Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Here’s the Digest.
1. The Super Bowl will shine a spotlight on Minnesota and flood the Twin Cities with visitors, but there are concerns about what will happen to homeless people in the shadow of the big event. Advocates for the homeless hope the attention around their plight will not fade after the Super Bowl has come and gone. They say homelessness is a growing problem in the Twin Cities and that homeless people are increasingly using light rail trains as shelters. (MPR News)
2. A group of Minneapolis residents filed legal action this week to prevent changing the name of Lake Calhoun to its original Dakota name of Bde Maka Ska. At the same time, legislators from Minneapolis issued a letter urging the state Department of Natural Resources commissioner to ratify the new name in order to enhance local understanding of Native American history. In November the Hennepin County Board voted to make the name change, which now must go to the DNR for approval before federal officials get the final say. The group opposing the name change, called Save Lake Calhoun, sent a “cease and desist” letter Tuesday to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr that alleged several statutory violations by the County Board. (Star Tribune)
3. In a ruling with potential implications both on the health of Minnesota’s culturally vital wild rice and on mining and other industry critical to northern Minnesota’s economy, a state administrative law judge ruled Thursday that state regulators failed to justify a proposed change to a controversial water quality standard for protecting wild rice. In her report, Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency failed to justify changing the current wild rice sulfate standard, which limits discharges of sulfates into waters where wild rice grows to 10 milligrams per liter. (MPR News)
4. A couple of Minnesota Democrats are quoted in a new report about why Democrats have lost ground in rural areas. The bottom line: members of their own party from urban areas make it hard for them to compete for the votes of rural residents. “The ‘metro-centrics’ in our party don’t know the difference between majority and minority,” Minnesota state Rep. Gene Pelowski said. “They just play to the base. They don’t care about winning elections.” The report was compiled by the leadership PAC of third-term congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who won last year in her northwest Illinois district, which Donald Trump won, too. Also from the report: “Some in the party, especially from metro areas, are not tolerant of other opinions, especially on guns and abortion,” Minnesota state Rep. Jeanne Poppe said. “It’s OK, if you’re liberal, to be intolerant.”(Politico)
5. When St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter set out to build his administration, he enlisted dozens of civic leaders to review the applicants in the spirit of transparency and community involvement. Carter and his transition team noted early on in the process that the hiring panels would make recommendations, but that final decisions would rest with him. The rapid decision-making and repositioning of longtime employees that followed surprised a few City Hall observers. Carter, who was sworn in earlier this month, chose department leaders in a few cases who had not scored highly with the hiring panels or who had not sought the job at all. The results also returned four directors to their positions. (Pioneer Press)
6. More than 15 states and cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Las Vegas, refused requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they made to try to lure Amazon’s second headquarters. Among the reasons given: Such information is a “trade secret” and disclosing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. The company’s search for a second headquarters city has triggered an unprecedented competition among governments around North America to attract a $5 billion project that promises to create 50,000 jobs. The retailing behemoth has made clear that tax breaks and grants will be a big factor in its decision. It received 238 proposals and said it will announce a decision sometime this year. Public records laws around the country vary, but when courting businesses, governments generally aren’t required to disclose tax breaks and other incentives during the negotiating phase. (AP)