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Local CEOs paid 305 times more than the average Minnesota worker

Plus: rare Hawaiian monk seals at the Minnesota Zoo; cities move to regulate drones; I-94 to be closed; and more.

MinnPost file photo by Corey Anderson

Because only they can create jobs, that’s why. In the Business Journal, Jim Hammerand reports, “Chief executives at Minnesota’s publicly traded S&P 500 companies were paid 305 times more than the average worker, according to the AFL-CIO’s annual report on executive compensation. Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell was the highest-paid of the group. His $28 million compensation package for 2014 (which included $112,000 worth of personal flights on corporate aircraft) was 779 times the average U.S. worker’s yearly pay of $36,134. The average Minnesota worker makes about $45,600 per year.”  

Still, it seems quite a lot is working here in Minnesota. Says Dee DePass for the Strib, “Minnesota factories expect robust growth in 2015, but face challenges replacing retiring workers, according to the State of Manufacturing report issued Wednesday. Enterprise Minnesota surveyed 400 factory executives and found that 89 percent were ‘confident about the future,’ making the results the best in the report’s seven-year history and five percentage points higher than 2014.”

Soon to knock on your door. WCCO-TV’s John Lauritson reports, “A Minnesota company that says it’s helping troops overseas is coming under scrutiny from the Better Business Bureau. Patriot Packaging Sales goes door-to-door soliciting money to send care packages to service members. It’s a for-profit company that claims to be based at an office building in St. Paul. But when we went there on Wednesday, they weren’t listed in the directory.” It may be a factor of age, but the antennae go up at any company with the words “freedom” or “patriot” in their name.

Were they asked if they wanted to leave Hawaii? In the PiPress, Andy Rathbun writes, “Members of one of the most endangered animal species in the world have a new home at the Minnesota Zoo. Five Hawaiian monk seals, from a worldwide population estimated at just 1,100, have arrived at the zoo’s Discovery Bay. The whiskered marine mammals, each weighing in at about 450 pounds, will go on display to the public Memorial Day weekend, making the Apple Valley zoo the only place outside of Hawaii where the public can see them.”

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New on your list of things to worry about: A shortage of “turkey litter.” Says Steve Karnowski of the AP, “A Minnesota power plant fueled by turkey litter flopped and fell into receivership even before a virulent form of bird flu shook the Midwest’s poultry industry in recent months, yet its new managers say they’re confident they can keep it running for the long haul. Fibrominn LLC was hailed when it opened in 2007 as both an innovative renewable energy source and a way to help the country’s top turkey-producing state dispose of hundreds of thousands of tons of litter annually. But court documents show the Benson plant has long struggled to operate at its 55 megawatt capacity. While it was designed to burn poultry litter for up to 90 percent of its fuel needs, it relies mostly on wood chips because the anticipated litter supply didn’t pan out.”

That Fargo area “ring dike” is on hold. For the Forum News Service Tu-Uyen Tran writes, “The immediate result of a federal judge’s order Wednesday was that construction of the Oxbow-area ring dike will cease immediately,  but there may be other consequences for the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion. For one, U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in Minneapolis narrowed the lawsuit filed by upstream diversion opponents by dismissing several allegations made against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Diversion Authority.”

A 70-incher. Dave Orrick of the PiPress says, “James Yerhart has caught only one sturgeon in his life. But it was the sturgeon of a lifetime. On Friday night, Yerhart, a 34-year-old truck technician from Brownsdale, Minn., found himself in a Hemingway-esque struggle with a prehistoric monster: a lake sturgeon as long as he is tall, and perhaps twice his age and 10 times the weight for which his rod and reel were designed.”

It’s getting to be so Cupertino out there. Says Frank Jossi of Midwest Energy News, “At 3M’s sprawling 1.5 square mile campus east of St. Paul, electric vehicle owners have more places to find a charge than any other location in the state. The technology giant has 44 charging spots sprinkled throughout the campus’ 11,000 or so parking spaces, including two fast chargers available in visitor parking. Employees pay $30 a month for the privilege.”

Then there’s drone regulation news. Says Martin Moylan for MPR: “State and local governments are taking steps to regulate drone use, mainly to prohibit snooping by individuals or law enforcement. One Minnesota town, St. Bonafacius, has banned drones altogether within city air space. Right now though, a growing number of recreational users are piloting small drones, which generally weigh less than five pounds and are about the size of a small microwave.”

You’ve been warned. Says MPR, “Weekend motorists will have to find a way around a major interstate closing in St. Paul. The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it plans to shut down both directions of Interstate 94 between Minnesota Highway 280 and Interstate 35E beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday. At 9 p.m. Friday, all ramps that feed I-94 also will close between I-35E and Highway 280.”

There’ll be sermons about this. Karen Zamora and Paul Walsh of the Strib report, “A stolen Bible led to the arrest of two men charged Wednesday with robbing and fatally beating a 90-year-old man in his Carver County farmhouse. One of the suspects had recently painted Earl Olander’s house and decided he was ‘an easy target because he was an old man that lived alone and had money,’ the charges say. … Key to the arrests was a tip from a citizen who found two savings bonds issued to Olander inside the large, European-language Bible while cleaning a St. Paul apartment once occupied by [Edson] Benitez.”