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Archdiocese paid problem priests thousands in 'medical retirements'

The hits just keep on coming … Today, Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: “For decades, the Rev. Robert Kapoun charmed parishioners with his accordion at "polka masses" across Minnesota. Privately, he took young boys to saunas, rectories and a secluded cabin in Cold Spring and sexually assaulted them, according to court testimony. Parents complained but leaders at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis did little to stop him. … An MPR News investigation found that a year after the trial, the archdiocese allowed Kapoun to retire early and sent him funds beyond his pension pay that totaled about $160,000 by 2012. The money was classified as ‘medical retirement.’ Those retirement payments — $957.50 every month — came in addition to regular pension checks of $1,510.50. … Kapoun is one of several accused priests who've received payments in addition to regular pension checks, according to two former top church officials.

The “shallow tunnel” is still alive. Liala Hilal of MPR writes: “An advisory committee for the Southwest light rail project voted nearly unanimously Wednesday to recommend to the Metropolitan Council that the light rail trains run underground in a shallow tunnel through the scenic and narrow Kenilworth Corridor of Minneapolis, keeping freight alongside it. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was the lone ‘no’ vote. … Met Council chairwoman Susan Haigh said the shallow tunnel option is best because it preserves the Kenilworth Corridor’s green space and bike trails, while still providing access to transit. It’s also cheaper than the $200 million reroute. Met Council staff last week recommended the shallow tunnel option, which costs $160 million.”

Apparently not even a casino can fight city hall. Steve Kuchera and Tom Olsen of the Duluth News Tribune say: “A U.S. District Court judge ruled Tuesday that the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa must pay the city of Duluth at least $10.3 million in casino revenue back payments. The ruling addresses the period between late 2009, when the band stopped paying the city, and April 2011. It does not affect money the city claims the band owes since that date. Mayor Don Ness called the ruling by Judge Susan Nelson ‘an important victory for Duluth’ during a City Hall news conference, and said he believes the final amount owed to the city will increase once interest is taken into account. ‘(It) gives us confidence that the $12 million owed to the city of Duluth will be paid,’ Ness said.”

Another good night Wednesday night for the northern lights. MPR’s Paul Huttner writes: “An impressive display of auroras dazzled onlookers in the northern latitudes overnight. The show was visible in much of Minnesota in the predawn hours today. I spoke with storm chaser and photographer Doug Kiesling today about the show last night. Doug captured some remarkable photos and video near St. Cloud overnight … . A so called ‘G-class’ solar storm is buffeting earth. Astronomy watchers at spaceweather.com describe the impact, and the prospects for more auroras tonight.”

Obviously there’s a difference between “experienced” and “bright.” Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “A 24-year-old ‘experienced climber’ was in critical condition Wednesday after he went up an electric utility pole near the University of Minnesota and touched live wires, authorities said. Minneapolis police identified the man as Steven C. McKinney, who grew up in Plymouth. ‘Police were told [McKinney] is an experienced climber,’ said department spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington. He ‘climbed up the utility pole, came into contact with live wires, accidentally electrocuted himself and was knocked to the ground,’ Barrington said. ‘The transmitter blew up, and power was knocked out to that area.’ ”

The GleanIt’s giant-pumpkin time again. Mary Divine of the PiPress writes: “It's just a few days before the pumpkin weigh-off at Stillwater Harvest Fest, and a world-record grower and a man who expects to set a Minnesota record are playing pumpkin games. Record-setter Chris Stevens of New Richmond, Wis., is talking up Scott Steil's pumpkin, saying the Minnesota state record of 1,630 pounds ‘is definitely going to be in jeopardy this year.’ But Steil, who lives in Richmond, Minn., says Stevens is purposely shining the pumpkin spotlight on him and downplaying his own contender for the $5,000 first prize. ‘He's low-balling it,’ Steil said. ‘He's going to be at about 1,730 (pounds), for sure. What he's doing is he wants you to write all about me, and then he's going to come in and sweep up the win.' "

The visuals are kind of bizarre … The father of the 9-year-old Vegas stowaway held a press conference today ... with a hoodie cinched around his face. The KMSP-TV story says: “The father of 9-year-old boy who hopped on a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas last week answered questions from reporters Wednesday and made a desperate plea for help. ‘I'm a parent, I'm not perfect,’ the boy's dad said. ‘We assumed he was at a friend's house.’ … He said the 9-year-old had been suspended from school for a week in late September – a suspension that was extended. The father and family spokesperson V.J. Smith said they tried to get help for the boy, but they were told ‘he hadn't done enough wrong yet.’ … Smith said that Hennepin County social services has offered help to the family following this latest incident. The boy is expected to return to Minneapolis by Friday. ... At that time, Smith and the boy's father plan to sit down with him and learn why he flew to Las Vegas and what they can do to get him on track. ‘If we can just channel all that energy, he might be our next president’, Smith said.” Just what we need. More reckless 9-year-olds.

Also at KMSP, a remembrance of former anchor-turned-U.S.-Sen. Rod Grams by Tim Lyden: “Longtime family friend Kent Kaiser said Grams' upbringing is a sort of rags-to-riches story, set on the Minnesota prairie. He grew up on a family homestead in Crown, Minn., near St. Francis. After television, he started a small construction firm. As the story goes, he became disillusioned by all the taxes. ‘One day he just called up the Republican Party and said, ‘What can I do,' Kaiser said. Grams was always a conservative with a capital C. He served in the Senate with Paul Wellstone – a polar opposite politically – yet he considered him a respected colleague. ‘He was a calming influence in politics,’ Kaiser said. ‘He got along with everybody, all across the political spectrum, and you don't see that much today.’ ”

The busy Mr. Walsh also tells us: “This holiday season’s series of Holidazzle parades in downtown Minneapolis will be the last as spectators have come to know it and will be held on eight nights, far fewer than in previous years, organizers said Wednesday. … ‘There won’t be a Holidazzle [in 2014] as it is today,’ said Leah Wong, the council’s vice president of events and marketing. ‘In 2014 and moving forward, it will look different from what people have come to know the last 22 seasons.’ Wong said organizers have yet to settle on any specifics for what the holiday festivities will entail starting next year.”

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