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St. Paul school board looking to part ways with superintendent Valeria Silva

Plus: officials ‘kick off’ reconstruction of Nicollet Mall; former Miss North Dakota found dead in Minneapolis; another look inside the almost-completed U.S. Bank stadium; and more.

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva
MinnPost photo by Tony Nelson

Buyer’s remorse. Says Josh Verges in the PiPress, “Six months into a three-year contract, Valeria Silva may be on her way out as superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools. School board members said Wednesday that they, along with Silva, are ‘presently exploring’ options for moving her out of the role she’s held since December 2009. That likely would mean a six-figure buyout as the district grapples with a $15.1 million deficit for the coming school year.”

This is good. Says Martin Moylan at MPR, “The job market seems to be improving in Minnesota, at least for people like [Joe] Novitzki. The state’s unemployment rate is about at pre-recession levels and the average wage for private-sector jobs has been growing at a healthy clip. But if times are good for workers, it means many employers are struggling to find people. They’re not only spending more on wages — employers are turning to other strategies to procure the skills they need.”

Is there an agency to fine legislatures for “sub-par performance”? Also from the Strib’s Olson: “Minnesota hospitals have lost millions in penalties to the federal Medicare program over the last three years for sub-par performance, though they’re in much better shape than hospitals elsewhere.”

Wait a minute. They’re just starting construction? Tim Nelson of MPR reports, “A year after it closed, the Nicollet Mall is finally ready for a $50 million makeover. Leaders kicked off construction of the mall’s new design on Wednesday. The 12-block project will update sidewalks and streetlights, as well as add trees, a place for art and an LED light display. City officials acknowledge the revamp will be a difficult, disruptive process, but they’re confident it will be worth it when it’s finished. … There’s still a lot of construction work left, but city officials say the new street will start taking shape later this year. Final touches are expected to be complete by 2018.”

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Cable news will be on this. Mary Lynn Smith of the Strib says, “A former Miss North Dakota was found dead Tuesday in a Minneapolis home. Investigators are waiting for the Hennepin County medical examiner to determine the cause of Samantha M. Edwards’ death, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said. …  Edwards, 37, who was known as ‘Sami’ by her friends, was crowned Miss North Dakota USA in 2003.”

But we can “control conduct” within our own borders, right? The story at, by Sonal Patel, says, “A Minnesota law that bans power imports from new out-of-state coal-fired power plants is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court has deemed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on June 15 upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota that found that the statute’s prohibitions had the effect of ‘controlling conduct’ beyond Minnesota’s state boundaries. The Next Generation Energy Act was passed in 2007 primarily to place a moratorium on the construction of new coal plants in Minnesota, but it also barred state entities from importing power from new ‘large energy facilities’ or entering into long-term power purchase agreements that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions.”

Want to see what you’re getting for your money? Thanks to Cork Gaines and Business Insider, you can ogle the almost finished Vikings stadium.

Related. Rochelle Olson of the Strib: “U.S. Bank Stadium contractor Mortenson Construction and subcontractor Berwald Roofing face fines of $173,400 for ‘serious’ and ‘willful’ safety violations in the death of one worker and injury to another last August. … The reports don’t provide an explanation of the accidents, but the largest fine — $70,000 — and most serious alleged violation faults Berwald for willfully failing to have workers use proper fall protection while working at heights above 6 feet.”

Also in the Strib, food writer Rick Nelson gives Duluth area dining some love. This one is right on. “Ten years ago, Steve and Susan Knauss converted a retrofitted creamery into fun-loving Thirsty Pagan Brewing [in Superior], instantly making it a Mecca for those in search of the Badger State Holy Grail that is beer and pizza.” Or, stop in at Superior Meats and grill your own.

Here’s the latest dream about turning little old us into “the next Silicon Valley.”  Says Elizabeth Segran at Fast Company, “[Atif Siddiqi] just gotten a step closer to his goal because Branch Messenger is one of 10 startups selected to be in Techstars’ first retail accelerator, which it is launching in partnership with Target. Starting on June 20, these startups will spend 12 weeks in Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they will receive mentorship from Target’s leadership as well as through the Techstars network. … The startups won’t necessarily end up selling their products or services to Target, but for many teams, like Siddiqi’s, that would be a dream come true.”

Stuff he probably didn’t learn at the police academy. Matt Cory and Audrey Zimmerman of the Forum News Service report, “The City Council of Blackduck voted to fire Chief of Police John Wilkinson earlier this month for violating city and state policies and for conduct unbecoming of a law officer. … According to city documents, Wilkinson, 35, was fired for violating city policies, as well as for possibly violating state laws by allegedly giving an 18-year-old female an alcoholic drink at a July 4, 2015, party, and at a different time, boasting loudly of a sexual relationship between the two. He also purchased illegal fireworks for the July 4 party, according to an investigation done by a member of the Grand Rapids Police Department.” So, wait, it was it the fireworks that did him in?