Is $6 million even worth counting at this point? Stribber Janet Moore reports, “Its $6 million cost pales in comparison to the $1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium nearby, but a publicly financed pedestrian bridge at the Downtown East light-rail station is provoking protest from critics, many of whom say the team should foot the bill. … Light-rail operator Metro Transit, a division of the Met Council, said the bridge would ‘provide safe post-event pedestrian movements’ — especially during Vikings games. The ridership goal is 40 percent of attendance (capacity for Vikings games is about 65,000 fans). In addition, officials at the authority point out, the stadium also will be used for more than 400 events annually.”
The controversy over a Charlie Hebdo poster advertising a forum at the U of M has flared back up. Maura Lerner of the Strib says, “After initially demanding that the posters be taken down, university officials quickly rescinded the ban, calling it a mistake. Then, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigated and advised the dean of liberal arts to disavow the use of the offending image and ‘use your leadership role to repair the damage’ it caused in the Muslim community. Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law, said she was taken aback by the U’s response. ‘There is no question in my mind that this [poster] was protected speech,’ Kirtley said.”
Also on campus, a U of M student has reported that she was sexually assaulted in her dorm room early Sunday morning. Alex Friedrich at MPR says, “University spokesperson Tim Busse said the 18-year-old freshman was on her way to the bathroom when two men approached her. ‘They came up the stairs, said hello to her, and initiated the conversation,’ Busse said. He had no details on their conversation but said they offered to walk her back to her room. Once there, one of them threatened her with a knife and then both sexually assaulted her. On Monday afternoon, the woman reported the assault to campus police, who are now investigating.”
With that in mind, check out what Susan Du at City Pages reports. “Last week, [DFL Sen. Erin] Murphy attempted to tack an amendment to a Minnesota House of Representatives higher education bill that would inform college rape victims of the availability of free emergency contraception. She also proposed an amendment to a health and human services bill that would require secular businesses to offer prescription contraception in employee health plans. … Both provisions were booted during debate, with Reps. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) questioning the relevancy of contraception to the bills under discussion. The health and human services bill governs health plans’ drug coverage; the higher education bill includes an article on how colleges should respond to sexual assault on campus.” Now, if Murphy had appended language promoting silencers on assault rifles … .
A couple of Greater Minnesota electricity executives have thoughts on the fairness of solar and wind power producers not paying for grid maintenance. In a Strib commentary they write, “This legislative session, consumer-owned utilities are advocating for reform to a law we believe is inherently unfair to the majority of our customers. Small-scale wind and solar producers, known as distributed generators, currently sell their excess generation back to the utility at retail rates (the price at which the consumer-owned utility sells electric power to customers). When distributed generators produce as much energy as they use, they don’t pay anything for the cost of operating the electric grid that they rely on when their wind or solar installation is not producing energy. These costs are built into the electric rates paid by utility customers; if a distributed generator is compensated at the full retail rate, the generating customer is not making any contribution toward the cost of operating the grid; those costs are shifted onto other customers. We believe this is unfair … .”
Also on the same page, veteran urban development writer, Steve Berg writes, “Despite all the acrimony over costs, delays, routing, and now what looks like engineering ineptitude, calling it quits on light rail in the corridor, or converting it to a rapid bus line, would be the wrong thing to do. Here’s why: This is a mega-project aimed at the long term. Twenty years from now, no one will remember the cost. Even so, there’s a good chance that the overrun can be erased by, among other things, lopping off the last three stations, at least temporarily. That would trim the route from 16 miles to 12 while restoring the project’s momentum … .”
The bud is like ripening, dude. In the PiPress, Bob Shaw takes a tour of one of the state’s new authorized pot farms and says, “A year after the Legislature legalized the manufacture of marijuana-based medicines, the two companies are growing and cultivating plants, fine-tuning doses and converting their product to the more medicine-like forms the state allows since the law bans smoking the plant itself. … Because of the quasi-legality, doctors can’t prescribe it. They can only certify that a patient has a condition that can be treated with marijuana — such as certain cancers, glaucoma, AIDS, seizures and some terminal conditions. Those patients will be listed in a statewide registry, allowing them to buy the drugs. Kingsley estimates the cost per patient will be between $300 to $500 a month.”
Governor Dayton gets another shout out from the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn. “So far, the test in Kansas of conservative economic principles has largely been a failure. As we read in the Tribune’s Perspective section Tuesday, large tax cuts and other austerity measures in recent years intended to spur growth have instead resulted in swollen deficits, credit downgrades and public schools having to close early because they’re out of money. In contrast, the test in Minnesota of liberal economic principles has largely been a success. As we will read today, tax and spending increases in recent years have resulted in a budget surplus and a robust economic climate that’s the envy of the state’s Midwestern neighbors. … In contrast, PolitiFact reports that Wisconsin is facing a $2.2 billion shortfall in its upcoming two-year budget. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas appears to be $800 million short for fiscal year 2016.” And that with all our millionaires in … oh, you’ve heard that one before?
Bullet … dodged. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes, “Despite staunch opposition from Republicans, the DFL-controlled Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointments of Adam Duininck as chairman of the Metropolitan Council and state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. Dayton’s choices of 38 other department heads and members of state boards and commissions sailed through the Senate on voice votes with no audible opposition. But Duininck and Rothman drew partisan broadsides. Noting that Duininck is a former DFL fundraiser and married to Dayton’s chief of staff, Jaime Tinscher, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, called his appointment ‘cronyism.’”
And why did this take so long? Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR says, “A bill banning the sale of soaps and other personal care products containing plastic microbeads has passed the Minnesota Senate on a bipartisan vote. Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the ban in a 48-15 vote. The measure also has bipartisan support in the House, where it passed as part of a larger spending bill. State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said microbeads are a big problem in Lake Superior and end up in the fish people catch.”