolis-St. Paul(-Bloomington) ranks only 17th. We still outrank Denver (25th), Seattle (62nd) and Portland (63rd), though.
In other news…
Luxury apartments PLUS craft brewery? Sign us up [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]
Recognition from Ramsey County for Twin Cities Mobile Market, a “grocery-store-on-a-bus” [Pioneer Press]
Rochester is starting up a civilian police oversight commission. [Rochester Post Bulletin]
If it exists, and it’s on the Internet, someone is going to hack it: “Police: Baby Monitor Hacked In Rochester” [WCCO]
The Twins are above average! At how much it costs a fan to attend a game [Team Marketing Report, PDF]
“Will Wilco and Weezer headline the Basilica Block Party?” Uh, maybe? [Star Tribune]
“South Dakota’s bib overall king dies” [MPR’s NewsCut]
Finally, college and beer, united: “Dakota County Tech College to teach beer brewing” [Forum News Service via Pioneer Press]