Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Greater Minnesota leaders urge Legislature to act on key issues

Plus: Senate to vote on Real ID; Delta wants to help with security lines at MSP; new Minnesota AD Mark Coyle has some big decisions to make; and more. 

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

What exactly do they mean by “do something”? Like breathing and occupying space? Stribber Maya Rao says, “Leaders of cities from around Minnesota launched a lobbying blitz at the State Capitol on Wednesday as legislators struggled for a breakthrough on major sticking points in the final two weeks of the session. City officials met with legislators. They held a news conference. They gave out 350 vanilla sundae cones, ice cream sandwiches, and strawberry ice cream bars. ‘The fact is, we really have a chance to make this a do-something session … instead of all the talk about a do-nothing session,’ Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said.”

Also, Don Davis of the Forum News Service says this about the progress — or lack thereof — on transportation this session. “The key to finishing the 2016 Minnesota legislative session remains short of the ignition switch. Legislative leaders say the key to wrapping up all major issues before the constitutional May 23 adjournment date is figuring out how to infuse new money into transportation. Negotiators met Wednesday, adjourning after an hour with no sign they are ready to wrap up transportation issues. … Republicans propose spending about $30 million a year from general tax funds for transportation each year, taking money away from other unspecified state programs.”

Real ID: Brian Bakst of MPR says, “Legislation to bring Minnesota in line with new federal driver’s license security standards is primed for a vote in the state Senate Thursday, although lawmakers remain squeamish about asking Minnesotans to shoulder the cost. … it means anyone who gets a standard card between October and the Real ID rollout would have to go back to the renewal counter sooner. As it now stands, people in that position would do so at personal expense. Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said he suspects that won’t go over well.”

Speaking of fees, you just know someone at Delta is spitballing the idea of charging us $25 to move up in the TSA security lines. Kristen Leigh Painter and Janet Moore at the Strib say, “The largest airline at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is so worried about long lines at security checkpoints that it has offered up workers at no cost to the federal government. Delta is willing to assign some staffers at its major hubs to help the U.S. Transportation Security Administration fulfill any airport tasks that don’t require a badged agent in an effort to shorten lines, the airline’s chief executive Ed Bastian says. The offer from Delta Air Lines comes as airlines and airports fear that long lines seen earlier this year will return with rising passenger volumes during the summer months.” Or how about selling $5 cans of Coke to people waiting in line?

Article continues after advertisement

Strib business columnist Lee Schafer calls it like he (and everyone else) sees it with regard to the Pioneer Press. “The hedge fund that controls the Pioneer Press has apparently decided on one of the time-honored strategies to make money in a declining business. It’s called simply ‘harvest.’ It’s a business term that probably doesn’t need much further explanation. Selling off assets like real estate and cutting staff across the board are signs that the harvest is underway. At the Pioneer Press one indicator of what’s happening is that there are just 74 union jobs in the newsroom after the latest cutback, according to the Newspaper Guild, down from 400 in late 2006. … One nagging question is why another option didn’t get tried here in the Twin Cities, one the authors of the old Harvard endgame strategy study called simply ‘niche.’ This is similar to the leadership strategy, with a willingness to spend some money on service, marketing and product development, but to serve a far smaller targeted market where the most profitable customers remain.”

Opium? Say Stribbers Chao Xiong and Tim Harlow, “Three Twin Cities women were intercepted Tuesday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, allegedly carrying more than $3 million worth of heroin and opium concealed in bags of tea leaves. The women and drugs were believed to be on their way to Minnesota, said Kent Bailey, head of the Minneapolis Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office. ‘We do have opium coming in here on a regular basis,’ he said, adding that Chicago is a common stopover.”

Airborne knuckleheads. Says the AP: “Crews working by air to fight wildfires in northern Minnesota are being interrupted by intrusions into restricted airspace. The Minnesota Incident Command System says aerial firefighting operations were temporarily ceased in recent days because a private plane intruded into the airspace and a second time because an unmanned aircraft system, or drone, entered the firefighting zone.”

On the matter of the U of M’s new Athletics Director Mark Coyle and the high (and frequent) flying basketball coach Richard Pitino, John Shipley in the PiPress says, “The University of Minnesota has finally hired an athletics director, but we’re not done with Norwood Teague quite yet. The first order of business for Mark Coyle will be to hold his nose and trigger a buyout on Richard Pitino’s contract that currently sits at $5.7 million. Gophers fans can thank Teague for that parting gift. It’s one final kick in the shins from Coyle’s predecessor, who resigned in disgrace after drunkenly harassing two peers on a senior leadership retreat last July. It wasn’t enough for Teague to fire reasonably successful Tubby Smith and replace him with a cipher; just before sneaking out the back door, he raised Pitino’s salary by $400,000 a year and extended his deal through 2021.”

Shanghai has nothing on St. Paul. Says Andy Rathbun, “The city of St. Paul has surpassed the 300,000 mark for the first time since the 1970s, according to population estimates from the Metropolitan Council released Wednesday. The city’s new estimated population is 300,353, which is a 5.4 percent increase from 2010 to 2015, and it ranks among the metro cities that attracted the most new residents over that period.”