Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Justice Department will investigate city’s ‘no’ to mosque

Mankato football coach gets support; Kline, Obermueller debate; Wells Fargo expanding in “The Park”; Sandy affecting MSP airport; and more.

The feds are going to investigate St. Anthony’s rejection of a mosque. The AP reports: “The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a formal civil rights investigation into the city of St. Anthony’s decision to reject a planned mosque. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised the DOJ’s decision Monday. St. Anthony City Council members voted 4-1 in June to turn down plans for Abu Huraira Islamic Center, prompting CAIR-MN to request an investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office conducted an initial review to see if the case had merit. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jeanne Cooney said a formal investigation was launched last week. She couldn’t discuss specifics.”

That Minnesota State football coach is getting support. Richard Meryhew of the Strib writes: “Just days before a Mankato football coach facing child pornography charges next appears in court, a professional therapist and a family pediatrician have come to his defense. In an affidavit filed Monday in Blue Earth County District Court, a professional therapist and social worker who reviewed the three cellphone videos at issue in the case against Minnesota State University, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner said that the children in the videos ‘are engaged in healthy play.’ William L. Seabloom, who viewed the images at the request of Hoffner’s attorney, also said that ‘there is nothing I can see from how the children appear that they are engaged in any physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification,’ the affidavit showed. … In another affidavit filed Monday, Lon T. Knudson, pediatrician for the Hoffner children, said he has found the children to be ‘in good health. I noted nothing of concern involving the parents’ care’ of the children.”

Brett Neely files on the MPR debate between Democrat Mike Obermueller and GOP incumbent Congressman John Kline: “The pair sparred over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Kline said Republicans will repeal the law after the elections, if they are able to. When asked how Republicans would replace the law and address issues such as health care affordability, Kline said a GOP plan would try to offer some of the features of the current law, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions. But Kline said Republicans would focus on incremental changes. … On the topic of government spending, both Kline and Obermueller agreed that some spending cuts are necessary to rein in the budget deficit. But Kline said spending cuts should b[e] the only way to try to balance the budget. Obermueller echoed Obama and national Democrats in arguing that some taxes should also rise for the wealthiest earners. Kline said a major source of the deficit is spending on programs such as Medicare and Social Security.” I guess that’s what they mean by “putting the country’s needs before ideology.”

Wells Fargo is getting big in “the Park.” According to Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib, “Wells Fargo & Co. is consolidating its suburban Twin Cities locations, shifting about 1,000 workers to expanded office space in St. Louis Park. The bank has signed a long-term lease for 477,800 square feet of office space at the Metropoint complex in St. Louis Park near the General Mills headquarters on the north side of Interstate 394. Wells Fargo is more than tripling the space it currently rents there, according to property owner BPG Properties Ltd., which announced the lease Monday.”

Article continues after advertisement

MSP is open, but Hurricane Sandy is seriously messing with flights out of here, too. Says Bill McAuliffe of the Strib: “About 100 flights into and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were cancelled Monday as Hurricane Sandy approached the East Coast. Thousands of flights were cancelled at airports around the globe, while major U.S. carriers cancelled all their flights at New York City’s three major airports. United Airlines sent three of its planes to MSP from airports to the east and parked them Sunday night ‘just to get them out of harm’s way,’ said Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan. Hogan said it will be difficult for travelers to fly east for much of the week.”

The GleanA Minnesota man survived the sinking by Sandy of that HMS Bounty replica. KARE-TV’s story says: “After an excruciating morning of not knowing whether her son was dead or alive, Nisswa resident Jo Svendsen is breathing easier. Her boy lives to sail another day. John Svendsen was the first mate on the HMS Bounty, a tall ship that sank Monday morning in turbulent waters off the outer banks of North Carolina as Hurricane Sandy roared ashore. The Coast Guard received a radio transmission from the ship that it was struggling and taking on water from 18-foot swells. By the time rescue helicopters were in the air 16 crew members aboard the HMS Bounty had abandoned ship. Coast Guard rescuers were able to pluck 14 people from the raging ocean.” That ship didn’t have enough warning to get to shore?

ABC News is redesignating Minnesota as “lean” Obama, down from “safe” Obama. Amy Walter writes: “With one week to go, states that were once considered Obama strongholds now look less solid. Republican groups are putting resources into Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Team Obama brushes off these incursions as wishful thinking by Republicans, but noticeably they are putting money and muscle into both states. Minnesota has been added to Bill Clinton’s schedule. And, Obama campaign officials admitted that they will once again start running ads in Pennsylvania. So, what is happening in Minnesota? Demographics. As our ABC/Washington Post poll has shown, Romney has a substantial lead among white men. Minnesota is one of the least diverse states in the country with 90 percent of the electorate in 2008 made of white voters.” Who said it was a post-racial world?

The money they’re blowing in Wisconsin … Scott Bauer of the AP says: “The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks remained a focus of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race for a second week, as Republican Tommy Thompson released another ad on the topic in the waning days of the campaign against Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Democrats, meanwhile, continued to question Thompson’s work in the private sector and on Monday pointed to a $125,000 stock payout he reported receiving earlier this month from a troubled medical device company. The highly negative and hard-fought race for the open seat, which could determine which party controls the Senate, has attracted nearly $50 million in spending, making it the most expensive in state history. … ads in recent days have veered in a different direction and instead focused on 9/11 and Iran. Thompson first brought up the Sept. 11 attacks last week in an ad criticizing Baldwin’s 2006 vote against a resolution to honor victims. She voted nine times for similar resolutions, but didn’t that year because of other language added praising Republican initiatives she had opposed. Relatives of 9/11 victims and first responders voiced their support for Baldwin and called on Thompson to remove the ad. Baldwin countered with her own spot accusing Thompson of profiting from the disaster after he got paid $3 million from a company that won a contract to handle health care needs of first responders.”

Better hope for a long, hard freeze. Jessica Armbruster of City Pages writes: “This upcoming season, Bloomington is getting in on the ice-castle market. Mall of America recently announced that it will be hosting an enormous, 40-foot-tall ice castle during the winter months. The structure is set to open to the public sometime in December (exact dates are dependent on our weather, of course). … While most ice castles are constructed using blocks of ice, this building will be made from over one-million icicles fused together. Fifty ice towers will be joined to create one palace, complete with throne rooms, hallways, courtyards, and archways that guests will be able to walk through and enjoy. The huge project is set to take up about an acre of space. The structure will continue to morph and grow through the duration of its existence as icicles will be added, and certain patches may melt and refreeze due to temperature fluctuations.”