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Minneapolis Urban League under investigation for possible double billing

Plus: Norm Coleman’s group rewards centrist Republicans; rural Minnesota population decline; the Twin Cities Reader covers of 1995; mapping “greenup”; and more.

You’ve got to read those state budgets carefully. The Star Tribune’s Alejandra Matos reports on an investigation by state education officials into funds awarded to the Minneapolis Urban League by Minneapolis Public Schools “… for a program that never lived up to its promise of graduating the city’s most troubled high school students.” Performance issues aside, there was another big problem: “… Minnesota legislators agreed to give the Urban League $300,000 a year for nearly identical work, paying some of the same staff to work with many of the same students the school district already was paying to help.” How did that happen? “At some point in the closing hours of the legislative session, $600,000 was added into the budget for the Urban League. But the measure stripped all accountability measures and left [Education Commissioner Brenda] Cassellius without any authority over the 13th Grade.” 

Remember Norm Coleman? Politico has a bit about what he and the American Action Network have been up to lately. Namely, agitating for a more centrist Republican Party: “The deep-pocketed American Action Network, which has raised over $104 million since 2011, will put $1.8 million toward ads in 76 districts touting members who stood up to right-wing pressure and supported the House leadership on the budget and bipartisan Medicare legislation.”

The rural Minnesota population slide continues. The Mankato Free Press’ Tim Krohn reports on the latest census numbers for Mankato-area counties: “Only Blue Earth and Nicollet counties saw decent growth in the past five years, with Le Sueur County holding basically steady and all other counties losing population. … The more rural area counties continue to slowly lose population, a trend that shows little sign of letting up as the population ages and birth rates decline.”

A dose of nostalgia for followers of the Twin Cities media scene: on his blog, former Twin Cities Reader art director David Steinlicht reproduces — with commentary — that venerable publication’s covers from January through August 1995.

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Gardeners: are you itching to get your hands back in the dirt? You might want to check out CityLab’s reprint of a USDA map that shows “… in glorious Technicolor the beginning of seasonal greening, or ‘greenup,’ across America’s forests, fields, and urban areas.” The metro area and south east Minnesota lead the state, with greenup in mid-April.

In other news …

Friendly reminder from the State Patrol: 

The United States’ failure to take action against NE Minneapolis’ Michael Karkoc has resulted in the nation’s downgrade from an “A” to “B” for Nazi hunting. [New York Times] 

Bill Lindeke’s MinnPost column lauding TV-free bars in the Twin Cities led to a question about where Rochesterers can seek out such experiences. The Answer Man has a list. [Rochester Post Bulletin]

The Glean

Just horrifying: 90-year-old man found dead, bound and beaten in Carver County [KARE]

Owatonna cancels Festival of the Arts due to lack of interest. [MPR’s NewsCut]

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“50-story 33 South Sixth and City Center to be sold in $280M deal” [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal] 

Warning: marijuana puns ahead. “Wisconsin Democrat aims to legalize marijuana in the state [AP via Star Tribune]

The zoo’s summer lineup: Salt-N-Pepa, Michael McDonald, Pat Benatar [WCCO]