MPR News Update

Minneapolis gets a January soaking; St. Paul imagines a great city

by John Wanamaker, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio

Jan 4, 2013

Today on the MPR News Update: Minneapolis dries out from a messy water main break, a GOP lawmaker resigns to be a lobbyist, St. Paul boosters imagine a great city without Macy's, the DNR likes a plan designed to keep Asian carp out of the state's waterways, and a nationwide child porn crackdown has a Minnesota link.

MOPPING UP: Crews were still on the scene Friday morning of a water main break in downtown Minneapolis that flooded a big swath of streets and parking around Hennepin and 2nd Street North. Along with a marooned piece of heavy equipment, a number of factors are extending the repair time. A major natural gas transmission line is very near the damaged water main, and crews were reluctant to move the backhoe for fear of causing a gas leak.

JOBS GROWTH: Minnesota is poised for stronger employment growth in 2013, according to a forecast from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retail and manufacturing employers expect the largest increases in employment at their companies. Meanwhile, robust hiring in manufacturing and construction fueled US December job gains.

TARGET SALES: On the retail front, the news was less welcome for Target Corp., where sales last month fell a bit short of analysts' expectations. The retailer says fourth-quarter earnings will meet or possibly beat the low end of a prior forecast. Nationally, major retailers including Costco, Gap and Nordstrom reported better-than-expected revenue in December.

GOTTWALT GOES: Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, is resigning from the Minnesota Legislature. The announcement comes after Gottwalt took a lobbying job with the Center for Diagnostic Imaging of St. Louis Park. Gottwalt had planned to lobby in states other than Minnesota to ensure there was no conflict of interest but he said that the new job would prevent him from fully serving his constituents.

RURAL RELEVANCE: A new study today from the nonprofit Center for Rural Policy and Development is warning that rural Minnesota is losing its influence at the State Capitol. The research points out that fewer Minnesotans have any ties to rural life or an understanding of the rural economy that urban areas rely on.

BUBBLE BARRIER: Officials at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say they have decided on a way to keep invasive Asian carp from traveling up the Mississippi River, and it isn't an electric barrier. Instead, it's technology that combines bubbles, lights and noise to deflect the fish.

CAPITOL OPTIMISM: When the 113th Congress officially convened, the big question on the minds of many Democrats and Republicans was whether the new Congress will be more productive than the last one -- two tumultuous years that culminated in the last-minute efforts to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the automatic tax increases and dramatic spending cuts Congress had set in motion for early in the year. Still, members of Minnesota's delegation expressed hope that the two parties could work together in the next two years to accomplish significant goals.

CHILD PORN RING CRACKED: Federal authorities in Washington D.C. on Thursday announced the results of an international crackdown on predators who own, trade and produce child pornography. "Operation Sunflower," led by Homeland Security Investigations, resulted in the arrests of 245 people and the rescue of 123 children, most of them in the United States. Investigators used vacation photos to crack a case in Minnesota, which led to the arrest of an Illinois woman who's now serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR ST. PAUL? Business leaders admit that the official news of Macy's closing was like a kick to the gut. They saw it coming, but it still hurt. Yet Mayor Chris Coleman is quick to put the closure in perspective. For all the fond memories longtime residents have of shopping at downtown department stores, that's not the future, he said. "Waxing nostalgic of how downtown St. Paul used to be in 1940 is missing the point of what downtown St. Paul is going to look like in 2020."

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