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Officials put final touches on Minnesota’s bid for Amazon HQ

Plus: Minneapolis vigil honors dead and missing in Mogadishu; Minnesota Zoo announces death of oldest male snow monkey in North America; Dayton signs off on a federal waiver for health care reinsurance program; and more.

REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

It’s nigh on to deadline time. Erin Golden of the Strib writes, “Economic development officials are putting the final touches on Minnesota’s pitch to secure a new headquarters, just days before the Seattle-based online retailer’s deadline for proposals. Gov. Mark Dayton met Monday afternoon with Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Director Shawntera Hardy and Greater MSP CEO Michael Langley to review the state’s proposal in advance of Amazon’s Thursday deadline. The state declined to release the proposal or any of its details, and Greater MSP did not offer any further details Monday.”

At MPR, Tim Pugmire says,A longtime critic of government subsidies for businesses remains concerned about Minnesota’s involvement in the Amazon sweepstakes. Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said he doesn’t want to help one large, successful company at the expense of others. Marty said Minnesota’s bid should include his proposal to switch the state to a universal health care system. He said that kind of change could save Amazon more money than tax breaks and also help every other business in Minnesota. Marty said he’s heard from several small business owners who share his concern.”

Sadly, we won’t be able to give them Nikko the snow monkey. Says Karen Zamora in the Strib, “Nikko, the oldest male snow monkey in North America, died Sunday, Minnesota Zoo officials said. He was 34. Nikko was born in September 1983 at the Parc Safari, a zoo in Quebec, Canada. He was transferred to a facility at the University of California, Davis, then lived at the Indianapolis Zoo and the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kan., before being moved to Minnesota in 2001.”

Vigil. MPR’s Matt Sepic writes: “Dozens of people attended a vigil to honor the dead and missing in Mogadishu Monday night in Minneapolis, after a terrorist attack Saturday killed more than 300 people in Mogadishu’s central business district. Another 400 are injured and scores more missing. Members of the Twin Cities Somali-American community called the truck bombing in Mogadishu on Saturday ‘Somalia’s 9/11,’ and said it is a major setback in the country’s recovery from decades of civil war.”

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I’ve got three more for them. Says Shannon Prather in the Strib, “Minnesotans donated a record-shattering 9,000 used bicycles to the nonprofit Free Bikes 4 Kidz, nearly doubling their previous world record in one busy morning of giving. ‘There will be many kids with a surprise bike under their tree this Christmas’, said Terry Esau, founder of Free Bikes for Kids. Donors dropped off the bikes at more than 50 Allina Health locations during a four-hour window on Oct. 7. The overwhelming response broke the Minnesota-based charity’s previous record of 5,512 bikes, collected in one day in 2015 and listed with Guinness World Records.”

A locally-produced Harvey Weinstein commentary, in the Strib, from Mary Nicklawske, of White Bear Lake says, “Harvey did not do this on his own. Every Harvey has other men and women willing to look the other way, to support him, to take his money, to bow down to him because he is influential, important, rich or just because he is a man. It has been going on for years. We are trained to think it is normal. I’m so happy that this is happening to Harvey. I am happy they are making a big deal out of it. However, I am laughing inside at how shocked the women news anchors are acting when they report it. Because, really, people, those anchor women know Harvey very well. However, they also like their jobs.”

Reinsurance is law. Says Mark Zdechlik at MPR, “Gov. Mark Dayton signed off on a federal waiver Monday allowing for Minnesota’s new health care reinsurance program. Reinsurance works like a safety net for health insurers — if an insurance company has to cover people with high medical expenses, the state will help cover part of the cost. Because of the program, non-group, individual-market health insurance rates for next year will be about 20 percent lower than they otherwise would have been, insurers say. Still, some lawmakers wanted the governor to reject the waiver because in granting it, the Trump administration cut $369 million dollars in MinnesotaCare funding.”

Houlton is a husk of its former self. For City Pages, Cory Zurowski writes, “Houlton has become a pretty lonesome place since August. It has the new St. Croix River Crossing bridge to thank. The structure carries four lanes of traffic, connecting Oak Park Heights and St. Joseph, Wisconsin. It was built to replace the outdated and deteriorating Lift Bridge. … Prior to the new bridge, [B&L Liquor owner Al] Severson isn’t reserving judgment. He could count on sales in the $400 to $600 range by late morning every day. Now he’s lucky if the cash register rings like that for an entire 12-hour shift. Of those dozens of hardcore customers, Severson hasn’t seen one of them in two months. ‘Now it’s too far to drive for them to get their morning hit,’ he says. ‘They wait until 11 o’clock and go to places on the Minnesota side. Our business has dropped overall by 80 percent.’”