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Keillor: ‘This is my last year’

Plus: Price wars in the wine stores; Vikings tout stadium progress; settlement negotiations ordered in Adrian Peterson suspension fight; spiny waterflea infestation in Lake Vermilion; and more.

Garrison Keillor
Courtesy of Prairie Home Productions
Garrison Keillor

This time, really. The AP says, “In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, [Garrison] Keillor said he plans to step down as host after next season — following four decades of entertaining listeners with his baritone voice and folksy comedy sketches about Lake Wobegon, his mythical Minnesota hometown ‘where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.’ … ‘I have a lot of other things that I want to do. I mean, nobody retires anymore. Writers never retire. But this is my last season. This tour this summer is the farewell tour,’ the 72-year-old Keillor said, laughing and joking as he sat in his book-lined office in St. Paul wearing his signature red socks.”

Not quite Donald Trump. In the Strib, Ricardo Lopez applies a bit of context to things Al Franken said years ago about John McCain. “Sen. Al Franken on Monday said that past remarks he made more than 15 years ago — before he became a senator — about Sen. John McCain’s military service were a joke. … Franken’s remarks also appeared in a 2000 Salon article. That story quotes Franken as saying ‘I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don’t buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I’m concerned he sat out the war.’ Before that, Franken made the joke at a 1999 White House Photographers Dinner, CNN Politics reported.

Rain is good. Says the AP: “In its weekly crop progress and condition report for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that topsoil moisture supplies are rated 87 percent adequate, 10 percent surplus, and only 3 percent short. Subsoil moisture is 89 percent adequate, 6 percent surplus and 5 percent short.” My hosta are flourishing.

In the realm of the utterly predictable: WCCO-TV and the AP say, “A group of Minnesota lawmakers has called on Gov. Mark Dayton to investigate claims that Planned Parenthood is selling human fetal tissue in violation of federal law, claims that the birth control organization dismisses as false. … Sixty-five lawmakers signed their names to the letter, including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, and Minority Leader David Hann.”

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Officially, a troubling trend. MPR’s story on traffic mayhem says, “Weekend accidents pushed Minnesota 2015 road deaths above 200, 21 percent higher than the same time last year. Officials on Monday pleaded with drivers to curb the deadly trend. … Driver inattention and distraction was the number one contributing factor in 2014 traffic fatalities in multiple vehicle crashes, surpassing speed as the top factor a year ago, the public safety agency said.”

Related. Ashley Roberts at WCCO-TV says, “In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports 30,112 DWI arrests. That same year, 112 people were killed in drunk-driving related crashes. In 2014, the agency reports 25,258 arrests; 88 people died from drunk-driving related crashes.”

For god’s sake don’t tell Wisconsin. At WCCO-TV Esme Murphy says, “Since Total Wine stores entered the Twin Cities market with its four super stores, full out price wars have been underway. For years, national chains avoided Minnesota because of its restrictive liquor laws, including the ban on Sunday sales. Total Wine, however, decided Minnesota was too good a market to pass up. ‘Alcohol alone in Minnesota is a $3 billion industry,’ Professor David Vang of the University of St. Thomas said. Vang says Total Wine’s plunge into the Minnesota market has been a game changer. Jack Farrell, who has owned Haskell’s liquor stores for more than forty years, agrees.”

The Vikings are working the media for positive coverage. Robb Jeffries in the Duluth News Tribune says, “Much of the seating is ready to go — if this were a replica of the Roman Coliseum. Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority, said actual seats with backs would be installed on the graduated concrete terraces next month. [VP Lester] Bagley said the team was ahead of schedule on ticket sales for the inaugural season, with about 40,000 season tickets sold, and 80 percent of luxury boxes and the like reserved. The framework for both large Jumbotrons are in place, as are the pillars for the large, rotating glass doors facing downtown Minneapolis. Crews have started installing the south-facing ETFE roof — a glass-like material that will be tinted to eliminate shadows on the playing field. The installation of the scoreboards (December-January), the locker rooms (April) and the field (May) all lead up to the first Vikings preseason game in August 2016.”

For MPR, Tim Nelson says, “Next month the 65,000 seats will start to arrive. By Aug. 10, workers will be installing a chair every two minutes, Mansell said. In December, installation starts on a lot of the technology, scoreboards and ribbon boards. By January, all the scoreboards will be complete. ‘The playing field turf will start in the month of May, and in July, we’ll be done just in time for the kickoff of the 2016 season,’ said Eric Grenz, a construction manager. A few unknowns remain. The Vikings have put nearly $100 million in amenities into the project so far, from ‘graffiti-resistant’ toilet stalls, to extra escalators and more than 1,200 TVs. There may be more additions as the project heads into the final lap of construction, said team spokesman Lester Bagley.” Uh huh. When do we schedule the Super Bowl parade?

Speaking of certain championships, the AP says, “A federal magistrate ordered the NFL and the NFL Players Association into settlement negotiations Monday in their fight over Adrian Peterson’s suspension. U.S. Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron set a settlement conference for Aug. 13. That is the same day U.S. District Judge David Doty has scheduled a hearing on the NFLPA’s contempt-of-court motion against the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell, for not complying with Doty’s order to send Peterson’s disciplinary matter back to the NFL arbitrator.”

Invasive species watch. Says WCCO-TV, “The Department of Natural Resources says Lake Vermilion, one of Minnesota’s most scenic lakes, is infested with spiny waterflea. Officials say anglers reported the presence of the invasive species to conservation officers, who confirmed that the small crustaceans are in the lake.”

Still a topic. Muhktar Ibrahim of MPR reports, “The Metropolitan Airports Commission is reviewing complaints from Minneapolis residents about airport noise after an increase in number of overnight flights. Noise complaints from residents have increased this summer due to additional flights to and from the West Coast at night, said Patrick Hogan, director of public affairs and marketing for the MAC. … Also Monday, MAC officials said massive construction work will begin at the airport in 2016 and last for about three to five years.” So what’s going to be built? A bank vault for Delta’s extraneous fees profits?