NEWS DAY | Gang database task force / Still no unemployment benefit extension / New Faces in St. Paul

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has named a 20-member panel to study the use of gang databases reports Politics in Minnesota. The panel includes representatives from a wide range of perspectives, including ACLU, NAACP and police organizations. The gang databases have been widely criticized because of lack of transparency and due process. Criteria for inclusion are very broad, including being in the company of a gang member, and there’s no way for juveniles or young adults to find out whether they are included in the two Minnesota databases – or to get their names removed.

Congress is still refusing to extend unemployment benefits, and that’s going to put a big-time hurt on Minnesotans, reports the Star Tribune.

Until now, many have qualified for up to 47 weeks of the federal emergency unemployment benefits, which kick in only after 26 weeks of regular state-paid unemployment insurance payments. Without a new federal extension, however, unemployment checks will come mostly from the state programs that stop after 26 weeks. …

With no federal extension, there “will be a couple million people nationwide” who exhaust benefits by the end of July, said Lee Nelson, chief attorney for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

That will hurt more than the unemployed, writes Senta Knuth in the Hindsight blog:

Right now unemployment benefits are one of the mechanisms keeping the economy afloat. Remember it’s a jobless recovery.  So if people aren’t collecting unemployment insurance, fewer of them will be buying necessary goods, like food.  Stimulus spending on extended unemployment insurance actually generates an estimated $1.61 in economic activity per dollar spent.

With new Faces in downtown, St. Paul remains a great place to eat and drink. Faces in St. Paul (651-209-7776) opens Monday, June 28. (The PiPress listed an earlier date, but I got the inside word on the opening date because my daughter’s on staff.) Even if I didn’t have that connection, I’d plan on sampling what sounds like a great menu at David Fhima’s latest venue, located at 380 Jackson Street, facing lovely Mears Park.

Just a couple of blocks away, Black Dog Café and Wine Bar remains one of my favorite, laid-back coffee shops. Sara Remke and crew also offer wine, beer, pizza and other food, along with great local, live music.

In July, Heartland Restaurant will move in across the street from the St. Paul Farmers’ Market. These are just a few of the great places in downtown St. Paul – check out the Pioneer Press article for more. Then there are the neighborhood venues – from Ngon Bistro and Cheng Heng and Caffe Biaggio on University Avenue to … well, more than I can possibly list here.

Seward Co-op is running a cheesy promo in Minneapolis, tying cheese sales to World Cup countries. The press release quoted Seward Cheese Manager (and soccer fan) Scott Heard, who is running a sale on cheese from 12 of the competing countries:

From a cheese perspective, I was hoping for maybe an Italy versus France type of final. It’s sad to see some of these great cheese countries melt down as the tournament moves into the next round.

Sad for cheese aficionados, too, as cheeses stay on sale only until the corresponding country is eliminated.

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