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Timberwolves fire head coach Tom Thibodeau

Plus: Minnesota still failing to meet goals aimed at addressing climate change; Five candidates running in special election for Minnesota Senate seat; pedestrian fatalities in east metro prompt warnings from officials; and more.

Former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau
Former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig

At the PiPress, Jace Frederick reports, “The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired Tom Thibodeau, team owner Glen Taylor confirmed to the Pioneer Press. Ryan Saunders will serve as the interim coach. The timing of the move is surprising, given the Wolves are in the middle of a playoff race and fresh off a pair of home wins. The Wolves had played somewhat better after trading disgruntled star Jimmy Butler, the man Thibodeau dealt for to change the direction of the franchise.”

For the Star Tribune, Chris Hine adds, “Taylor said General Manager Scott Layden informed Thibodeau of the decision shortly after the Wolves’ 108-86 victory over the Lakers. ‘I said let’s let it go and see how things worked and I think now, we’ve gone up through halfway through the season and I don’t think we’re where we thought we would be or where we think we should be,’ Taylor said. ‘I’m just looking at the results. The results are that I don’t think we should’ve lost against Phoenix or Detroit or New Orleans or Atlanta. Maybe one of those games. We just lost against a bunch of teams that we’re a better team.’”

Says a Strib story by Neal St. Anthony and Anthony Lonetree, “The turbulent year in the stock market did not spare Minnesota’s public companies. The December swoon helped put more than half underwater for 2018. … The financial markets had signaled an economic slowdown since summer. But higher earnings projections for next year and the hum of Main Street business had placated investors who believed things would continue to be rosy. Now some forecasters predict … that the U.S. actually may move to recession this year.”

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In the West Central Tribune, Tom Cherveny writes, “Two telling examples of Minnesota’s changing energy landscape could be seen in the Granite Falls area this autumn. Crews working for Xcel Energy removed the exterior coal loading system at the shuttered Minnesota Valley electric generation plant on the edge of Granite Falls. … At the very same time, crews for Fagen Inc., of Granite Falls, erected 18 wind turbines on a 6,150-acre footprint immediately north of the community near the Minnesota River Valley bluff. The Palmer’s Creek Wind Farm was completed and officially became commercial on Dec. 30. The new wind farm — one of the largest in this region — is now operating with a capacity of 44.6 megawatts.”

For MPR, Andrew Krueger  reports: “Five candidates have now filed to run in a special election for the Minnesota Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tony Lourey. Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, is resigning to lead the Department of Human Services in the Gov. Tim Walz administration. The general election for the eastern Minnesota seat will take place Feb. 5. A primary — and that appears likely, with two Democrats and two Republicans declaring their candidacies so far — will take place Jan. 22.”

Says Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR, “Minnesota is still failing to meet its goals aimed at addressing climate change, and it’s transportation and agriculture — not coal — that are holding us back, according to a biennial emissions report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released this week. … While the state still relies heavily on coal, a quarter of the state’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, and that percentage will go up in future years as utilities retire more coal plants. Agriculture emissions — both from fertilizing row crops and raising livestock — are also significant.”

Says Kristi BelCamino of the PiPress, “A rash of east metro crashes involving vehicles striking pedestrians — including four fatalities — has prompted warnings from police officials for both drivers and pedestrians to be even more aware of their surroundings that normal. It began Thursday night when a man and woman crossing Larpenteur Avenue in Roseville were struck and killed. The next night, Friday, two St. Paul women were crossing McKnight Street when they were struck. One woman died and the other was seriously injured. Then, on Saturday night, a 55-year-old woman was out walking near her home when a hit-and-run driver struck her and fled.”

Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt of the Strib say, “Affordable health insurance has been the difference between having a life and just scraping by for Bruce Ario, a Minneapolis man with schizophrenia and diabetes. A low-income worker who supervises mailrooms for two federal agencies, he was spending $1,000 a month for medical coverage before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Today he pays $300. … Like Ario, thousands of other Minnesotans who have benefited from the law’s far-reaching provisions found the ruling a reminder that, even eight years later, its survival is not something to be taken for granted.”