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Los Angeles sues US Bank, alleges ‘nefarious conduct’

Vikes, Gophers battle over “official drink”; undercover “animal rights” video; McCollum wants to trim Defense; assisted-suicide convictions affirmed; and more.

These things have a way of being lawyered to dust, but Jon Collins of MPR reports: “The Los Angeles city attorney filed suit Monday against US Bank, arguing that the Minneapolis-based company neglected foreclosed properties and illegally evicted homeowners. The city attorney’s office hopes to force US Bank to stop what it calls illegal evictions and comply with all government regulations and codes. The office is also asking that residents of properties foreclosed on by the bank be paid restitution, and that US Bank reimburse the city for the cost of foreclosed home repairs and inspections. Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said there’s ‘a whole series of nefarious conduct.’ … The Los Angeles city attorney’s office filed a similar suit against Deutsche Bank last year. Since then, Trutanich said the city has seen more banks start to maintain foreclosed properties. That case is still in court.”

These battles of the “official drink” battles are pretty funny. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib writes: “The Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota are playing their own version of Coke vs. Pepsi — with millions of dollars at stake. As the Vikings negotiate to use the school’s TCF Bank Stadium during construction of a new professional stadium, one of the sticking points is the university’s 10-year agreement making Coca-Cola the exclusive soft drink on campus. The Vikings have an agreement with Pepsi, and the National Football League also has an agreement with Gatorade — which is owned by Pepsi — to have ‘Gatorade-logoed coolers, cups and towels’ on the sidelines of all NFL games. The university has had Coke as its exclusive soft drink since 1996, and the latest 104-page contract features an ‘approved cup design’ and lists more than 300 Coke vending machine locations on the Twin Cities campus alone.” So, 104 pages for a soda pop contract and they complain about 2,000 pages for a national health care bill …

Have you considered the living conditions of pregnant sows? Tad Vezner at the PiPress writes: “An animal rights organization released an undercover video Tuesday, July 17, focusing on the welfare of pregnant pigs in pens at a Minnesota breeding farm. Los Angeles-based Mercy For Animals said it hopes to persuade grocers to apply pressure to improve conditions for such sows — particularly the use of gestation pens or so-called ‘crates,’ where sows are housed in close confines during pregnancy. The group’s video, taken by an undercover employee working as a ‘pig health specialist’ providing food and vaccines to pigs from late December to mid-March, purportedly shows conditions at a Hanska, Minn., farm owned by Christensen Farms, one of the five largest pork producers in the country. Christensen supplies pigs to packagers such as JVS Swift and Tyson, which in turn sell to grocers including Costco, Kmart and Walmart. Matt Rice, director of investigations for Mercy For Animals, called the use of gestation pens ‘the most egregious institutionalized form of animal cruelty. This is a lifetime of misery for these animals.’ ” … And then it ends, badly.

We now have surveillance cam video of the alleged sucker punch at the Andover patio last month involving an off-duty cop. I don’t think his case is improved much.

Paul Levy’s story on the incident, in the Strib, says: “Brian Vander Lee, who had two brain surgeries after the alleged assault at Tanners Station in Andover on June 16, has been recovering at home since undergoing a third surgery, on July 4. The latest operation became necessary after an earlier incision erupted, leading to an infection, Anoka County prosecutor Blair Buccicone said on Tuesday. [Sgt. David] Clifford, 47, who has been a member of the Minneapolis Police Department since 1993, was originally charged with third-degree assault, a felony. [He has now been charged with first-degree assault.] Asked why the charges were upgraded, Buccicone said: ‘If there hadn’t been medical intervention, Brian Vander Lee likely would have died.’ ”

Good luck prosecuting DUIs … Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was arrested Tuesday, July 17, on suspicion of drunken driving and was being held in the St. Louis County Jail. ‘I can tell you that we received a couple of driving complaints on him,’ State Patrol Sgt. Curt Mowers said. ‘A trooper found him and stopped him based on the driver’s conduct of the reporting parties. He was arrested.’ … Pertler, 47, told the News Tribune in March that he resigned his position as an adjunct instructor at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in February because he was embarrassed by his inability to communicate with students when he came to class after drinking at a bar with a boyhood friend.”

Heresy! Rep. Betty McCollum makes the case that defense spending needs a haircut. In a Strib commentary, she says: “This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will debate a $608 billion defense appropriations bill, the largest piece of the federal government’s discretionary budget. As a member of the House Appropriations and Budget committees, I take my responsibility for fiscal oversight seriously. That is why I will be offering two amendments to cut wasteful defense programs by $260 million and direct the savings toward reducing the deficit. The first amendment I will offer with Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, ends the Pentagon’s professional sports sponsorship program and puts the saving toward reducing the deficit. You may be surprised to learn that taxpayers are spending $80 million this year to sponsor NASCAR and Indy car racing teams, professional bass fishing and ultimate fighting. Pentagon officials claim these subsidies are crucial for military recruitment — but the facts say otherwise.”

SuperValu shareholders said “no” to a plan to require fewer of them to sell off parts of the company. The Strib story, by Mike Hughlett, says: “At the company’s annual meeting Tuesday, shareholders voted down a measure that would have reduced the supermajority needed to approve a whole or partial sale from 75 percent to 66 2/3 percent. The proposal was submitted by a Supervalu shareholder this spring, and has been in the company’s proxy statement since May. ‘The vote is in no way related to our announcement last week that we would be reviewing strategic alternatives and it will have no impact on that review,’ said Mike Semienas, a Supervalu spokesman.” If you say so …

There are limits to “free speech.” Emily Gurnon of the PiPress says: “The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the convictions of a former nurse from Faribault who sent Internet messages to suicidal people encouraging them to kill themselves. The state law on which the convictions of William Melchert-Dinkel in Rice County District Court were based is not constitutionally overbroad as written or as applied to him, the appeals court ruled in an opinion filed Tuesday, July 17. ‘A suicide advocate or opponent may discuss suicide as thoroughly as he prefers; he simply may not, for example, advise a suicidal person to hang herself or encourage or help her to do so,’ Judge Kevin G. Ross wrote for a three-judge panel that included Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright and retired Judge Stephen Muehlberg.”

The story of the McLeod County GOP chairman and his ex-girlfriend, GOP Rep. Mary Franson, is real close to defying coherent explanation. Gregory Pratt at City Pages writes: “McLeod County Republican Party chair Eric Harpel reported his email hacked to police yesterday afternoon. Glencoe Police Chief Jim Raiter tells City Pages that Harpel reported his email account hacked and says Harpel was told to contact his account providers. He declined to comment further because the matter is ‘under investigation.’ Harpel has been in the news lately for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend, state representative Mary Franson, a charge Harpel denies. Another female Republican, Marie Thurn, also accused Harpel of threatening her after she resigned her GOP leadership position in protest of the alleged stalking. Harpel will contest Franson’s restraining order in court at a hearing set for late August. Rep. Franson declined to discuss Harpel’s report to police when reached for comment. Harpel could not be reached.” Shouldn’t they all be at a Defense of Marriage/Voter ID prayer group, or something?