LSGI Again?

The City appears headed toward another lawsuit over property on Nicollet Mall

IT LOOKS LIKE Minneapolis officials have forgotten any lessons they may have learned from the LSGI fiasco of a few years back. For those who haven't been riveted to the latest feud: Two contesting developers, Opus and Ryan, want to build an office tower on the north side of Nicollet Mall at 10th Street. Opus owns development options on several choice properties there, but the city wants Ryan to build the tower because Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency want the Target store that Ryan would also build. In February, the city announced its intention to exercise its powers of eminent domain to condemn the parcels Opus had optioned and sell them to Ryan. Opus threatened to sue, and three weeks ago the MCDA announced it had reached a settlement with Opus that would give Opus a Nicollet Mall parcel on the south side of the mall that includes the Essex Building.

Then, two weeks ago, the city turned around and said it wants Opus to take a different parcel. The change has scuttled the whole deal. It seems there were already buyers for the property the city offered Opus--buyers the MCDA had known about for months. Kieran Folliard, owner of Kieran's Pub, says he's been trying to buy the Essex for the past year. He wants to open a restaurant and cabaret in the historic structure. Last Friday, when the city's settlement with Opus fell apart, MCDA officials told reporters it collapsed because they learned of Folliard's bid. But the pub owner says he's been talking to the MCDA for months about financing.

Bypassing a standing offer isn't the worst thing the MCDA did, adds Minneapolis City Council member Lisa McDonald (10th Ward). The agency never contacted the Essex Building's owners to see whether they were selling the historic property. "Who do we think we are giving away other people's property without asking them?" she snaps.

"If I were Opus," she adds, "I'd feel I was led down the primrose path twice."

BABY BUST

"REPORT: TEENAGERS dropping out, having babies more often," read a recent Star Tribune headline heralding the release of the Children's Defense Fund's Kids Count report. Problem is, it's not true. The report did show that teen births made up a growing share of total births in Minnesota between 1991 and 1995; buried in the fine print, however, were data showing that the share of teens, period, also grew, making the number all but worthless.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, teen pregnancy, teen births, and abortion are all declining--almost the opposite of what the CDF study and the news coverage it sparked suggest. Dr. Bert Hirschhorn, a researcher at the department, says statisticians in the state usually try to trade information prior to publishing studies to avoid misinterpretation. In this case, "The CDF meant to talk to us," but it never happened.

According to the CDF, its report is meant to highlight the "lasting impact [of] early childbearing on the lives and future opportunities of young mothers and their children." But the presentation of the data has caused what Donna Fishman from the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Planning calls an "unfortunate alarm." Other sources, while careful not to speak ill of the CDF, speculate that the report might prove a boost for abstinence-based sex education programs, whose proponents argue that traditional prevention methods haven't stemmed a tide of teen motherhood.

PHILLIPS CYA

LAST WEDNESDAY'S HEARING on the Phillips Housing Team audit, which was said to address allegations of financial tomfoolery ("Under Fire," 3/26), has been postponed until April 9. According to Bob Bjorklund, Minneapolis city auditor, "More work needs to be performed before the audit can be released." Bjorklund declined to elaborate, but insiders speculate that either the audit uncovered greater abuses than previously suspected or city agencies--chiefly the City Council and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency--are scrambling to cover their collective posteriors.

GARBAGE SUIT--IN OR OUT

HENNEPIN COUNTY RESI

dents have until this Thursday to take themselves out of a class-action lawsuit over garbage disposal rates. Critics note that the suit basically has taxpayers suing themselves, since any settlement would come out of county property taxes. Requests for exclusion can be directed to Solid Waste Class Action Litigation, P.O. Box 1563, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1563. Residents must include their signature, full name and address, and the date. CP

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Aside from the inevitable comparisons to Jim Jones, the highlight of last week's comet-induced mass suicide in California was the media descriptor: "quasi-religious computer programmers." We turned immediately to our online sources and searched for the phrase... zero hits. The phrase "quasi-religious" turned out to be a little more revealing. Turns out the range of what is assigned the term is rather limited. CP, of course, does not condone mass suicide.

'Servant-leader' approach focuses on community, costs

St. John Health System wants to infuse its managers and staff with the notion of "servant leadership," a quasi-religiousideal that it hopes will make the organization more competitive and more humane.

--Detroit News & Free Press, March 31, 1996

The little roadster that wooed is 5

Fans of the Mazda Miata two-seat convertible, which turns five in June 1994, are passionate about their roadsters to a point of quasi-religiousfanaticism. Miata owners from across the U.S. gathered in Indianapolis to celebrate the convertible with cachet.

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