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Minneapolis approves landmark park and road funding deal

Plus: Legislature moving forward with drug-sentencing changes; objections to New London-Spicer School District transgender inclusion policy; an oral history of a stunning Prince performance; and more.

Park Board President Liz Wielinski and City Council President Barbara Johnson, two of the authors of the parks portion of the deal, congratulating one another after the vote.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

The deal is done. The Southwest Journal’s Eric Best and Sarah McKenzie report: “The City Council voted unanimously Friday to approve a new $800 million long-term funding plan for the city’s neighborhood parks and streets — heralding it as a historic agreement among city and park leaders to address significant infrastructure needs. … The plan dedicates $22 million in new money for street projects annually along with $11 million for neighborhood parks — a compromise proposal crafted by Mayor Betsy Hodges, City Council and Park Board leaders. Park leaders had previously been considering moving ahead with a referendum for voters this fall.”

Reducing most drug penalties — but raising them for marijuana. Makes sense. Former MinnPost reporter Andy Mannix writes (for the Star Tribune): “Minnesota legislators and criminal justice leaders have struck a deal on what could be the most significant reforms to the state’s drug laws in decades. … The deal would reduce the recommended prison sentence for first-degree sale and possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from seven years to five-plus years.  … The proposal would also stiffen marijuana laws. Right now, a first-degree charge is defined as selling 50 kilograms or possessing 100 kilograms. Those would both be cut in half.

A gulf between adults and students here. The West Central Tribune’s Carolyn Lange reports: “A petition that opposes a proposed transgender inclusion policy in the New London-Spicer School District was launched this week by a group calling itself NL-S Safe. … The group of concerned citizens believes the policy would be harmful to NLS students, said Gary Swenson, of Spicer, spokesman for the new organization. He served as moderator for a meeting of about 60 people Monday that resulted in the launch of the petition drive. … Carlson said NLS students are responding to the issue maturely. … ‘It’s neat to hear our kids and see how respectful our kids are,’ [Superintendent Paul] Carlson said. ‘It seems like some people are thinking about this every second of the day. Our kids aren’t, that’s for sure.’

The story behind a quitessential Prince performance. For the New York Times, Finn Cohen writes: “On March 15, 2004, George Harrison was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As part of the ceremony, an all-star band performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Mr. Harrison’s best-known Beatles song. The group featured Tom Petty and two other members of the Heartbreakers, as well as Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison (George’s son) and Prince, himself an inductee that year. Marc Mann, a guitarist with Mr. Lynne’s band, played Eric Clapton’s memorable solo from the album version of the song. But Prince, who essentially stood in the dark for most of the performance, burned the stage to the ground at the song’s end. … His three-minute guitar solo is a Prince milestone, a chance to see him outside of the purple-tinted (for once, he is dressed in red) context of his own meticulous studio craft. This was Prince the Lead Guitarist — those chops apparent on songs like ‘Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?,’ ‘Electric Chair’ and ‘When Doves Cry’ were given free range to roam. And when he tossed his instrument into the air at the very end of the song, it never appeared to land; it was almost as if Mr. Harrison had grabbed it himself in midair to signal, ‘That’s enough of that.’”

In other news…

Warner Bros. to “Purple Rain” director Albert Magnoli: “Is it possible to ask if John Travolta can play Prince?” [Rolling Stone]

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Also in Prince memories: Prince and First Avenue: a history of the club’s ties to its brightest star” [Star Tribune]

A video of Southdale from when it first opened. [Kottke]

Go figure: “Former DFL lawmaker running to be Trump delegate to Republican National Convention” [Star Tribune]

Ya rly: “Owlets, loons and more get care at northern Minnesota wildlife rehab facility” [Inforum]

Dateline Fargo: “’PROPERTY BROTHERS’ STAR: Bouncer Tried a Fixer-Upper… ON MY FACE!” [TMZ]