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Wu, Essaibi-George clash on MBTA ‘fiscal calamity’ heading inbound

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Battenfeld: Is Boston ready to become another Cambridge?

The city’s two mayoral finalists are on opposite tracks when it comes to running the MBTA — as one watchdog group warns the transit system is heading for “fiscal calamity” in fiscal 2024.

Michelle Wu says the T should be free, adding “public transit should be a public good — just like libraries or parks.”

Annissa Essaibi-George, however, argues that making public transit free will only worsen the crisis.

“We can’t save a crucial transit system from the brink of ‘fiscal calamity’ by making everything free,” she said in a statement, adding the city instead needs a more “thoughtful” approach.

Wu added in her statement to the Herald that Boston needs “federal, state and local investments in transit improvements at the same time as we fight for a fare-free T to supercharge neighborhood economies and connect our communities.”

A report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation projects that the MBTA will face a budget gap of nearly $200 million in fiscal 2024, which could balloon up to $500 million in fiscal 2026, “leaving the Authority with few options other than layoffs and service cuts,” the report states. It noted that increased calls for reduced fares could worsen the situation.

The report notes that the pandemic has deepened an existing revenue crisis for the MBTA by sharply decreasing fare revenues while maintaining the same service and operating costs.

On top of this, the report mentions the competing needs for capital funds for basic maintenance, $25 billion over the next 10 years, along with the costs of addressing the growing threats of climate change, with a $7 billion price tag.

Although nearly $2 billion in federal aid allowed the MBTA to balance its operating budgets for now, the report says, “the MBTA will soon hit insurmountable operating gaps that expand each year as expenses continue to outpace revenue growth.”

An MBTA spokesperson acknowledged the MBTA’s financial challenges and said it’ll invest “billions” into infrastructure upgrades and new vehicles to make the T more reliable and draw people back.

Transportation for Massachusetts echoed the report’s findings that “we do not yet have a dedicated, adequate state funding plan to support the public transit investments and operations needed to serve the public,” and advocated for swift action from Gov. Charlie Baker, the Legislature and the MBTA.

Raise Up Massachusetts, another advocacy group, said the crisis could be solved with the Fair Share Amendment, or the proposed millionaire’s tax in the state.

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St. Louis sports fans rooting against Rams in NFL lawsuit

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St. Louis sports fans rooting against Rams in NFL lawsuit

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis sports fans watching Thursday night’s football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams showed little interest in the outcome on the field. The bigger picture for many fans is what will happen in court. 

“I’d like to see St. Louis and the County get billions,” said Will Boyer, assistant general manager of The Post Sports Bar & Grill. 

He recalls the region taking a financial hit when the Rams left town.  Boyer said Rams games were good for business, especially when the team played on a Monday or Thursday night. 

St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authorities are suing the Rams and the NFL over the team’s move to California.  

A circuit judge has ordered the NFL and several team owners to turn over their financial records.  The defendants are fighting that decision.  A motion hearing is scheduled for October 13th

Sandy Goldstein is a St. Louis sports fan who recalls when the football Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona.  He believes a fair settlement would involve the NFL awarding St. Louis another team.  

 “We would absolutely support another football team here and I think we deserve it,” said Goldstein.  

Some sports fans would like to avoid a settlement so the case can work its way through the courts.  

“The NFL has the money,” said St. Louis sports fan Andy Voss. “I think it hurts a little bit more for them to have to go through the process.” 

FOX 2 asked the office of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page if they had a preference between the city being awarded a team or a cash settlement.  

Both offices declined to comment citing the ongoing lawsuit as reason they could not offer an opinion.  

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Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater participating in practice for second straight day

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Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater returns to team meetings, weight room following concussion last Sunday against Ravens

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was back on the practice field Friday for the second consecutive day, making it more likely he will start Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Bridgewater sustained a concussion late in the first half of the Broncos’ loss to Baltimore. He observed practice Wednesday and was listed as a limited participant Thursday.

The only player not accounted for was tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who injured his hamstring Wednesday and sat out Thursday.

Cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) and running back Mike Boone (quad) have practiced all week. They remain on injured reserve so the Broncos would have to make two corresponding roster moves to activate them.

Respect for Watt. Despite missing the Week 3 loss to Cincinnati, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt is tied for second in the NFL with five sacks.

Against Green Bay last week, Watt got two sacks when he might have purposely tripped quarterback Aaron Rodgers and when Rodgers slid behind the line of scrimmage and Watt was the nearest defender.

Watt mostly lined up against Packers right tackle Billy Turner, which means Broncos right tackle Bobby Massie could get the regular assignment.

“Really good player,” Fangio said of Watt, who led the league last year with 15 sacks. “The thing that stands out besides the obvious — and his production is very obvious — is his instincts for the game are top-notch. That helps him make all those plays. He’s a highly talented guy with a high level of instincts and that produces a great player.”

Watt had 2 1/2 sacks in last year’s win over the Broncos.

“I respect his relentless pursuit to the ball,” outside linebacker Von Miller said. “I remember seeing a couple of plays, I think two years ago, when it wasn’t even about the pass rush or getting tackles for loss. He would chase the ball 20 yards down the field and cause a fumble.”

Tuszka a Steeler. Outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka was a seventh-round pick by the Broncos in 2020 and played in nine games (six tackles). But he was cut after this year’s preseason, passed on the depth chart by rookies Jonathon Cooper and Andre Mintze.

Tuszka signed with Pittsburgh’s practice squad and has played 35 snaps in two games (two tackles).

“He’s a quick learner,” Tomlin said. “He’s been able to get on the moving train — I describe this process in that way when you’re not with us at the beginning (of camp). He’s done a good job fitting in with the group and getting a sense of this environment, this culture and finding his space in it. We’ve been pleased with his addition.’

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Rare-early evening Draconid meteor shower peaks Friday night

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Rare-early evening Draconid meteor shower peaks Friday night

ST. LOUIS– Stargazers are in for a treat tomorrow night as the Draconid meteor shower will peak Friday evening across the Northern Hemisphere.

The St. Louis area is anticipating clear skies for tomorrow night. You can find the cloud cover for a different region on the 7-day Cloud Cover Forecast.

EarthSky reports that unlike many meteor showers, the Draconids are short-lived. October 8 is the peak but you may be able to catch some meteors on the days surrounding Friday.

EarthSky suggests use the Big Dipper to star-hop to the star Polaris. Polaris marks the end star in the handle of the Little Dipper. 

NASA says the Draconid meteors are caused when Earth collides with bits of debris shed by periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner (and that’s why this shower used to be called the Giacobinids). 

The Draconid does not usually produce a rich meteor shower. EarthSky says you can expect about 5 to 10 meteors per hour.

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In Steamboat, Alpine Mountain Ranch & Club sees its custom sites sell rapidly as buyers seek splendor, privacy

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In Steamboat, Alpine Mountain Ranch & Club sees its custom sites sell rapidly as buyers seek splendor, privacy

What began as a blip in the mountain resort market as the pandemic arrived in 2020 has now become a full-blown trend—as buyers make changes in their lives, rethinking where they want to live, opting for the peace and majesty you can see this weekend a few minutes from the ski lifts in Steamboat.

Alpine Mountain Ranch & Club, with 5-acre homesites that have transcendent views of the ski resort and Yampa Valley, was selling well coming into the pandemic, but 2021 has seen an avalanche of new buyers making that choice. Already this year, the ranch has had 17 sales, placing it well past the halfway point of its 63 total sites.

“People choose us to build their forever mountain home for its nearness to the ski area and downtown Steamboat, but also its tranquility,” says William P. Butler, developer.

“It’s a lifestyle equal to that in the mature resort markets, but at much greater value. Building a home in Aspen, Vail, or Park City is twice to three times more expensive and not truly comparable for the investment for that level of home here,” he adds.

Butler salutes his team for seeing the community’s vision through a 10-year recession, to a moment when Alpine Mountain Ranch & Club is earning a national reputation as one of the most sought-after places to own.

Those choice sites (they’re priced now from $1.75M) are increasingly luring buyers that see Steamboat as a year-round home (some 40% are full-timers).

“Buyers are telling us that someday has become now,” says Suzanne Schlicht, Senior Vice President and Director of Sales. To that end, Alpine Mountain Ranch’s affiliated Alpine Master Builders has two custom market homes underway for early 2022 delivery that you could own from $5.695 million.

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Westminster city manager resigns a day after police chief’s exit

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Westminster city manager resigns a day after police chief’s exit

Provided by the City of Westminster

Westminster City Manager Donald M. Tripp resigned from the job on Oct. 8, 2021.

Westminster City Manager Donald M. Tripp has resigned, stepping down a day after the city announced the retirement of its police chief amid a workplace review that found policy violations under his watch.

Police Chief Tim Carlson retired Wednesday after spending nearly three months on paid leave during the outside review. Tripp, who had overseen the administration of Colorado’s eighth-largest city for nearly seven years, did not cite the problems in the police department as a factor in his resignation but said in a news release Thursday that the issue did affect the timing of his announcement.

“I have for some time now believed that we needed a change — a new voice to guide city staff — but I wanted to support our police department and ensure our officers have leadership in place before I stepped down,” Tripp said. “While there is never a perfect time to let go of the reins, I am thankful to have a strong executive team, and I am confident the city will have a smooth transition.”

This week’s leadership changes mean Westminster is looking to fill two top positions simultaneously. Norm Haubert is in place as interim police chief, and Jody Andrews, one of Tripp’s deputy managers, will serve as acting city manager.

“Don is a dynamic, solution-oriented leader and he has built a strong executive team who will continue to ensure our city services and infrastructure are delivered equitably, sustainably and effectively,”  Mayor Anita Seitz said in the news release.

Tripp was Westminster’s director of parks, recreation and libraries for about three years before being appointed city manager in 2015. He named Carlson, a Westminster police veteran, as chief the next year.

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Lions at Vikings picks: Does Mike Zimmer need a win Sunday to keep his job?

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Lions at Vikings picks: Does Mike Zimmer need a win Sunday to keep his job?

Pioneer Press reporters who cover the Vikings forecast Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Lions:

DANE MIZUTANI

Vikings 28, Lions 17: There’s no chance Mike Zimmer is losing to the lowly Lions. Not when his job could be on the line.

BOB SANSEVERE

Lions 24, Vikings 23: You just can’t trust the Vikings, and despite their 0-4 record the Lions aren’t the pushovers they once were.

JOHN SHIPLEY

Vikings 29, Lions 10: Already reeling, Detroit has injury issues on both lines. Vikings have the depth to fill potential holes in backfield and defensive line — and are eager to prove cynics and critics wrong.

CHRIS TOMASSON

Vikings 27, Lions 16: How lopsided has the Vikings-Lions series been? Even Mike Tice went 8-0 against Detroit when he was Minnesota’s coach from 2002-05. Expect the Vikings to roll to an eighth straight win in the series.

CHARLEY WALTERS

Vikings 24, Lions 13: Winless Detroit has several injured offensive linemen and last week put star center Frank Ragnow from Chanhassen on injured reserve. If Minnesota doesn’t win this game, coach Mike Zimmer could be gone by Monday.

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Vikings’ Dalvin Cook questionable for Sunday; Michael Pierce ruled out

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Vikings’ Dalvin Cook does some work in practice; Michael Pierce still out

After missing two days of practice due his sprained right ankle, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook returned to the field Friday and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Vikings listed nose tackle Michael Pierce (elbow) and wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (toe) as out. Linebacker Anthony Barr was not on the injury report after missing the first four games of the season due to a knee injury, and is expected to play against the Lions.

Cook was hurt Sept. 19 at Arizona and missed the Sept. 26 game against Seattle. He returned last Sunday against Cleveland, but was hampered by the injury and rushed for just 34 yards on nine carries.

“He had a good week (of practice). We’ll see,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, adding that Cook could be a game-time decision.

Pierce, who was lost in the third quarter of the 14-7 loss to the Browns, is expected to be replaced in the lineup by Armon Watts. The Vikings also could use three-technique Dalvin Tomlinson some at nose tackle.

Smith-Marsette, who was hurt against Seattle, will miss his second straight game.

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Coronavirus Friday update: 3,611 new infections and 20 more deaths

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Coronavirus Friday update: Thirteen more deaths and 2,645 more infections

Minnesota recorded 20 more COVID-19 fatalities Friday and 3,611 new coronavirus infections, according to the state Department of Health.

Those deaths reported Friday were for Minnesotans who ranged in age from their early 50s to their late 90s with three residing in long-term care and 17 in private homes. Four of the deaths occurred in September and 16 in October.

The state’s death toll from the virus is now 8,295 with 4,671 fatalities in long-term care. Another 113 fatalities are suspected to have been caused by COVID-19, but the person never had a positive coronavirus test.

The 3,611 new cases reported Friday were the result of about 54,650 tests, pushing the state’s case total to 735,646 since the pandemic began.

Nearly all of Minnesota’s 5.8 million residents has been screened at least once for COVID-19 and the state has conducted more than 12.8 million coronavirus tests overall.

The state’s cumulative test-positivity rate is about 5.7 percent and the current seven-day rolling average is above 7 percent. Health officials say anything over 5 percent is a sign the pandemic is not under control.

There are 871 patients hospitalized including 236 in critical condition. Hospital leaders say staffing shortages have tightened hospital capacity.

Health officials say vaccines are the best way to avoid a severe illness and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Breakthrough cases are becoming more common, but of the 3.1 million Minnesotans who are fully vaccinated roughly 99 percent have not reported a breakthrough infections.

Minnesota has administered 6.5 million doses of vaccine and 3.4 million residents have gotten at least one dose. Of the vaccine eligible population, age 12 and older, about 73 percent have gotten at least one shot.

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Vikings’ Dalvin Cook does some work in practice; Michael Pierce still out

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Vikings’ Dalvin Cook does some work in practice; Michael Pierce still out

After not practicing Wednesday and Thursday due to his sprained right ankle, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did some work in Friday’s practice during the portion that was open to the media.

Cook was hurt Sept. 19 at Arizona and missed the Sept. 26 game against Seattle. He returned last Sunday against Cleveland, but was hampered by the injury and rushed for just 34 yards on nine carries.

The Vikings will provide an update on Friday afternoon on Cook’s status for Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Nose tackle Michael Pierce did not practice Friday, meaning he missed the entire week of workouts with his elbow injury. His chances of playing against the Lions do not look good.

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who suffered a toe injury against Seattle and sat out against Cleveland, also did not practice all week. It is unlikely he will play against Detroit.

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Vikings broadcaster, former player Greg Coleman says this season could turn good or bad, starting Sunday

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Vikings broadcaster, former player Greg Coleman says this season could turn good or bad, starting Sunday

Greg Coleman has been involved with the Vikings most of his adult life.

After a distinguished career as a punter and holder with them, Coleman has spent more than two decades as a sideline reporter for the team’s radio network.

His pregame remarks and postgame interviews are highlights of every broadcast.

Coleman knows the Vikings as well as anyone, and the Pioneer Press chatted with him about what he has seen through four games and a 1-3 record.

I think they’re a team that’s on the cusp of either moving forward or taking three steps back. When you’re so close and you don’t find a way to win, it could become a habit. That could either be a positive habit or one that’s negative.

Now, hopefully, they’ll get some other players back from injuries — and a healthy Dalvin Cook. Maybe even our first taste of Christian Darrisaw. Maybe even a taste of Anthony Barr. That would be a shot in the arm for any team.

It doesn’t hurt you that you’re playing the Detroit Lions. That’s not to say that it’s a cakewalk or a pushover, because as you well know, on any given Sunday, somebody can jump up and bite you in the hind parts.

This team is loaded with talent. It’s loaded with potential. That’s what makes it so disappointing. You say you’re one, two, three plays away from being 3-1 or 4-0. Well, the good teams find a way to win. You don’t want to get into a place where the habits that you’re creating, you’re always coming up one or two plays short.

The last great Vikings team would have to be that Randall Cunningham, that Chris Carter, that Randy Moss team. That team was, from top to bottom, one of the most complete teams — offense, defense and special teams. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from (former coach Brad Childress) Chili’s year with Brett Favre when they went to the NFC championship game. That was a damn good team as well.

And we were pretty damn good (in 1987 when the Vikings lost to Washington in the NFC title game). You’re one or two plays away, but again, that’s the difference between a good team and a great team. We didn’t play our best football in Washington, but we played great against San Francisco (in the divisional round). We played great against New Orleans (in the wild-card round). We just didn’t have that edge that we needed when we played Washington. Not taking anything away from them because they were a good football team as well. As you know, they went on to win the Super Bowl. They smacked Denver. Again, I will go back to saying at any given time, the great teams find a way to win.

To beat Detroit, they need to duplicate what they did and how they played against Seattle. Because Seattle, one of the upper-echelon teams in the National Football League, with Russell Wilson and that defense, the Vikings dominated the game.

They dominated the second half. Although they didn’t score touchdowns, they dominated the time of possession and they kept the ball out of Russell’s hand. When he got the ball, they beat him up pretty good. They put the pressure on him. That kind of pressure is going to be needed against the Detroit Lions. Now, don’t get me wrong, Detroit has some players that are pretty darn good, but collectively they’re not there yet.

You need to kick a team when it’s down. As my old coach down at Florida A & M, Jake Gaither, used to say, kill a mosquito with an ax. That’s what they’ve got to do for Detroit.

I will try and paraphrase what Mike Zimmer said after the Arizona loss. Yes, the kick did not win the game, but we had opportunities to put that game away early in the third quarter, early in the fourth quarter, and didn’t. The same thing happened in Cincinnati. You had an opportunity to put a team away — and you didn’t. Zim always talks about being able to finish. That’s what this team has not been able to do. They finished pretty good against Seattle. That’s a telltale sign.

When you have an opportunity to put a team away with touchdowns instead of field goals (you do it), because sometimes those field goals are going to come back and bite you in the hind parts. But this team, the team last year, when you have those opportunities to finish, you have got to finish because those create habits.

You talk about when preparation meets opportunity, it’s going to equal success. Well, how do you know you’re totally prepared because, let’s face it, this is just the way that the National Football League is: They don’t practice hard. They don’t hit any more during the course of the week. You hope that you can duplicate what you did in practice against another team. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to do because you can’t simulate. There’s nothing that takes the place of hitting.

It’s hard to say (if Zimmer’s job is safe). I think if they turn this thing around, he’ll be OK. But let’s face it, you have an ownership who will say that we have given you everything you have asked for for years on offense, defense, special teams, what else do you want? Like Bud said, when you don’t win, changes are made. It depends on how much tolerance they have. But again, they are so close. They are so close to really turning this thing around.

They’ve had a hell of an investment, not only in the team, but in the TCO Performance Center, they’ve got the top of the line in everything in equipment and you name it. The practice facility is second to none. U.S. Bank Stadium is the cat’s meow in the National Football League. They have had an outlay of cash in their investment and they want to see a return. They probably want to see that return on investment pretty soon.

Kirk Cousins? I hope you can understand what I’m about to say. I am a guy for whoever’s in the purple uniform — whether it’s Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, whomever is under center — that’s who I’m for, because there ain’t many great quarterbacks out on the street. You have to ride the horse that you brought to the dance.

Absolutely, the first three weeks, Kirk played phenomenal. This past week, I think, was a game of chess. It was grasshopper (Kevin Stefanski) against sensei (Zimmer). I think grasshopper played a few moves, chess moves, where he took your bishop, he took your queen, and then you had to crown him because it was a game of chess. There were a lot of people on the other side of the field that were very, very familiar with the players of Minnesota, with the systems of Minnesota, with the mentality of Minnesota. I think they used that to their advantage.

Yeah. I think the beauty (of doing the broadcast) was that I developed relationships early doing OTAs and training camp prior to COVID. Some of the young players that I’ve not developed relationships with, they don’t know me. They don’t know if I’m going to burn them, especially after a loss. Some of the veteran players like Adam Thielen, he knows that I’m not going to burn him. Zim knows that I’m not going to burn him. I’m not going to ask a stupid question. I just say that I’m the warmup, I’m batting practice for when he comes in there with you (media) guys. I will never burn a coach with what I know and what I’ve observed over the years. I’ll never do that to a player because I wouldn’t want that done to me. I think relationships are critical.

Guys I loved watching play over the years? That’s a very interesting question. Bo Jackson was one. Walter Payton. On our own sideline, Ahmad Rashad.. Ahmad was one of the most gifted receivers. Obviously, Chris Carter was special, Randy Moss was special. Anthony Carter, absolutely.

Absolutely, Lawrence Taylor was one of them. Adrian Peterson in his prime. Keith Millard. I would also put Chris Doleman in that group. When he was in his prime, there was nobody better. I caught Carl Eller and Jim Marshall at the end of their careers. But man, during their prime, they were awesome. You talk about Chuck Foreman. When we were little, in high school and stuff, Chuck Foreman was the guy. And Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. He was phenomenal. There’s a ton, man. There’s a ton.

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