Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Cop chases three times more dangerous in St. Paul

MORNING EDITION ALSO: The government shutdown and a wedding; more budget wreckage; Bachmann on what she’s all about; new fake turf for the Dome; and more.
Read Friday Afternoon edition


Cop chases three times more dangerous in St. Paul

If you’re an innocent bystander you might want to take your chances with the Minneapolis cops in a high speed chase. Mara Gottfried and Mary Jo Webster of the PiPress put together a study of several years of police chases and determine that it’s dangerous when the St. Paul PD is in pursuit. “St. Paul police pursuits have led to injuries or fatalities three times more often than those in Minneapolis, according to a Pioneer Press analysis of seven years of police chase data from the state. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently said St. Paul wasn’t liable in one of the crashes, in which the 21-year-old bystander had to have her leg amputated and sued the city. But Judge Heidi Schellhas, writing for the majority in upholding the city’s immunity, said the judges were concerned about an aspect of the St. Paul police pursuit policy — it allows officers to chase a drug suspect whose identity is known and who could be found later. The attorney for the injured woman argues in an appeal document to the Minnesota Supreme Court that ‘chasing a suspect at 100 mph down a city street towards a complicated intersection constitutes a reckless disregard for the safety of others’. The St. Paul city attorney said the appeals court ruling was correct. Bystanders killed or injured might be the most worrisome outcome of police chases, but such cases are rare in Minnesota. Seven percent of chase fatalities or injuries were people who were not involved in the pursuit, amounting to 86 people, according to the Pioneer Press analysis of the data.”

We will of course be getting plenty of national attention if the budget stand-off goes all the way to a shutdown. An AP story by Patrick Condon is getting a lot of play around the country. “After enduring a 15-month deployment together in Iraq and more than a year living in separate states, Crystal Morales and Derek Cloutier can’t wait to get married next month in their dream location, a historical military chapel on the bluffs above the Mississippi River in Minnesota. One big problem: Fort Snelling State Park and its chapel may close July 1 if the Minnesota government shuts down. … Minnesota’s looming shutdown is the latest and most frantic example of a state dealing with the recession’s lingering effects, a fiscal crisis and polarized politics. Across the border in Wisconsin, where one party controlled power, the combination led to swift, sweeping change and then backlash from those opposed to reforms affecting public workers and schools. In Minnesota, a divided state government has led to stubborn brinksmanship with no progress for months on how to fix a $5 billion deficit. This shutdown could touch the lives of far more people than 2005’s partial closure, which affected a few major state agencies and about 8,000 state employees. This time, virtually the entire state government could be involved, from state parks to road work. About 42,000 state and public college employees have gotten notices of possible layoffs.” Go ahead, brag to your relatives in Florida.

Bill Salisbury and Dennis Lien of the PiPress tote up the possible wreckage, writing: “State parks would close. There’s a chance Canterbury Park and Running Aces horse racing tracks would shut their gates. You couldn’t buy a state lottery ticket. The Minnesota Zoo might close. A shutdown also would have significant impacts on health, education and other vital services across the state. Hospitals and nursing homes might not get paid for treating patients on the state-subsidized Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs. Cities, counties and school districts could lose their state aid. Job-training programs would close. Teachers wouldn’t be able to renew their licenses. Kids turning 16 couldn’t get driver’s licenses.”

With both Michele Bachmann and T-Paw making appearances at the Rightonline Conference over the weekend in Minneapolis, a few of the local news dogs got a moment with the candidates.  KARE-TV’s story says: “In a one-on-one interview with KARE 11 following her speech, Bachmann said she doesn’t plan on shifting her target to Republicans anytime soon. She instead wants voters to independently learn more about the candidates. ‘I think the voters are going to sort out the difference between the various candidates. Many of the voters are just meeting the candidates for the first time. The seven of us were on stage in New Hampshire earlier this week, and they’re just getting to know all of us. And I think it’s important to know who we are, where we stand, what our record is,’ she said. Once they’ve done that research, Bachmann told KARE 11 she’s ‘confident’ voters will agree with her agenda. ‘I’m very confident once people get to know me, get to know my record and the fact that my first priority is job creation and turning the economy around — which is what we must do right now — I think they will resonate to my message’, Bachmann said.” Oh … her record is all about “job creation.” Now she tells us.

Someone better keep using the Metrodome what with all the cash being dropped on the old barn. Kevin Duchschere of the Strib says: “After months of getting rained on, pounded with packed snow and flattened by heavy equipment used to fix the roof, the Metrodome’s artificial turf may have to be replaced before the Vikings resume play there in August, Dome officials said Friday. Based on preliminary tests, officials believe the turf can be made playable again. If not, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission this week authorized a bidding process to ensure that new turf, costing up to $800,000, would be ready by mid-August, in time for the Vikings’ preseason games.”

Ol’ Sooch stands up for the hardest working among us in his Sunday column. Says Joe Soucheray in the PiPress, after riffing on the dark “truster” implications of Mark Dayton’s South Dakota bank accounts, “… it doesn’t square with me that the governor wants to increase taxes on the hardest-working people in Minnesota, there being a connection between hard work and higher incomes. Wealth, on the other hand, is a store of money, a supply, a reserve, which in Dayton’s case, for example, bleeds off an income on which he is taxed and on which he certainly has been forthright in paying in his taxes. … He wants to spend more than the state takes in and accuses Republicans of being obstinate in their refusal to see the virtue in his thinking. There is no virtue in his thinking. It’s the thinking of a guy who gets his income by going to the mailbox, just like the growing legions of the entitled he represents, and on whose behalf he wants to play Robin Hood. If he gets his way, the government grows. There is a bigger baseline the next time and the time after that and so on, until the state runs out of hard-working, higher-income people to foot the bill. Dayton doesn’t have a leg to stand on in making this call for higher taxes, not even one toe.”  That Garage Logic is some kinda logic, ain’t it?

A “staff report” in the Alexandria Echo Press looks into a survey on metropolitan areas with inadequate public transportation for seniors. “The analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology evaluates metro areas within each of five size categories. It shows that in just four years, nearly a quarter million seniors in Minnesota cities will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving. Metro Atlanta ranks the worst for metro populations 3 million and over. Kansas City tops the list for metros of 1-3 million, followed by Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham. In smaller areas like Hamilton, OH 100 percent of seniors will live without access to public transportation. … In Hennepin County for example, only 44 percent of existing senior apartment buildings are within walking distance of a daily bus route. In Anoka County, where a mere 9 percent of senior apartments have access to transit, the situation is already dire.”

An editorial in the Mankato Free Press takes a shot at ending the budget battle. “Here are a few things that could and should be considered. Install a sales tax on clothing and services. We’ve said this before. It is the least regressive tax because it acts more as a consumption tax. People can choose whether they want to pay it by their consumption habits. Democrats in the House had such a bill this year and the GOP didn’t reject it outright. The GOP should ignore the chest-thumping of the party chair and put this on the table as its first step toward reconciliation. It would be seen as diplomatic leadership that is fair to everyone. In return, Dayton could relent on his hospital fee and surcharge bookkeeping ploy (counting them as spending rather than income, as was pointed out by to show we have more in our ‘checkbook.’” So a tax on clothing is “the least regressive” tax … ?

We always recommend you consider the source, especially when it’s Red McCombs. He gives an interview to Viking Update on the subject of his failure to get a new stadium built while he was hanging around town. “What McCombs said is the most troubling is that there is plenty of data to support the idea that stadiums generate a lot of money, not just for the owners of sports franchises, but for the communities in which they are located. He likened the Vikings situation to what happened in Green Bay when renovations were needed to Lambeau Field. The result of that decision has paid dividends ever since. ‘The reality is that every stadium, especially football stadiums, have all made money for the cities that they’re in,’ McCombs said. ‘If they build a new stadium and get a Super Bowl in Minnesota, they will come a long way to recouping the investment money back with just that one event. A few years ago, the City of Green Bay barely passed a measure to improve (Lambeau Field). They did and it has been a cash cow ever since. People visit the stadium year-round and it has become a tourist attraction. They are realizing the benefit of having an improved stadium there and it’s hard to imagine that something can work everywhere else in the country, but somehow won’t work in the Twin Cities. It just doesn’t make sense.’”  And that man moved a lot of cars off his lots.