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Feds focus on gas meter in Minnehaha Academy explosion

REUTERS/Adam Bettcher
Emergency personnel spraying water on the scene of the building collapse at Minnehaha Academy.

The Strib trio of Paul Walsh, Libor Jany and Miguel Otárola reports, “Federal investigators are focusing on whether workers moving a gas meter at Minnehaha Academy’s upper campus could have caused a Wednesday explosion that ripped a huge gash through the center of the building in south Minneapolis, killing two staff members and injuring nine others. … In the course of the on-site probe, which will start Friday and is expected to last about a week, the team will focus in part on whether workers turned off the gas inside the school rather than at the street before work began … .”

With the Minnehaha Academy explosion still fresh in everyone’s mind the AP has this story. “A Minnesota contractor who damaged a natural gas pipeline in western North Dakota last week has a history of striking pipelines. The most recent damage occurred while Carstensen Contracting was installing a water pipeline near Watford City. The incident caused the release of 126,000 gallons of natural gas liquids and shut down a gas processing plant for three days. No one was hurt. It’s at least the second gas pipeline the contractor has damaged in North Dakota while installing water pipelines … .”

This seems to be an annual phenomenon. At the PiPress Jamie DeLage says, “Somewhat surprising: 20 people got tickets for going 100 mph or more during an enforcement blitz last month in Minnesota. Really kind of shocking: One guy got a ticket for going 100 mph over the speed limit. As in 155 mph. That happened July 16 on a rural road between Detroit Lakes and Moorhead. The ticket issued to a Kindred, N.D., motorcyclist was among 16,580 speeding tickets written during the July 7-23 special enforcement period, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Another 1,781 seat belt citations were written.” Don’t you want to see his next insurance bill?

Was he a “bad hombre”? Also in the PiPress Josh Verges says, “A St. Paul father with only driving violations on his record is expected to be deported soon to his native Guatemala. Rudy Lopez Vasquez, 29, was placed in the custody of immigration officials within hours of his May 9 arrest in Coon Rapids for driving without a license. He had been fined for the same offense at least twice in the four years prior. But under President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, it no longer matters whether an undocumented person with a removal order is picked up for a serious crime, a minor one or, in some cases, no crime at all.” What did Emma Lazarus say again?

Another racial gap. This time the attention is on minority mental health. MPR’s Emma Sapong says, “Gregory Clark Jr. entered the University of Minnesota with scholarships and promise. Clark seemed to make the transition easily from Minneapolis North Community High School to the U. But after two years, life at college began to unravel due to a mental illness. He’d become unmoored and unmotivated, dropping out of college, and then life. ‘I just stopped doing the things that were important to me — the things I loved,’ Clark said. ‘I didn’t know how to get my focus back.’ It would take six more years for Clark to find a therapist who understood his struggles and could help him find a path forward. Clark said it made a difference that the therapist was an African-American man like him and could shape the treatment with an important window onto his life.”

Where nature meets competing bureaucracies. Dan Kraker at MPR reports, “The Superior National Forest has released the draft of a proposal it hopes will settle a 40-year old controversy over about 50 square miles of state school trust land trapped inside the federally controlled Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The state is required to manage that land to generate revenue for public schools; but the federal government is required to restrict development and manage the Boundary Waters as wilderness. The draft environmental impact statement released Thursday reflects a compromise reached five years ago by state and federal officials. But many environmental groups object, fearing it could pave the way for more mining and logging outside the wilderness.”

Irony alert. Libor Jany (again) writes for the Strib,Janeé Harteau was named the 2017 Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year by her peers across the country on Thursday, just two weeks after she resigned as Minneapolis police chief. Harteau, who was ousted last month amid controversy over the police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, received the award at the annual conference of National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) in Kansas City, Mo. ‘Chief Janeé Harteau has made a real difference for the police officers and citizens of Minneapolis and those she has touched through her various teaching, mentoring and speaking engagements,’ said NAWLEE officials in a statement announcing the award.”

The Strib also gets in on the Foxconn action by picking up a Bloomberg editorial on Wisconsin’s gargantuan incentive-laden giveaway. “Such incentives are generally an awful way to lure jobs — expensive, inefficient and fraught with unintended consequences. They can prompt costly bidding wars between states and impede other budget priorities. They have little effect on employment, growth or wages. They may induce unwise borrowing. Companies often come back again and again, as blackmailers tend to, seeking yet more blandishments. And nothing stops them from walking away when times get tough. States are also apt to loosen the rules. Among other perks, Foxconn won’t need to obtain the state permits ordinarily required to discharge dredged material into local wetlands. Nor will it have to submit to standard environmental-impact studies. Such exceptions make for irrational public policy.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/04/2017 - 07:39 am.

    Foxconn in Wisconsin

    The headline reads “Scott Walker brings jobs to Wisconsin,”

    As with a Trump casino, what happens later,…

    (violating the terms of construction and supply contracts by refusing to pay those who did the work or supplied materials and equipment, the eventual bankruptcy of the entire enterprise, etc.)…

    doesn’t matter in the least.

    That headline is all that matters to these Republican hucksters,…

    and those who take advantage of their need for that big headline,…

    to rip off an entire state in the amount of billions of dollars.

    (Just ask Pennsylvania where THEIR Foxconn plant is.)

    The real question is whether the people of Wisconsin can smell and taste the difference between the cheap booze being peddled by their snake oil salesman in chief,…

    and the fine wine he CLAIMS he’s selling.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/04/2017 - 09:08 am.

    “…Such exceptions…”

    “…make for irrational public policy.”

    I’d argue that the same rule of thumb holds true at the smaller, more local level, as well. A certain large athletic facility, currently bearing the name of a financial institution, comes readily to mind. Nor is this sort of thing limited to the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, or any particular geographic area. All over the country, municipalities, counties, states, etc., vie with each other for a business/employer thought to be especially valuable by offering similar kinds of sweetheart deals, ignoring environmental concerns, subsidizing jobs to an extent that the public would never accept if similar levels of subsidy were proposed for, say, the poor, granting tax exemptions that provide the business/employer with what is essentially a free ride, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    Next time your free-market capitalist uncle or neighbor starts weighing in on the benefits of doing away with government regulation or some other Chamber of Commerce shibboleth, remind them that an awful lot of their comfortable way of life is dependent upon those regulations, and that business, especially of the large, corporate variety, often (in private) doesn’t want the “free market” so revered by people who like to call themselves conservative. They prefer to be subsidized at taxpayer expense because it enhances their bottom line.

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