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Sixth victim of Accent Signage shooting dies

More details in La Crosse photo-store murders; arts education suffering; 8th District race heats up; special-ed manual downsized; and more.

A sixth victim of the Accent Signage shooting has died. At KMSP-TV, Scott Wasserman reports: “A sixth victim has died, nearly two weeks after the deadly shooting at Accent Signage in Minneapolis. Eric Rivers was in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center, but his family made the difficult choice to take him off life support Wednesday. … In a statement Thursday morning, Rivers’ family said he passed away Wednesday night: In making the decision to take her husband off life support, the wife of Eric Rivers wrote on his CaringBridge site that ‘it’s painfully evident that the damage to his brain is severe and something that no one can recover from.’ She went on to say she never thought she would have to tell her kids that Eric was not coming home, adding ‘we will allow Eric to pass with dignity and grace.’ ”

New details in the case of the guy arrested for the dual photo-store murders in La Crosse last month. The AP writes: “A Minnesota man charged with killing a father and son at their La Crosse photography store stole $16,000 in camera equipment, police said Thursday. … Surveillance video from surrounding businesses showed a man in a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack enter the shop and walk out with four bags. He climbed into a blue van and drove off. Police eventually traced the van to [Jeffrey] Lepsch’s home in Dakota, where they found 14 pieces of stolen equipment from the Petras’ shop, [Police Chief Ron] Tischer said. Lepsch ran an online camera equipment business, the chief said.”

Frankly, I had forgotten there were arts mandates … . Tim Post of MPR reports: “Minnesota has some of the highest standards for arts education in the country, but schools don’t always meet those lofty expectations. As schools work to increase student test scores in math, science and reading, arts education is often pushed aside, according to a survey to be released today by the Perpich Center for Arts Education. According to the survey, fewer than half of all middle and high schools, and only 28 percent of elementary schools offer all of the required arts, drama, music and dance classes. Even in school districts that are committed to providing arts education on par with math, science and reading, there have been subtle shifts that have affected the arts. The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district, for example, has pushed students into more English, math and science classes.”

Brett Neely of MPR says: “Ahead of filing deadline next week, Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack’s re-election campaign announced that the first-term lawmaker brought in more than $471,000 in the three months ending Sept. 30, the most Cravaack has raised in a single quarter. Cravaack’s 8th District seat is among one of the most fiercely-contested in the country and spending by both parties and outside groups has dwarfed the outlays made by Cravaack and his DFL challenger, former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.”

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The GleanStribber Jennifer Brooks adds: “A Survey USA/KSTP poll taken this week shows Nolan leading Cravaack by a margin of 46 percent to 45 percent, with a margin of error of 4.2 percent. An internal Nolan campaign poll showed Nolan leading Cravaack by a slightly wider margin of 48 to 44 percent. A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll showed the candidates tied 42 percent to 42 percent, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent.”

Brooks’ front page piece on the 8th today says: “[G]roups such as American Action Network, led by former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, will spend $626,630 on ads that don’t highlight Cravaack’s work on a single issue or even mention him by name. Instead, they just paint his challenger as ‘liberal’ and ‘radical.’ Likewise, when Nolan campaigns across the Eighth, he talks about new infrastructure projects that could get people back to work, the need to wrap up the ‘wars of choice’ abroad, his belief that tax cuts for the rich do less to help the economy than programs aimed at helping the middle class. … The interest-group ads from his side, however, train most of their fire on Cravaack, sniping at how much he spends to lease his official vehicle and how many town hall meetings he’s held. Of all the money spent on ads, more than 90 percent has been on opposition or attack ads. Less than 6 percent has been on ads supporting either candidate.”

Yeah, this might help. Megan Boldt’s PiPress story says: “A common complaint among school districts is the mounds of paperwork they have to fill out for special education. But now, Minnesota education officials have slashed the state’s annual special ed manual from 279 pages to 16 pages. ‘What this means is when teachers spend less time on paperwork, they can spend more time with students,’ Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Thursday, Oct. 11.” That is the intention, anyway.

The Zep will play in Minnesota … at a movie theater. Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib writes: “Since it’s not looking like a Led Zeppelin ‘reunion’ tour will happen anytime soon — and you might face the wrath of the Golden God if you ask about it again — the concert film from the band’s one and only performance at London’s O2 Arena in 2007 will have to suffice for now. The movie, ‘Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day,’ will be screened in theaters for two nights only across the globe on Wednesday and Thursday of next week (Oct. 17 and 18). We found four theaters in Minnesota that are selling the $15 tickets for the special screenings. … Twin Cities Zep-heads have one more good option to celebrate ‘Celebration Day’: The Cabooze will host a special ‘Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day’ concert on Oct. 20 with a large cast of local music vets, including Julius Collins (Greazy Meal), Wain McFarlane (‘Ipso Facto’), Paris Bennett (‘American Idol’), Jason Fladager (God Johnson, Big Wu) and ace sidemen Billy Thommes, Al Bergstrom, Troy Norton and Mitch Boerner. Their plan is to perform the exact same set list that was played at the 02 Arena.” The crowd of Robert Plant look-alikes is reason enough to make that show.

And Marilyn Hagerty — of last spring’s Olive Garden restaurant review — last week received a prize a lot of her snarky critics wouldn’t mind having. Erika Wolfe of City Pages reports: “Marilyn Hagerty, the Grand Forks Herald restaurant reviewer whose writeup of a local Olive Garden went viral last spring, won the prestigious Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media for lifetime achievement last week. ‘It was just overwhelming because other winners of the award were Walter Cronkite and Katie Couric,’ Hagerty told us from her home. ‘I think of myself as an average newspaperwoman. I’ve been writing for newspapers for 65 years.’ Al Neuharth himself presented the award to Hagerty, 86, during a ceremony at the University of South Dakota. Hagerty was Neuharth’s classmate back in the 1940s, and she was his first editor on the student newspaper.” Now that is log-rollin’.