The new investigative unit affiliated with MPR, APM Reports, is out with its first big story — on serious problems at a private correctional facility for boys in northern Minnesota: “Last spring, Caroline Mattson informed her superiors at Minnesota’s largest private correctional facility for boys that three boys had told her they’d been sexually abused by an employee. They began an internal investigation, prompted either by that report or another. But the leaders there — at Mesabi Academy in Buhl, Minn. — did not tell St. Louis County authorities about the allegations, a decision that avoided outside scrutiny and may have evaded state law. Six months later, in October 2015, county officials learned of the alleged incidents, which both triggered their own investigation and contributed to a decision to end a contract critical to Mesabi’s ability to operate in Minnesota. As county officials proceeded down those paths, however, Mesabi Academy and an influential politician muscled up.”
News flash! Home construction looks at something other than luxury condos. Says Jim Buchta in the Star Tribune, “As first-time buyers in the Twin Cities slug it out over a paltry number of listings, homebuilders are scrambling to help satisfy that demand by ramping up construction of less expensive houses than the ones they’ve been building since the housing crash.”
One reason why times are tough on the Range. Marilyn Geewax of MPR says, “This week, U.S. Steel Corp. filed a trade complaint with the ITC, starting off with a traditional pricing complaint: ‘The Chinese industry has formed a cartel that sets purchase and sale prices, and controls production and export volumes to target export markets.’ But then it added a 21st century twist: ‘The Chinese industry has used its government to steal U.S. Steel’s closely guarded trade secrets and uses those trade secrets to produce advanced steel products it could not make on its own.’ The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker says its Chinese rivals must be investigated.” Boy, United Fruit would never pull anything like that!
A “shakeup” in St. Paul. Says Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press: “In St. Paul, a major property owner and a South Dakota-based newcomer are shaking up the tenant mix at six downtown buildings. A boutique hotel, market-rate apartments and possible senior housing are all in different stages of planning or construction. Jim Crockarell is no stranger to downtown, but his new business partners are. The building owner controls 14 or more downtown properties through Madison Equities, the family real estate company, and he’s got a major renovation planned for his latest office acquisition, the 32-story First National Bank Building.”
What with its city council meltdowns and stuff like this, Lake Elmo meets all the criteria for a reality TV gig. Says Bob Shaw in the PiPress, “Barry Weeks has nothing against flushing. He does it every day. But he doesn’t want to pay $40,000 to have his same toilets flush in the same way — to a new destination. ‘These costs are astronomical,’ said Weeks, who owns a two-bedroom home. ‘That $40,000 is a quarter of the value of my house.’ Weeks and other Lake Elmo residents have known for years that the city’s first sewers were coming. They heard about other projects, involving water, street and wastewater improvements.But the bills for many projects are arriving at the same time in a town that has never had citywide sewer, water or wastewater systems. Some property owners find the total staggering.”
Our distinctive bump got some play on CBS Sunday Morning. Says Lee Cowan, “The sound of distant deer hunters is about all you’ll hear along one remote tree-lined corridor — a stretch of the longest land border between two countries. On one side, Canada. On the other, the U.S. But this lonely spot is also the gateway to an American geographic oddity: Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, where one resident said, ‘Most people up here are adventurous, or crazy, or both!’ On a map it looks as if someone put a substantial part of Minnesota in Canada by mistake.”
You know who you are. In the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, Keith Goetzman writes, “The little cabin on Sullivan Lake in Morrison County is trim and tidy, with a fresh coat of green paint, a meticulously mowed lawn, and a rock-rimmed fire ring that looks like a great place for a marshmallow roast. But as Paul Kuske, conservation officer for the Department of Natural Resources, hops out of his patrol truck for a closer look, the scene loses a bit of its luster: Singed bits of newspaper skitter across the grass, propelled by a late-summer breeze coming off the lake. Rummaging through the ashes, Kuske soon identifies the remains of household garbage, including melted plastics. A brass nozzle protruding from a tubular chunk of charred material tells him that a garden hose was torched. Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, 31 have passed no-burn resolutions that ban all garbage burning and close a loophole that allowed farmers to burn agriculture-related waste. These resolutions help clear up confusion about burning laws and hold all citizens in the counties to the same standard. Some MPCA solid waste officials hope for statewide no-burn legislation.”
Still Prince: Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV says, “On Monday morning, a judge in Carver County will hold the first of what will likely be many hearings on how to settle Prince’s estate. Estimates of the value of the estate are all over the map, ranging from $100 million to $500 million. In Carver County alone, Prince owned not only Paisley Park but more than a dozen other properties valued at over $30 million. .. Because Prince had no children and wasn’t married, his sister, Tyka Nelson, and his half-siblings are his heirs. But legal analysts predict a lot of claims will be made for a share of the estate. A California man has already filed, saying he is the rightful owner of all Prince’s music because he and the singer had a verbal agreement dating back to the ‘90s.”
The AP reports, “Prince began wanting meals that were easier to digest and was fighting off waves of sore throats and frequent upset stomachs, the musician’s personal chef told The Associated Press. A law enforcement official has told the AP that investigators are looking into whether Prince, who was found dead at his home on April 21, died from an overdose and whether a doctor was prescribing him drugs in the weeks beforehand. … Ray Roberts, who cooked for Prince nearly every day for almost three years, said in an interview that wasn’t the man he saw nearly every night, ‘not even a hint. Not at all.’ But Roberts did start noticing changes in Prince’s diet — he was eating less and drinking less water, and looked like he was losing weight.”
Germany’s DW.com has this on the big guy the Vikings drafted. “Moritz Böhringer became the first ever international player to be drafted by an National Football League (NFL) team after the 22-year-old was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. … While Böhringer’s chances of reaching the 53-man Vikings roster that will go into the 2016/17 season remain slim, his achievement already caps a remarkable five years for the 22-year-old. From mechanical engineering student to an NFL player – Böhringer’s story will undoubtedly have inspired thousands of youngsters around the world to play in the NFL, and done wonders for the already popular sport of American Football in his home country.”
Speaking of sports, another WCCO-TV story says, “It’s game over for Sports Authority. The sporting goods retailer is closing all 450 of its stores, and 10 of them are in Minnesota. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. It indicated then it would close 140 stores and two distribution centers. Sports Authority is carrying just more than $1 billion in debt.” So where do we go for our Bohringer jerseys?
Well, this is like your opinion, man. At Seeking Alpha, David Zanoni says, “I think Target’s (NYSE:TGT) bathroom policy is a serious mistake from a business standpoint. The policy is scaring away customers, which is likely to lead to sales declines and a falling stock price. … News travels quickly with social media and many have strong opinions against the policy for personal safety/privacy reasons. This is likely to have a ripple effect that will lead to sales declines for Target. Target’s comp store sales increases were 1.9 percent for each of the past two quarters. Those are gains, but not large gains. With a large boycott spreading on social media among people with strong opinions against the bathroom policy, I think Target is likely to see a decline in year-over-year comp store sales.” Upside? Shorter check-out lines for everyone else.
Before the mosquitoes arrive, you might want to try this. Says Deane Morrison in a piece published by the Brainerd Dispatch, “On the 9th of May we’re treated to the spectacle of a small black dot crawling across the sun’s face. This is a rare transit of Mercury, when the little planet zips between Earth and the sun. The show runs from 6:13 a.m. to 1:42 p.m. CDT. … Not to be outdone, Mars reaches the climax of its 2016 appearance in the early morning of the 22nd, when Earth laps the red planet in the orbital race and it shines opposite the sun in the sky. At opposition, as it is called, Mars will be a mere 47.4 million miles away, blazing like a fiery ruby just beyond the claws of Scorpius.”