Walz names five picks for state agencies

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Left to right: Jennifer Ho, commissioner of Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Margaret Anderson Kelliher, commissioner of Department of Transportation; Alice Roberts-Davis, commissioner of Department of Administration; Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan; Nora Slawik, Metropolitan Council chair; Myron Frans, commissioner Department of Management and Budget; and Gov.-elect Tim Walz.

At MPR, Brian Bakst reports, “Gov.-elect Tim Walz began building his new administration Tuesday with the announcement of five picks to head state agencies. … Veteran agency leader Myron Frans will provide some continuity when Walz takes office next month. Frans will remain as Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner … . Alice Roberts-Davis will get a promotion to Department of Administration commissioner …. Former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis will run the Department of Transportation.”

Speaking of MAK, at the Pioneer Press, Dave Orrick writes, “Gov.-elect Tim Walz may have made his first tactical maneuver in his ambition to increase the state’s gas tax Tuesday when he named Margaret Anderson Kelliher as his transportation commissioner. … Bolstered by his victory of more than 11 points over Republican Jeff Johnson, who opposed raising the idea, Walz said he’d make the gas tax one of his top priorities when he takes office next month. He has not said how much the tax hike should be but has emphasized it should be dedicated toward roads and bridges.”

At MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar writes, “State environmental regulators dealt a blow to the owners of a sow farm proposed for Fillmore County Tuesday when they denied a permit required to allow the farm project to move forward. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner John Linc Stine announced that his agency would not allow the 4,800-head swine farrowing facility planned to be built near Newburg Township, Minn., to move forward, saying ‘it’s time to take a more comprehensive look’ at groundwater contamination in southeastern Minnesota. The operation, proposed by Catalpa LLC …  would generate an estimated 7.3 million gallons of liquid manure annually.”

The Star Tribune’s Libor Jany writes: “The man believed to have stabbed a young woman to death in south Minneapolis 27 years ago was arrested Tuesday, following a new look at DNA and physical evidence. Police say the suspect, 56, was arrested in South St. Paul on suspicion of murder in the 1991 death of Belinda Thompson, 20, of Minneapolis. … News of the arrest came on the eve of the 27th anniversary of Thompson’s death. She was found stabbed to death on Dec. 19, 1991, in the bedroom of her apartment in the 2800 block of Grand Avenue.”

At streets.mn, Bill Lindeke writes, “Check out this new mapping project from Quartz, showing the average life expectancy for every zip code in the US. The differences in life expectancy are striking, and nowhere more so than right in Saint Paul. The Quartz team found that Saint Paul’s East Rondo/Cathedral Hill area had one of the highest life expectancy gaps anywhere in the country. You can see it for yourself here, where the life expectancy of East Rondo is 65 while next-door Summit Hill is 86.”

Stribber Christopher Snowbeck reports, “Attorney General Lori Swanson is reminding lawmakers that a moratorium blocking nonprofit health plans from becoming for-profit companies is set to expire next year, and therefore requires follow-on legislation. Swanson is highlighting the issue in a letter to Gov.-elect Tim Walz and legislative leaders that was obtained by the Star Tribune. The attorney general, who is leaving office next year, pushed for the current moratorium on for-profit conversions following 2017 legislation that struck down a 40-year ban on for-profit HMOs in Minnesota.”

Also, Miguel Otarola of the Strib reports, “The views from the observation deck of the Witch’s Hat, a historic water tower in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park neighborhood, are as precious as they are rare. The 110-foot tower offers a panoramic view of the Twin Cities, but visitors are able to climb up to the deck only once a year, during a school fundraiser near Memorial Day. Now a neighborhood group is alleging that a planned 14-story condominium along University Avenue will ruin that view. Last week, it sued the developers of the project in an attempt to stop construction.”

Says Nick Woltman in the PiPress, “A Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with driving while intoxicated. Amanda Rose Skelly, 26, of Maplewood was arrested early Monday morning in White Bear Lake after a breath test during a traffic stop showed she had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.21, according to charges filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court. The legal limit in Minnesota is 0.08.”

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