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$300 million referendum proposed for Minneapolis parks

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

$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.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/07/2016 - 07:39 am.

    The Sunday game

    So Mark Craig’s discussion of a typical Minnesotan’s acclimation to low winter temperatures is not without historical precedent. However, he’s left out one important point:

    We haven’t yet HAD any long stretches of that kind of cold this year to build our tolerance. And Sunday’s predicted single digit reading comes abruptly on the heels of yet another string of mild 30-or-so days.

    It would seem to me that the Vikings haven’t had the opportunity for the kind of acclimation that he refers to. With respect to the adverse effects of the stress of cold weather thermal shock, I don’t think the Minnesota players are set to benefit from nearly as much of an advantage over the Seattle players as he is implying.

    We shall see, though . . . . . .

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/07/2016 - 08:57 am.

      Two points

      Kudos to Mike Zimmer for having the foresight to pick the sunny side of the field for his team’s bench. I hear the temperature difference between the shady side and sunny side is significant.

      The Vikings’ quarterback is from Miami and Seattle’s quarterback is from Ohio, so there’s that.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/07/2016 - 07:57 am.

    School integration

    It’s pretty hard to justify spending any capital on dealing with racial integration in the schools when racial minorities are now the majority. The non-white student population now makes up 77.5% of the enrollments in St. Paul for example.

    What they should be worried about is the declining numbers as more parents are finding safer places for their kids to go to school. There are now only 37,000 students enrolled in St. Paul’s public schools, down from 45,000 just a few years ago.

  3. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 01/07/2016 - 09:55 am.

    Blue Cross Blue Shield is not your friend

    In WI, BCBS created Anthem to take on Obamacare customers. Since the health insurers have refused to insure me for over thirty years (there are some prescription drugs actuaries are literally terrified of), I’m not terribly familiar with their practices. In WI, Anthem lasted less than a year, cancelling all policies and leaving the state in December because, apparently, they could.

    I’m still trying to figure out how you get away with selling insurance then retroactively make it term insurance without issuing any refunds. But that’s OK. I’ve got my wake up robo call from Obamacare to keep reminding me every day that I again do not have insurance because an insurance company wants nothing to do with a healthy guy who’s never been hospitalized during that thirty years they refused to take my money.

    The system is broken. Stop trying to fix what cannot be fixed and replace it with single-payer.

    • Submitted by Walt Cygan on 01/07/2016 - 11:43 am.

      Only one issue

      I only have one issue with your comment.

      You can’t call what we have now a “system”. It doesn’t qualify.

      • Submitted by Russell Booth on 01/07/2016 - 04:04 pm.

        A Hundred Million Payers Health Care “System”

        It’s a system – that nobody can understand. All because our government bureaucrats are too incompetent to handle a national health care system. Makes me proud to be an American.

        I have read several gloom and doom articles (Strib, NYTimes) about how it will be impossible for Americans to pay such a high deductible. Not one even mentioned Health Savings Accounts. That’s what the “HSA” in the name of the policy stands for, in case anybody wonders. Even health beat reporters do not seem aware of basic elements of the current system.

        Because our bureaucrats are so incompetent here, unlike Canada, we each have to learn how to do the work we do not trust our incompetent bureaucrats to do. We each need a small bucket because one big bucket is, frankly, too scary. Someone else might benefit from *my* hard earned dollars. *shudder*

        Sorry, I cannot let you use my HSA dollars for your large medical bill because it’s against the law.

  4. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/07/2016 - 12:56 pm.

    More proof that

    This new bridge was a big mistake in the first place, especially for MN. When do we hear about the cost overruns?

  5. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 01/07/2016 - 01:32 pm.

    Thanks to Professor Lynn Blewett for

    responding to Professor Parente’s doomsaying piece on MnSure in the Strib.

    In a nutshell, the following statement says it all:

    “Here’s the bottom line: Minnesota’s prices in MNsure are still among the lowest.”

    Professor Parente has ties to, and a long history with, medical insurance companies and the medical industry in Minnesota.

    See: Greed is good

    “It’s one thing if you’re bringing in a criminal to speak. But if someone’s under investigation, that’s fair game,” he [Parente] said.

    Stephen Parente, director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota


    One of the great things about academia is that people like Professor Blewett can stand up to the Parentes of the world, without getting their heads chopped off. Another benefit of tenure!

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