Fargo taking tepid steps toward bike share

Coming soon to Fargo: 10 docking stations for transitized bicycles, courtesy of a public-private partnership group.  It seems the system is heavily modelled on bixi-based systems like Twin Cities Nice Ride; among other things, Fargo’s tiny network also feels it needs to charge $6 a day, $30 a month, or $75 a year.  Perhaps in the future the cities of West/Fargo/Moorhead could chip in a bit to make it more affordable.

As the program has been launched mainly with NDSU student government dollars, students will bike free; no word yet on whether MSUM or Concordia students are out in the cold, but visiting UND students will clearly have to pony up like regular schlubs.

In other pedestrian policy news, Grand Forks is finally paving a sidewalk alongside 2 km of South 42nd Street that have needed it for a long time, and Minneapolis is expanding parking availability for independent bike owners.

John Thune selling out the Internet

Our neighbours seem to have much stronger opinions about Net Neutrality than North Dakota’s Senators:  You have Al Franken on one side, defending the open internet in defiance of his old bosses at Comcast, and then you have John Thune in South Dakota signing on with the pay-to-play crowd, yukking up about “opportunity” while showing off to FCC Commissioners the kind of small businesses that won’t be able to afford access to the marketplace if regulations allowing ISPs to double-dip go forward.

“Net neutrality” isn’t something new — it happens to be the way the Internet has always worked.  What has changed is that certain ISPs want to change the rules of the game, count things they shouldn’t and charge people they shouldn’t as many times as they please.

Demonized over drink

Bluestem Prairie reports Pat Razdak, the President of the Teamsters regional group including Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas, has published an open letter withdrawing union support for Duluth DFLer Roger Reinert, the architect of a proposed measure that would have allowed people to fill growlers on Sundays, a teensy tiny inroad into the dry Sunday laws in Minnesota.

A good public letter would tell Minnesotans exactly why the Teamsters want to keep Jane Schmo from her brewski one day out of the week.  Arguing for the sanctity of the work week, or outing the anonymous liquor wholesaler they claim is actually the bad guy threatening union jobs, might have had some cachet.  But Radzak failed to demonstrate for the public interest, just why the Teamsters care so much whether people can buy alcohol on Sundays.

To a policy analyst, the letter reads entirely like a he-said-she-said; one can clearly see a personal animosity, and a desire to reverse public misconceptions, but facts and references for the public to follow up on are not there.  The scathing tone over what essentially is a single policy disagreement gives the appearance that the Teamsters cannot tolerate dissent.

Oooooohh jaaaaaa you beeetcha

North Dakotans and Minnesotans can be mistaken for funny-talking rubes for years to come with the advent of the new “Fargo” TV show.

Set in Bemidji and filmed in Alberta, it’s like to be the only thing people remember about us aside from the oil.  But they managed to include a North Dakota-born actor in the cast, so hey, it’s not like they completely threw us under the bus.

MN wage rise passes legislature

Following an announcement earlier this week, minimum wage legislation has passed the Minnesota legislature.  When signed into law, HF 2091 will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 “indexed” in 2016.

I have to use “indexed” in quotation marks, because the planned increases in the minimum wage won’t necessarily track inflation. Rather, the increase will track inflation between 0% up to a maximum of 2.5%, and there is administrative discretion to cancel scheduled hikes in any year. If inflation exceeds 2.5%, as it has in about 9 of the last 20 years [chart included], then minimum wage workers will get hit with a crunch.

But a partial index is better than no index at all, and Minnesota’s law could prove to outlast several states set to bump to $10.10 without indexing.