When facts take a licking, the latest Vikings stadium video, the heart of a racer, dreams denied and dreams fulfilled, and Oklahoma's seismic mystery.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided with New Hampshire in a fight a Minnesota man is having with the state of New Hampshire over a copper plate used to print the bonds, which New Hampshire printed to fund the Revolutionary War.
Gary Lea bought the plate (a picture of it is available at the Winona Daily News) at an estate sale in Spring Valley, but just before he was going to sell it at an auction -- he was asking a minimum of $50,000 -- the state of New Hampshire claimed to be the rightful owner because it claims it paid John Ward Gilman to make the plate in 1775. Nobody seems to know how it ended up in Minnesota, and there's a dispute over which states' courts will figure it out.
Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a Fillmore County (Minnesota) judge who ruled last March that Minnesota courts had jurisdiction to decide the rightful owner of the plate. The Court of Appeals cited a Supreme Court case that would appear to undercut Minnesota's jurisdiction in the case, merely because the man who owns the plate lives here and the plate is currently stored here.
That could pave the way for New Hampshire courts to decide who owns its history, or at least, a small part of its history.
The issue has even made the editorial pages of New Hampshire's Concord Monitor, which called for the plate to be returned.
The collector did nothing wrong, and his desire to profit from his find is understandable. But one way or another, the plate must come home. A state that can't afford to care for its needy certainly can't spend a five- or six-figure sum on a piece of its history. But the public, aided perhaps by a modern history-loving patriot of means, can. A fund should be created, perhaps under the state historical society or division of charitable trusts, to accept contributions to purchase the plate. A fund drive should be held. If the money can't be raised, or if the seller is unreasonable, then by all means, the state should go to court.
Though he has been unable so far to locate records that prove it, former state archivist Frank Mevers is likely correct that the plate was removed from the vault in the State House. Records do, however, show that a former state representative and then-head of the New Hampshire Hospital for the Insane loaned the plate to a Boston doctor and currency collector who used it in the mid-19th century to print commemorative copies of the notes used to fund the War of Independence. So it's more likely that the plate was not stolen, but borrowed, not returned and then forgotten.
When you talk to Mitch Roldan, it's tempting to divide his story in two, the part in which he was a gang member and the part in which he wasn't. "I'm very much the same person," he said, a testament to the complexities of his life and his role spanning his past and his present.
Reader Joseph Mitchell suggested the Minneapolis man for News Cut's The People You Should Know series. "His story is incredible and still ongoing," he wrote. He was right.
Roldan is the gang prevention coordinator for Centro Cultural Chicano. He acknowledges he was in a gang at one time, but doesn't want to dwell on it. "People will do anything to put food on the table," he said.
When his best friend was killed in a car accident, his uncle vowed to "help you make the right decisions." He got a job working with young people at Centro, but when his boss found out about his gang past, he was fired and moved to Houston. But the kids wouldn't let him stay. "I don't know what you did to these kids," his former boss said to him in a phone call, "but I've got a petition here from 100 of them demanding you come back, and these kids have never liked anybody." He came back.
What he did to the kids, from what I could tell, is understand them. "You take 180,000 Latino males," he said, citing national statistics, "and only 28,000 will graduate from high school. Only about 1 percent will go to college. Sixty-five to 70,000 will end up in prison. People think the difference between 12th grade in high school and college is like going from the 12th to the 13th or 14th grade," he said. "We find that it's more like going from the 12th to the 20th."
When we talked last week, he was scheduled to visit with a young man at an area school. "He doesn't want to leave the gang, and I'm not going to tell him to," he said. Instead he planned to listen and offer some ideas. The chances are good that the kid already knows who Mitch Roldan is, and he already knows "I don't snitch," he added.
Gangs, he says, give kids an identity. "When someone says to you, 'you're a Latin King,' it's often the first time they've been recognized for an achievement."
He says he doesn't do as much work with gangs as he once did. It's dangerous work and he's looking for ways to change a system. He can't do that, he says, without "credentials." He seems frustrated that for as much work as he does with Centro, and Minneapolis schools, and anti-tobacco programs he runs on Saturdays, and research work he does at the University of Minnesota, and his position on Minneapolis' Latino Advisory Committee, until he gets a college degree, he won't be able to do much more to change a system that needs changing. He's taking classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and hopes to transfer into the University of Minnesota.
"There's a lack of honesty in this system," he said. "I want to bring the honesty back."
He has a music career he's trying to develop, too, although he says he keeps it and his work with young people separate. Some of his work is dark and incompatible with the inspiration he's trying to give to young people.
Do you know of someone we all should meet? Who's the most interesting person you know? Submit their name and tell me why.
Brandon Regan, 25, of Romeoville, Illinois, is dying.
His family and friends have been holding fundraisers recently to help fund his final wish -- to see Garth Brooks in concert and possibly sing "Thunder Rolls" on stage with him.
They didn't raise enough -- it would have cost about $4,000 more -- so now the family has to decide whether to keep trying or just use the money for funeral expenses, the Sun Times reports.
"We figured we should use our heads and make sure his final arrangements were paid," said his father, Robert Regan of Romeoville. "But we haven't broke the news to him yet. We don't want to crush his hopes."(1 Comments)
The Minnesota Twins fired general manager Bill Smith today, and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It takes a lot of work to make a new ballpark fail at its primary mission, but that's what happened with Smith.
The new ballpark was supposed to allow the Twins to get every dime possible out of the stadium, from naming rights, to higher ticket prices, to luxury box revenue (they didn't get any at the Metrodome), and at least in theory, having all of this money to spend -- and the Twins had a lot of money to spend -- would allow the team to be competitive.
In fact, that was the buzzword in the years-long battle to get public funding. It was so common that it was considered a given that new stadiums equal on-field excellence. It always had, anyway, with the possible exception of Pittsburgh, which should never be discussed in any conversation about major league baseball..
The formula worked for one season. In 2010, the Twins, playing before a full house every game, boosted the team payroll by $32 million, and won a division title.
But even a new stadium couldn't save GM Bill Smith from the team's fortune. Smith had little choice but to give Joe Mauer a $23 million-a-year-contract, guaranteed through 2018, after handing $14 million to Justin Morneau and $11 million to Joe Nathan. If Mauer had walked after the team got its publicly financed stadium, Smith would've been roasted on a spit.
Smith couldn't possibly have foreseen getting virtually no production from almost half of his team's payroll in 2011, but he could have foreseen the collapse of the Twins bullpen after the 2010 season, when he let most of its components leave and elected not to make significant acquisitions in the off-season.
This year's injuries exposed the team's poor minor league system, the best player of which, catcher Wilson Ramos, was traded last season to the Washington Nationals for Matt Capps.
But Smith's biggest failing has been an inability to convince free agents that Minnesota should be where they want to play baseball. He not only lost the free agents the team wanted to keep (Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, for example), the Twins were unable to convince productive ones to come here. Target Field was supposed to help accomplish that. It didn't.
Two of the team's best players -- Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer -- are about to leave via free agency, but there's no indication the team is capable of doing anything significant with the $41 million dollars it's freed up in payroll. The minor league system is weak, Justin Morneau may never return to form and Joe Mauer has gone from hometown hero to the poster boy for a franchise that at one point seemed just one really nice stadium away from the upper class of the league, but is instead, again, at the bottom of the heap.
It was a mirage. No baseball stadium can counter the effects of poor baseball judgment.(9 Comments)