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Duluth takes steps to dramatically curb coal consumption

Plus: suburban buses subsidized more heavily than light rail; U student security monitors struggle with bridge encounters; missing Block E; and more.

REUTERS/Kristina Barker

Cities taking over the war on coal. MPR’s Dan Kraker reports: “Every year the city of Duluth burns more than 50,000 tons of coal at its downtown steam plant. That’s enough coal to fill one of the 1,000-foot cargo ships that ply the waters of nearby Lake Superior. … But this year, as part of a new pilot project announced Wednesday, the city is poised to cut that amount of coal burned by more than 40 percent by switching to natural gas at the plant, which provides heat to 200 buildings in the city’s downtown core.”

Not to mention all the roads you can drive your car on for free. WCCO’s Pat Kessler reports: “The Minnesota Legislature is preparing deep budget cuts to Twin Cities transit systems, especially light rail. … Critics say taxpayers pay millions of dollars a year to subsidize every passenger. … While it’s true that taxpayers subsidize every passenger on the light rail, it’s less than you think and less than other common transit systems, like suburban buses.

A tough job for these students. The Minnesota Daily’s Bella Dally-Steele reports: “When a student is in crisis on the Washington Avenue Bridge, the task of talking them off the ledge often falls to student security monitors. … With far more security monitors on campus than police officers, the monitors are often left in charge of high stress situations, like reports of a potentially suicidal student. On average, University Security gets those reports from student monitors once every month or two, according to a student monitor who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. … A monitor who also asked to remain anonymous for the same reason, said worrying about bridge incidents is the most stressful part of their job, even though they’ve never experienced one.”

Love letter to the old, cool Block E. For City Pages, (MinnPost alum) Max Sparber writes: “In a story about the square’s $98 million sale to a Chicago firm, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Journal described Block E as ‘once downtown Minneapolis’s most unloved building.’ … That’s a popular perception about the block: That it was a problem spot, a blight on the city. A Minneapolis City Council member even sang a song at the destruction of an earlier iteration of the block, to the tune of ‘Bye, Bye Blackbird’: ‘Pack up all your crime and porn / Block or scorn, be reborn / Bye bye, Block E.’ … But I loved Block E. And I wasn’t alone.

In other news…

The buck stops … over there! “Kaler, Claeys Contradicted Each Other on Suspensions, Emails Show” [KSTP]

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More bad news: “Wells Fargo’s profit flat, costs and mortgages weigh” [REUTERS]

In case you wondered what the former governor is up to these days: “Jesse Ventura to Keynote at Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition in New York

Details, details: “Scott Walker Is a Top Target for Democrats. So Why Can’t They Find Someone to Run Against Him?” [Governing]

This is cool: “Sidewalk Harp – Minneapolis, Minnesota” [Atlas Obscura]

Fun: “Jessica Alba surprises Target shoppers with makeovers in Edina store” [Star Tribune]

Today in history: