$300 million for parks. Says Steve Brandt in the Star Tribune, “Minneapolis park Superintendent Jayne Miller Wednesday formally proposed that all city residents vote in November on a referendum that would generate about $300 million over 20 years for neighborhood parks in Minneapolis. The proposal would tie the increased park spending to the city’s taxable property base, generating an estimated $15 million initially. The owner of a $190,000 single-family house — close to the city median value — would pay an estimated $65.53 more per year initially.”
Who among you didn’t support their friendly neighborhood merchant? Anne D’Innocenzio of the AP says, “Macy’s is cutting up to 4,800 jobs and has slashed its profit outlook after a miserable holiday season. The nation’s largest department store chain, which also operates upscale Bloomingdale’s, said about 2,110 of the job cuts will come from reducing staffing levels at stores, eliminating duplications in back office operations and consolidating regional store groups. The remaining 2,710 job cuts will come from the store closings that Macy’s announced last fall, says Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski.” I suppose the 70 percent off stuff won’t help much.
So is a step backward what we now call progress? Christopher Magan of the Pioneer Press says, “The Minnesota Department of Education is moving forward with a rewrite of state rules for integrating schools despite criticism that the changes are a step backward. … State education officials say the changes bring increased focus to improving minority student academic performance and closing the achievement gap. There is less emphasis on bringing racial balance to schools deemed ‘racially isolated’ because they enroll inordinately large numbers of minority students.”
In a Strib commentary, U of M prof Lynn Blewett (a native of beautiful, bucolic Montevideo, I believe) argues against a colleague’s view that Obamacare is a disaster. “Doomsayers insist on promoting misleading bleak accounts. But there is a lot of good news — including improved health insurance coverage in Minnesota, where the uninsured rate has been cut in half from 9.5 percent in 2013 to 4.6 percent in the first half of 2015. … You’ve seen worrisome headlines about MNsure. Some are legitimate challenges; others are misunderstandings. … Here’s the bottom line: Minnesota’s prices in MNsure are still among the lowest.”
Western Wisconsin developers may be jumping off the thing before any cars cross it. Says Stribber Kevin Giles, “The new St. Croix River bridge won’t open until late 2017, a full year after originally planned, because of equipment problems, material shortages and weather delays, Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation agencies said Wednesday. The announcement was the first official acknowledgment of a new project schedule since the agencies reported in September that a string of problems had slowed construction and that the original 2016 completion date no longer was attainable.”
The Waseca kid who plotted an attack will do his treatment time in Minnesota. In the Mankato Free Press, Nancy Madsen writes, “Waseca teen John LaDue’s future remains unclear after a sentence modification hearing Wednesday. What is clear is that LaDue, 19, who pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive device after being accused of plotting to detonate bombs at Waseca Junior-Senior High School, will be treated in Minnesota. … He would be there for about three months while he is evaluated and a treatment strategy is devised. Minnesota Prairie County Alliance, which runs the county’s human services, is coordinating finding such a placement for LaDue. MNPrairie also has paved the way for Medical Assistance to pay for the treatment.”
You wonder how often this happens. Stribber Christopher Snowbeck reports, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota paid a $20,000 penalty last year after regulators found the insurer denied a patient’s claim for services, even though the medication in question had been deemed medically necessary by an external review committee. Mike Rothman, the commissioner of the state’s Commerce Department, called Blue Cross’s action in the case a ‘blatant violation’ of consumer protection laws that give consumers a right to a binding external review when insurers deny claims for medical care.”
Today from Seattle. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times does a Q&A with the Star Tribune’s Mark Craig on the game, and concludes with this:
Q5: Finally, much is already being made out here about the weather. What kind of impact do you think that could have on the game?
A: I think it could have a big impact if it’s going to be as cold as they say. Forecasts are calling for zero with a minus-11 wind chill. I don’t think either side will enjoy that kind of cold. But living here, I’ll tell you that by January you’re body starts to adjust. The first cold days of the season, you shiver. Then you get a couple blasts of arctic chill. You’re still cold, but it doesn’t feel as cold. By late February, if it’s 5 degrees, you’re going to the mailbox in shorts and a t-shirt. … Last year, it was 12 degrees with a bit of a wind chill when Carolina came to TCF Bank Stadium. It was the seventh-coldest home game in franchise history. The Panthers were visibly miserable, especially Cam Newton. They appeared to check out early in a game the Vikings won 31-13. Seattle is better than that Carolina team last year.
Our students abroad all returned home safely. Says Maura Lerner in the Strib, “For the first time, Minnesota is tracking the health and safety of college students who study abroad. And the results show that 2014-2015 was a pretty safe year, all things considered. The report, from the state’s Office of Higher Education, found that some 10,000 students participated in the Minnesota Study Abroad program between August, 2014 and July, 2015. Of those, 28 were hospitalized while overseas, but everyone returned home safely.”
Foodie chatter. At MPR, Tom Crann and Rachel Hutton discuss why top chefs move here. “Spoon and Stable has been named Restaurant of the Year by Minnesota Monthly and other local publications. No surprise there, since its chef and owner Gavin Kaysen has been lauded with accolades since his North Loop eatery opened in late 2014. The restaurant is perhaps the best example of a trend of big-city chefs moving to the Twin Cities to open their own restaurants. … Hutton said the high quality of life, lower stress levels and lower cost of living in the Twin Cities has drawn Kaysen and others to open up restaurants there. Plus, the level of sophistication in the Twin Cities dining scene is getting higher.” Damn straight. That’s why I still eat at Mayslack’s.