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Minnesota ordered to clean up sex offender procedures

Schulze’s board struggles; feds tough on North Shore taconite operations; Rybak’s license photos; “car surfing” follow; and more.

At the Strib, Larry Oakes has the latest on a judge’s order that Minnesota clean up its sex offender procedures: “A federal judge has ordered Minnesota to reform its system for civilly committing and confining paroled sex offenders to indefinite treatment, a controversial practice that has drawn international criticism because almost no one has gotten out.  Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on Wednesday ordered state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson to convene a task force of experts to recommend options less restrictive than the state’s prison-like treatment centers and to suggest changes in how offenders are selected for civil commitment, as well as how they might earn release from the program. … The program’s population has soared to more than 600 the most sex-offender civil commitments per capita in the country. Only two have won provisional discharge.”

At MPR, Martin Moylan has a bit more on Richard Schulze’s struggles with the current Best Buy board: “Ohio State University takeover law expert Steven Davidoff, an Ohio State University law professor who writes the DealBook column for The New York Times, said Schulze can talk to potential partners, but must stop short of forming an investment partnership. ‘If you look at the statement from Best Buy, he’s certainly free to talk to them. He’s not free to form a group,’ Davidoff said. ‘He could talk about the possibility of making a bid. But once they enter beyond preliminary stages, he’s going to have to come back to the board and seek their approval.’ The law gives Best Buy’s board great leeway in deciding whether to reject Schulze’s takeover proposal.”

The feds are pushing North Shore taconite operations harder than their state brethren. John Myers at the Duluth News Tribune says: “The new federal implementation plan, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, will require taconite plants to install technology to reduce smokestack emissions that cause haze and lung ailments, namely nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. The regulations go as far as setting specific limits on how much haze-causing air pollution each of Minnesota’s six taconite plants can emit and also set limits for the Tilden mine in Michigan. While the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved a so-called regional haze emissions plan for the six operating taconite plants in April, the EPA now is saying that plan didn’t go far enough. The state plan generally said the taconite plants were already doing all they could to reduce haze pollution and didn’t need to apply ‘best available retrofit technology.’ ”

That Rybak guy gets around … Eric Roper at the Strib uses the Minneapolis mayor as an example of how police license plate scanners can follow anybody pretty much anywhere. “On Aug. 3, a mobile camera spotted Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s city-owned car on 5th Avenue downtown. On Aug. 7, it found the car again on Nicollet Island. On Aug. 9, another camera saw the mayor’s car on a side street near the University of Minnesota. … Over the course of a year, scanners spotted Rybak’s current and former city-owned cars 41 times. … A police spokesman, Sgt. William Palmer, said last week that they retain the data for a year ‘to ensure we can comply with requests for public data’ and that they hope to get guidance from the state about how long to keep it. On Thursday, Rybak said he asked Police Chief Tim Dolan to develop recommendations for the City Council and him to consider. ‘In some cases, the license plate data the police have retained have proven helpful in investigating and solving crimes,’ Rybak said in a statement. ‘But there are important, legitimate concerns around the length of time it is stored and how it is or can be used or accessed that we need to address’.”

The Glean Do you have a bottle of the president’s home brew? Tom Horgen of the Strib writes: “Brad Magerkurth just wanted a cup of coffee. The traveling beer salesman from the Twin Cities had just sat down at a small-town Iowa cafe when in walked the president of the United States. Minutes later, Magerkurth was talking beer with Barack Obama and being offered a bottle of the president’s home brew. ‘I thought to myself: ‘This is really weird,’, Magerkurth recalled Thursday. The whole encounter raised two questions: 1) The president has a home-brewing operation at the White House? And 2) He travels with a stockpile of homemade beer in his motorcoach? Yes, reports Brad the Beer Guy, as he’s known in the Twin Cities’ tight-knit craft beer community. ‘He’s just a dude,’ Magerkurth said of his encounter with the president.” The First Dude, actually, with apologies to Todd Palin.

Don’t mess with the sag! According to the AP story: “A man who was kept off a bus because of his saggy pants is accused of hitting a bus depot worker with a magazine rack. Prosecutors in Fargo, N.D., have charged Nigel Wakefield, 25, of Detroit with aggravated assault. The incident happened Tuesday at a south Fargo bus station. Ticket taker James Lovejoy told Wakefield he couldn’t get on the bus because his pants were hanging so low that his underwear was showing. Police say Wakefield got mad, picked up a magazine rack and hit Lovejoy at least three times on the right side of his head.”

More on Thursday’s “car surfing” report. This from Elizabeth Mohr at the PiPress: “In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study of car-surfing deaths in the United States, calling the practice ‘a thrill-seeking activity’ with ‘potentially lethal consequences’ even at slow speeds. Car-surfing incidents began appearing in the early 1990s and typically involved teen males, the CDC report said. A survey of newspaper articles — official mortality data do not include this category — showed 58 reports of car-surfing deaths and 41 reports of nonfatal injuries from 1990 through August 2008, according to the CDC. Renee Swanson said she’s been in touch with some of the ‘boys’ with her son that night and was told he was lying on top of the moving car. After he fell, his friends brought him to a nearby casino to get help because they had little to no cellphone service at the site of the accident, she said. ‘They just heard him up there laughing and having a good time and then he fell,’ she said.”

According to Tad Veznor of the PiPress, the elderly professor living in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthplace is having a tough time separating it out from other units for historical protection. “[Dick] McDermott — in hospice with terminal lung cancer — is thinking of ways to continue Fitzgerald’s legacy. He thought about donating the condo in a multi-unit building to a foundation — but the legal complications made him decide against it. ‘To have a nonprofit own it, would they sit on a board? How involved would they really be’? Plus the thought of tour groups trudging up several flights of stairs, past his neighbors, didn’t seem particularly appealing. Instead, McDermott decided to sell the condo and use $250,000 from his estate to start a new nonprofit, the Fitzgerald in Minnesota Fund. ‘In the last, somber days of my life, this wonderful thing has developed. … I want to keep it alive.’ “