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Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson will trade in his suit and tie for an anorak and a pair of heavy Trans-Alaska boots next week, as he journeys north to prepare for an unexpected entrance in the grueling 1,000-plus-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Duluth's 4th District City Council race heated up Tuesday afternoon, as Tom Furman announced he will seek the seat now occupied by Howie Hanson. Meanwhile, the incumbent councilor said he won't seek another term. "I will not run for re-election next fall, exclusively due to growing business conflicts of interest," said Hanson in a written statement. "I have mostly enjoyed my three-plus years on the council, and I have learned a lot. A lot."
Tackling a diverse agenda, the Duluth City Council moved forward on three significant fronts Monday night: Setting the stage for new residential and commercial development below Spirit Mountain. Authorizing extra police overtime to fight drug trafficking in partnership with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Approving funding to beef up the city's rental housing inspections. Kayak Bay Village By an 8-1 vote, councilors approved a proposed zoning change to open the way for a new development dubbed Kayak Bay Village.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson offers no excuses for the $7,582 her administration spent on travel and training during her first year in office. That budget item has continued to trend upward under Larson's watch but for good reason, she said. As a new mayor shepherding a large request for state bonding support, Larson said she has been spending a lot of time in St. Paul.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard founded Sacred Stone, the first resistance camp formed to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. But this weekend she came to Duluth to participate in an intertribal summit, focused on holding pipeline companies to higher account in their dealings with Native Americans throughout North America. About 90 tribal representatives gathered Sunday at the Inn on Lake Superior to unify and strategize in their respective battles. But nowhere is the fight more heated than in Allard's backyard.
It turns out that the city of Duluth is the owner of a tiny triangle-shaped parcel of land located smack-dab in the middle of a Menards lumberyard. The home improvement center has been squatting on about 130 square feet of city land inside the footprint of its sprawling West Duluth retail operation for more than a decade now, unbeknownst to either company or city officials. But no longer. "Because Menards is refinancing, they redid the title work, and that's how they found this," explained Keith Hamre, Duluth's director of planning and construction services.
About 70 representatives of Native American tribes in Canada, the Great Lakes region and North Dakota plan to gather in Duluth this weekend to compare notes and strategize in their ongoing battle against oil pipelines both old and new. “Many of them have old lines that are 50 years old, and people are deeply concerned about the impact of those lines on their water,” said Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Native American environmental group Honor the Earth.
A petition launched last week raised the specter of Congdon Park Hockey Club becoming homeless again. The program lost its first home when Congdon Park Elementary School expanded in 2012. The Neighbors of Lower Chester Park, a local group that oversees the city park, reached out to the Congdon club, inviting it to make use of its neighborhood rink instead, and the program has thrived in its new setting, growing from an original base of about 40 families to serve more than 70 today, with youth players ages 4 to 10.
Immigrants such as Yi-Mei "Amy" Yang, a Chinese-born pharmacologist specializing in neurological research, reflect the face of St. Louis County's growth in recent years. She joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School's Duluth campus in September, relocating from Canada, where she'd spent the past 10 years working at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, the largest pediatric research center in the world. Yang described being impressed during a visit to the Duluth campus by the attitude she encountered.
German artist and filmmaker Enno Schmidt's whirlwind tour of the nation will take him to Duluth Sunday afternoon, where he will once again promote the idea of providing a guaranteed paycheck to every man, woman and child. Schmidt was one of the primary architects of a Swiss proposal to provide a basic monthly income of 2,500 francs for each adult citizen and 625 francs for every child. While the conversion rate puts the dollar and the Swiss franc on an almost equal footing, Schmidt said the actual buying power of 2,500 francs is really more like $1,400.