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Lake Elmo missing out on millions to clean up water pollution

Plus: search for next U president down to three candidates; entrances to state Capitol get new look; Minnesota officials want additional passenger service to Chicago; and more.

Lake Elmo Mayor Mike Pearson
Lake Elmo Mayor Mike Pearson
MinnPost file photo by Craig Lassig

In the Pioneer Press, Bob Shaw reports, “Lake Elmo has been a player in a billion-dollar game of pollution poker. And it’s losing. The other players at the table — Lake Elmo’s neighbors — have received tens of millions of dollars from 3M, which manufactured the pollutant found in the cities’ drinking water. Those cities are expected to get hundreds of millions more from a lawsuit settled in February. But it looks as though Lake Elmo will be getting approximately nothing. ‘We were left by the wayside,’ said city administrator Kristina Handt. ‘We obviously do not think we have been treated fairly.’ The city’s water problems are at least as severe as anyone else’s.”

The PiPress’ Josh Verges writes: “The University of Minnesota Board of Regents next week will discuss three unnamed candidates to replace Eric Kaler as president. The special meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday will be public, but regents ‘will discuss individual candidates in ways that de-identify them (e.g., candidate 1, 2, 3),’ the U said in a news release. The board is expected to choose one or more finalists to participate in public forums and a final interview with the board.”

MPR’s Brian Bakst reports, “The main entrances to Minnesota’s state Capitol get a new look starting this week. The grand staircases leading into the 113-year-old building will be upgraded to provide a safety feature some lawmakers say should have come a long time ago. New bronze guardrails are being installed toward the top of the front stairs and the entrances on the north, east and west sides. They will replace temporary barriers meant to discourage people from perching on overhangs. … The $675,000 expense will come out of a Capitol restoration account, according to Department of Administration estimates.”

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The Star Tribune’s James Walsh writes: “To strangers, to those who didn’t grow up on St. Paul’s Rice Street or who didn’t work or live nearby, Mike Hartzell was a bearded man in a dirty orange coat who slept under a pile of blankets in front of a changing array of storefronts. But to longtime residents, ‘Bones’ was Rice Street. … On Sunday, Rice Street lost an icon. Hartzell, 71, died at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center after suffering from pneumonia and cancer, said his sister Claudine Hartzell.”

Also in the PiPress, Ryan Faircloth writes, “Plans for a second daily passenger train from St. Paul to Chicago could chug forward with Democrats in control of the House and the governor’s office. Will talks for a high-speed service also be revived? Gov.-elect Tim Walz is on board. He says passenger-rail expansion could help accommodate a growing population and reduce carbon emissions. … But a high-speed rail connecting the Twin Cities to Milwaukee and Chicago would require a lot of buy-in. The project, which could cost close to $1 billion, would be split between the three states and matching federal grants. For now, rail advocates say, a second passenger train from St. Paul to Chicago is more within reach.”

Over in Wisconsin, we have this story from the AP. “Democrats in Wisconsin girded for a fight and encouraged voters to speak out as Republicans prepared to move ahead quickly this week with a highly unusual and sweeping lame-duck session to pass a series of proposals that would weaken both Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. The bills up for a public hearing and committee vote Monday, setting the stage for legislative action Tuesday, would move the 2020 presidential primary to help a conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, restrict early voting in way a federal court already disallowed and give the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to sidestep Kaul in legal fights.”

KSTP-TV reports: “Long before he was president, George H.W. Bush spent some time in Minnesota. During World War ll, Bush trained as a fighter pilot at the Naval Air Station in Minneapolis next to the airport. A plane Bush flew in 1943 is on display at the Wings of the North Air Museum in Eden Prairie. The plane is even autographed by the Navy veteran.”

This from Star Tribune, sports columnist Jim Souhan writes: “The Vikings have not beaten a team with a winning record this season, and the team against which they are 1-0-1 this season — Green Bay — just fired its coach. The Vikings are 6-5-1 with four games remaining and their spotty play on Sunday provided another reminder that we have little evidence, apart from preseason prognostications, that they are a good team.”

MPR reports: “The University of Minnesota football team will travel to a familiar destination for its postseason bowl game — but they’ll face an unfamiliar opponent. The Gophers learned Sunday that they’ll take on Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 26. … It’s the Gophers’ second trip to the Quick Lane Bowl; they beat Central Michigan in the 2015 game. But Minnesota has never before faced Georgia Tech.”