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Supporters of Minneapolis minimum wage amendment vow to launch voter drive

Plus: buckthorn problem in Minnesota getting worse; missing man found dead in upside-down car off I-94; no progress in negotiations between nurses and Allina; and more.

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

Go big or work for pennies. For MPR, Jon Collins reports, “Supporters of a charter amendment for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Minneapolis are vowing to launch the biggest voter drive in the city’s history. Meanwhile, the city says it has filed an appeal in district court of the judge’s decision allowing the measure to go on the ballot. Neighborhoods Organizing for Change field director Mike Griffin said at a rally in north Minneapolis on Tuesday that his group planned to start canvassing for the Nov. 8 vote after Labor Day.”

At the car site Jalopnik (part of the Gawker Media empire sold off to Univision), Jason Torchinsky picks up on a Bob Collins post at MPR. “John Krenik lives in St. Paul, Minn. and owns two collector cars that he keeps in his driveway. I’d like to tell you more about the cars, but I can’t because they’re both under tarps. Tarps that were used to “screen” the cars, per Minnesota law. Incredibly, this isn’t enough for Krenik’s neighbors or the state of Minnesota, which has declared these cars a public health hazard. Get ready to get so frustrated you punch your screen. … What the [bleep] is wrong with these neighbors? How fragile and tenuous would your grasp on happy living have to be that the mere sight of the roof of a car in your neighbor’s [bleeping] driveway is enough to make you so distraught you file a formal complaint? This is one of those rare cases where I actually hope this is all based on some sort of other disagreement between the neighbors, because that’s the only thing that would make any sense.”

Invasive species watch. At FOX 9, the story goes: “It is a problem the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says is only getting worse. Buckthorn, an invasive shrub, continues to spread across much of the state, choking out native species in the process. … Burks says fighting the shrub is a top priority, but wiping it out may be impossible. Buckthorn can be found across most of central and southern Minnesota. Experts say it was originally brought to the upper Midwest as an ornamental shrub over 100 years ago. It has spread quickly due largely to birds that often eat the plant’s berries, thus spreading the seeds across the state.” So if we got rid of all the birds … .

An option the GOP may soon want to consider. Says Ed Mazza at The Huffington Post, “Duke may be the most popular politician in America, winning re-election for a landmark third time in a landslide. What’s his secret? Probably the fact that he’s a dog, and everyone loves dogs.  In a vote held over the weekend, the 9-year-old Great Pyrenees won his third consecutive term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota. Voters paid $1 each to cast ballots in the election, which was held during the annual ‘Cormorant Daze’ festival.”

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Says Nicole Norfleet in the Strib, “The state of Minnesota is suing a business based in Jamaica that it alleges threatened Minnesotans with arrests and lawsuits if they did not pay debts that weren’t real. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Global Gateway Solutions Inc., which also does business as First Recovery Associates, Northwest Recovery Associates and National Recovery Associates, after the office received numerous complaints from citizens saying they had been bullied by calls from the company.” 

Odd. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “A 47-year-old man who had been missing for nearly three weeks has been found dead in an upside-down car in a creek off a central Minnesota interstate. A Minnesota Department of Transportation crew spraying vegetation in ditches and ‘going slow on the shoulder’ spotted the Scion and notified authorities early Monday afternoon, said Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.’” This one though is the classic of the kind.

Speaking of classic. Tom Cherveny for the Forum News Service says, “A Bird Island, Minnesota, woman who has served as a caregiver to her two grandchildren and described as honest and giving to others will serve 42 months in federal prison for stealing $1.7 million from her former employer. Diane Marie Eiler, 48, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised probation, and ordered to make $1,738,459 in restitution to AgQuest Financial Services of Morgan … . Eiler lost more than $1.3 million at Minnesota casinos between 2006 and 2015, and gambled more than $1.6 million at Jackpot Junction in Morton in 2009 alone, according to court records.” She had big dreams.

In case you were wondering. The AP says, “The Minnesota Nurses Association said no progress was made Tuesday after a return to the bargaining table with Allina Health. The union representing about 4,800 nurses at five Allina hospitals in the Twin Cities area rejected a labor contract offer last week and authorized an open-ended strike, just two months after a weeklong strike ended without a deal. No strike date has been set, but a union spokeswoman said in a statement that nurses are prepared to strike ‘five, six, seven weeks, whatever it takes.’”

So maybe every council member should be required to carry their own “rudeness” insurance? Says Bob Shaw in the PiPress, “What’s the cost of rudeness? In Lake Elmo, it could soon be about $250,000 for every personnel-related insurance claim brought against the city. Citing dysfunction of the city council, insurance officials are considering boosting the city’s deductible payments. That would make Lake Elmo the only Minnesota city to pay more because of city council misbehavior, according to Dan Greensweig, assistant administrator with the League of Minnesota Cities.” So can you collect if someone gives you a stink eye?

Maybe this explains the problem in Lake Elmo. Another MPR story says, “Minnesota health officials are ordering bottled water for 80 homes in southern Washington County after determining perfluorochemical levels in the well water of those homes now exceeds a new federal health advisory level. Residents were told this week about the contamination and will receive the bottled water at no cost until carbon filter systems can be installed in their homes, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday.”

Another review of our $1.1 (plus) billion football palace. This time from Ben Goessling at ESPN. “Judging by what fans said upon exiting the stadium following the Metallica show, with their heads still throbbing from Lars Ulrich’s famous kick drum in “Enter Sandman,” U.S. Bank Stadium is going to be loud. Like, possibly louder than the Metrodome. Like, so loud that HealthPartners sent me this article with suggestions for protecting your hearing during Vikings games. The Vikings say the clear plastic material that HKS used on the roof — a polymer called ETFE — is more acoustically reflective than the Metrodome’s Teflon roof, meaning the successor to one of the NFL’s most unnerving venues could be even more harrowing. The Vikings’ regular-season home opener on Sept. 18 against the Green Bay Packers figures to put that theory to the test right away.”

A commodity in big demand … whiskey barrels. Says John Enger for MPR, “The Black Swan Barrel company in Park Rapids is not a quiet place. Industrial wood planers shape white oak into staves. Workers bind them with steel rings, submerge them in hot water, then sear the inside with fire. According to business owner Heidi Karasch, it’s especially loud right now. Her workers are rushing just to meet the rapidly growing demand for whiskey barrels. ‘We’re over 10 months behind right now’, she said. ‘So if you wanted to place an order today, you’d have to wait.’” But they come empty, right?