What happened on that plane? Nobody knows, but the black box may tell. Pilots on Northwest Flight 188 say they were involved in a heated policy argument … that apparently distracted them so much that they didn’t see city lights below them, didn’t hear radio calls from Denver and Minneapolis, and completely lost track of the passage of time, as the plane flew over Minneapolis and continued for 100 miles off course into Wisconsin on Wednesday evening. Not everyone is buying the “heated argument” explanation, with some suspecting the pilots fell asleep. Continue reading
Tag Archives: central corridor
Running out of unemployment benefits With the average time between losing one job and finding the next rising, about a thousand Minnesotans are falling off the cliff every week — running out of unemployment benefits. Continue reading
Metro Gang Strike Force: Abuse, theft, racism Legislators heard testimony on criminal activity by some Metro Gang Strike Force officers yesterday, with investigators describing a pattern of abuse of citizen rights, unjustified seizure of property, and taking seized property for private use. The investigative reports and testimony described a pattern of seizure of cash from anyone carrying large amounts of money when stopped by MGSF officers and noted that “these encounters almost always involved a person of color.”
Even with the testimony offered, Ruben Rosario writes, the committee did not hear about some of the more troubling aspects of MGSF behavior: the pursuit of immigrants with no gang or criminal ties, just because of their brown skin. MGSF instructed Minneapolis impound lot employees to call them when “Mexicans” came to claim their cars, and 29-year-old Dagoberto Rodriguez-Cardona was among their victims. The MGSF cops came to the impound lot on July 31, 2008, searched and questioned the two “Mexican” families there, seized more than $4,000 from Rodriguez-Cardona, and searched the cars of the two families:
No drugs were found.
None of those bagged that night had gang ties. Rodriguez-Cardona had no arrests, not even a parking ticket. Other than an acknowledgment that a little more than $4,000 was seized, Luger’s report found minimal information on the encounter in strike force records. No crime was alleged or prosecuted against those arrested and held in custody that night.
Yet, police contacted federal immigration officials in violation of a Minneapolis ordinance that prohibits officers from doing so unless a crime has been committed.
Now Rodriguez-Cardona faces deportation, and is suing to get his money back, showing what his attorney calls “raw courage” in coming forward.
The legislators heard from investigators yesterday. They heard about seizure of a wood chipper and stump grinder, and wondered how these could possibly have been thought to be involved in gang activity. They heard about seizures of flat screen TVs and sloppy accounting methods, and the need to change state seizure laws — never mind that many of the seizures seemed to be in blatant disregard of existing laws. The testimony that they did hear was damning, but they did not hear from victims. Rosario writes:
But the one thing lacking in Wednesday’s legislative hearing was testimony of someone like Rodriguez-Cardona. He would have driven home the human experience of someone placed in handcuffs in front of a sobbing relative and stripped of money earned by the sweat of his brow. Throw in the fact that his alleged muggers were officers of the law.
For additional accounts of yesterday’s hearing, see Metro Gang Strike Force: “Bad actions overshadow the good actions” in the TC Daily Planet, Metro Gang Strike Force hearing: Plenty of blame, but no answers in the Pioneer Press, Forfeiture law questioned after gang force misuse in the Star Tribune.
Big win for Central Corridor communities? The City of St. Paul will pay for an LRT station between Snelling and Rice Street under a tentative agreement reached Wednesday, reports the Pioneer Press:
St. Paul will put up $5.2 million for a new station — probably at the intersection of Western, Victoria or Hamline, according to a vote by the Central Corridor Management Committee.
In exchange, the Metropolitan Council will purchase an $8 million downtown property at East Fourth and Cedar streets, which would allow trains to make an easier turn. A prior agreement required St. Paul to foot the bill. …
The vote also prioritized the construction of two more east metro stations using money from a capital reserve built into the project — provided all goes well.
That’s huge for the community about to be disrupted by Central Corridor construction, as previous plans called for the trains to zoom along with stops a mile or more apart in low-income areas along the eastern part of the University Avenue line, though stops are closer together in other areas. However, the change still offers little to University Avenue small businesses. MPR reports:
A group of business owners met today to discuss their ongoing concerns. They say their voices aren’t being heard.
Lysa Bui, who owns the Saigon restaurant, says her business and many others won’t be able to survive the four-year construction project.
Central Corridor spokesperson Laura Baenen responded to business concerns by saying, “There’s absolutely no money in the project budget for handouts,” but she said that limited funds are available for “mitigation,” such as signage to tell customers where to look for parking, and free business consulting to offer advice to business owners.
News Day: Fighting foreclosures / Central Corridor money / Unemployment claims rise / Lies, damn lies and health care
A second foreclosed homeowner, Linda Rorenberg of Robbinsdale, said she was inspired by Williams’s example and would resist eviction, reports MPR:
“We’re both 60 years old. We’re both in family-owned houses,” Norenberg said Wednesday. “I want to stay here. I love it here. I love the neighborhood.” …
Norenberg’s house has been in her family for 65 years. She said her father built the home in 1944, and she bought in 1977 after he died.
Foreclosures dropped slightly in Minnesota in the first half of the year, according to a report by the Minnesota Homeownership Council, reports MPR. At the same time, however, the number of homeowners more than 60 days in default increased. In 2008, Minnesota had a record high 26,000+ foreclosures. Nationally, foreclosures rose by 7 percent in July. One of the explanations for the decline during the first six months of the year was a partial, voluntary moratorium during the first quarter.
Central Corridor: New money An inflation adjustment will send about $16 million more in federal funds to the Central Corridorreports MPR, but Met Council head Peter Bell says the money will not be used to add stations on University Avenue. Met Council officials had previously said that if they got additional money, it would go to meet community demands for adding stations at Hamline, Victoria or Western avenues as they cross the University avenue route in St. Paul.
From somewhere, in spite of a budget shortfall, St. Paul has found a million dollars for parking alleviation along the Central Corridor, according to MPR. The city council was slated to approve a plan that would allow small businesses to apply for up to $25,000 in forgivable loans to improve their off-street parking, or even more if they are sharing offstreet parking with neighbors.
“We have so many small businesses on University Avenue who rely not on big parking lots, but sort of need one spot right in front for that customer who comes out at 1 o’clock on a Tuesday to park and walk into their store,” [Council member Melvin] Carter said.
The Met Council has consistently said it has no money for parking alleviation on University Avenue, where the Central Corridor will eliminate 85 percent of all on-street parking. Some of the new city money could also be used for alley repaving.
Unemployment claims up The Department of Labor reported a slight increase in unemployment claims today. NPR’s Planet Money explains what that’s a problem:
New claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to 558,000, from 554,000 the week before, the Department of Labor reports. Heading into Thursday morning’s report, analysts expected new claims to drop to 545,000. They had fallen for six straight weeks.
Other economic news was also bad. AP reported an overall 0.1 percent decline in retail sales. Not much, but retail sales had been expected to rise by 0.7 percent. Instead, even the major bump given by the billion-dollar Cash for Clunkers program couldn’t pull retail sales out of the red.
Worried? I am, but I’m not an economist. NPR reports that the Federal Reserve says the economy is stabilizing, and other experts agree:
A growing number of economists now say they think the recession is finally over — by that they mean the economy is starting to grow again.
Until growth translates into jobs, it’s not a recovery in my books.
Lies, damn lies and the health care “debate” The rabid anti-health care reform forces don’t really give a damn about truth. Case in point: the Investor’s Business Daily charge that Stephen Hawking would have died under a British-style national health care system, because national health care devalues the handicapped and the elderly. Hawking, of course, is British, a point that escaped the notice of IBD. The Guardian debunks:
The danger, says the Investor’s Business Daily, is that [Obama] borrows too much from the UK. “The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof, are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror script … People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”
We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.” Something here is worthless. And it’s not him.
Robert Reich prescribes more information and more rationality in the debate. He says that the administration “needs to be very specific about two things in particular: (1) Who will pay? and (2) Why the public option is so important — and why it’s not a Trojan Horse to a government takeover.”
I’d like to believe that more information would make a difference, but it’s transparently obvious that the rabid right opinion leaders don’t really give a damn about facts. When confronted with the facts on Stephen Hawking, IBD excised that reference, but continued to insist that national health care will terrorize grandma. The objective of Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Investor’s Business Daily, et al is not informing the public, but stirring up fear and hatred. Unfortunately for the country, they succeed all too well.
Pakistan At least 70 people are dead and scores of homes destroyed in Wednesday’s intense battle between Taliban fighters and a local warlord’s forces in the mountainous south Waziristan village of Sura Ghar, reports AP. The government sent in war planes in support of the local warlord, Turkistan Bitani, when an estimated 300 Taliban forces attacked his village. This is the region where U.S. and Pakistani forces believe that a missile strike an a residential compound killed Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on August 5, while Taliban commanders say he is still alive and that the missile strike killed civilians, including one of his wives and children.
Fletcher and the Force “Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher repeatedly tried to prevent a state investigation into the financial operations of the Metro Gang Strike Force, over which his office has fiscal oversight, according to officials directly involved in the state probe that led to the sudden shutdown last week of the unit’s activities,” reports the Star Tribune. The article also says Fletcher blamed his friend Ron Ryan for mishandling cash, denied that his office had oversight responsibility, and engaged in “shouting matches” with Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion, objecting to the state audit.
Movers and shakers on the move Lois Quam is leaving Piper Jaffray & Co. after less than two years to start a , reports the Strib. Quam plans to start a business incubator for start-ups in health care and green technology, building on connections with Norway and its clean-energy technology. Before heading up alternative investments at Piper Jaffray, Quam was a senior UnitedHealth Group exec.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s Lake Harriet area home is up for sale, reports the Minnesota Independent, with an asking price of $750,000. According to Rybak’s communications director Jeremy Hanson, it’s a case of “empty-nest downsizing.” Continue reading
March 3: More news — Coleman asks for new election / Cut, cut, cut / Medicare paying off insurance companies / City Council putting brakes on Central Corridor plans? / Lock ’em up / MN Job Watch
MN budget deficit: better news MPR reports that the budget projections due out later this morning will show good news for Minnesotans, with federal stimulus money riding to the rescue. Without the federal aid, the two-year deficit was projected to grow to $6.4 billion, but with the aid, it will shrink to $4.57 billion (from the previously-projected $4.8 billion.) That’s about the only good news, with unemployment up, tax revenues down, and the Guv stlll insisting on balancing the budget by slashing LGA and other state expenditures and refusing to consider tax increases.