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Middle school kids in ‘inappropriate’ photo-sharing flap

North Dakota’s “amazing” Capitol; statistic suggests food stamp fraud; Southdale makeover; Dayton vetoes custody bill; Obama fundraisers; and more.

And these are …middle school kids … Kate Humphreys of the Strib reports: “An inappropriate picture of a Lakeville middle school student that circulated among classmates is under police investigation and has students lighting up social media with talk of multiple suspensions. The school district released few details about the situation Thursday but said in a statement that officials had learned Monday of ‘a possible violation of another student’s privacy using electronic means’ at Century Middle School. Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhof said the department is investigating a report that a photo of one student was shared among other students at the school. He would not characterize the photo, but many social media posts suggested that it was taken in a locker room.” Talk about fodder for talk radio …

The backfilling has begun … Dale Wetzel of the AP writes: “A month after a top Minnesota lawmaker belittled the North Dakota Capitol, one of his fellow GOP House members proclaimed it an ‘amazing structure’ on Thursday after getting a personal tour from Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Trailed by several reporters, Minnesota state Rep. Michael Beard said the Depression-era Capitol is nothing like an insurance company headquarters — no matter what Minnesota Republican House majority leader Matt Dean had said. ‘I’m a pilot. I’m a map guy, so I love heights. Your 18th floor just blows me away,’ Beard, a Republican from Shakopee, Minn., said after visiting the top floor of North Dakota’s 242-foot Capitol tower.” Why that state is so flat, from the 18th floor in Bismarck, you can see … Montana.

Eden Prairie blogger Ellen Hoerle writes again for the Strib. This time, about handling scandals. Cases in point: the Senate with Amy Koch-Michael Brodkorb and Best Buy: “Sure, Best Buy has a board of directors. The Senate has no equivalent overseer of its conduct — except a disinterested and disengaged public and an overwhelmed press corps, neither of which have the ability to hold individual senators accountable directly and immediately. Best Buy has stockholders. The Senate has only the public at large, with diffuse and diverse interests. Therein lies the problem. Senators are expected to police themselves. When they are so immersed in their ideological and partisan ‘families,’ however, they fail to remember it is the interests of the public they were elected to protect. It is this extreme partisanship that disheartens citizen observers like me from believing we can make a difference or have any influence with our elected officials.”

We are a leader in many things … including food stamp fraud. Maya Rao of the Strib reports: “Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation for a key indicator of food stamp fraud, federal statistics show, and the government wants to make it harder to carry out the scheme. The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed rules Thursday that would allow states to better hold accountable citizens who make an excessive number of claims that their benefit cards have been lost or stolen. Such activity is considered a red flag for a type of food stamp ‘trafficking’ that entails a recipient selling their food debit card to a buyer at a discount in exchange for cash. After the buyer uses it at the grocery store, the original owner of the benefits card calls to have it canceled and requests a new one. Nearly 3 percent of the 535,520 low-income Minnesotans receiving those benefits have sought four or more replacement benefit cards, behind only South Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.” And no, this isn’t a bigger deal than the Facebook IPO.

The GleanAnother pricey facelift in Edina … Steve Alexander of the Strib reports: “Southdale is getting a makeover, and the city of Edina is helping to pay for it. A $19.1 million renovation of the nation’s oldest enclosed shopping mall announced Thursday features redesigned entrances, a dining pavilion, a new play area and a change in decor from floor tiles to lighting. The changes are in addition to improvements announced early last year that revolved around attracting Herberger’s department store to Southdale. The latest changes will not expand the mall’s retail floor space. In addition, Southdale announced five new tenants for the renovated mall, and said the stores will be open by November. The newcomers are Lucky Jeans, Madewell, Sephora, Soma Intimates and White House/Black Market.” Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get intimate apparel in Edina?

Sasha Aslainian’s MPR story on Gov. Dayton’s veto of a child custody bill says: “Gov. Mark Dayton … vetoed a bill to change parenting time in child custody cases by increasing the minimum amount of time each parent would spend with the child from 25 percent to 35 percent. … Opponents of the bill said Minnesota courts already have flexibility, and most parents agree on the shared parenting that makes the most sense for their families. ‘What you’re talking about are those cases in which people don’t otherwise agree,’ said Mike Dittberner, a lobbyist for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. His organization and the Family Law Section of the Minnesota Bar opposed the bill. ‘Once you start monkeying around with presumptions and start changing the law and impacting upon those cases in which agreement is not reached, or is only with great difficulty reached, you’re going to run the risk of increasing litigation.’ Battered women’s advocates also opposed the bill.”

It helps to have relatives in high places. President Obama will be in town raising campaign cash next week. Tom Scheck of MPR reports: “President Barack Obama will attend three big-ticket fundraising events during his visit to Minnesota next week, according to a campaign official. Two smaller events at $40,000 and $50,000 a head are planned for Friday, June 1. Obama will also deliver remarks at a luncheon for approximately 100 people who’ve each paid $5,000 to be there, according to the official. Gov. Mark Dayton said he will be going to the luncheon, which will be held at The Bachelor Farmer, a Minneapolis restaurant owned by his two sons.” Apparently all the events will be held at the Dayton boys’ trendy new restaurant.

Patrick Scully, the local performance artist/impresario, defends old-fashioned skinny-dipping in an MPR commentary: “Somehow, we have lost something here that has been enjoyed since the dawn of humanity. For thousands of years we humans have removed our clothes to bathe naked in lakes and rivers. Since the glaciers receded from Minnesota 12,000 years ago, humans have enjoyed the waters of this land of lakes au naturel. Not so long ago, in very recent history, someone decided swimming suits were necessary. What happened? As a boy in the 1930s, my father used to skinny-dip in Beaver Creek, north of Slayton in Murray County. As a boy in the 1960s, I went swimming in downtown St. Paul. We, swimsuited scouts from Roseville, shared the Wilder pool with grown men, all of whom swam naked. No one regarded either situation as a crime, but our youthful swimsuits were an indicator of America’s growing fear of the naked body. Something had changed between my father’s youth and mine. I think the change was driven by fear. The fear is based on a belief that naked equals sex, and sex is bad, and that naked is therefore bad. I believe that many unhealthy behaviors result from this flawed reasoning, ranging from eating disorders to sexual abuse. The repression of natural things encourages them to manifest sideways.”

Finally, someone expects housetraining … for horses. The AP reports: “A popular gentle horse named Chammy has been ordered to leave the New Ulm barn where it has lived for decades — because of complaints about manure. The Journal of New Ulm reported Thursday that Chammy’s owner, Charles Hintz, got a letter last week from the city, ordering that the champagne-colored gelding be removed from the property in 30 days because of an ‘excessive amount of manure.’ In the letter, New Ulm building official Dave Christian said he’d received ‘numerous complaints’ and that the property was zoned for a single-family residence. Christian wrote that having a horse at the house, and the excess manure, violates city code. ‘Manure is one issue, probably the biggest one,’ Christian said. ‘It’s piled up near a property line.’ ” So, file for a fertilizer plant permit …