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‘No go’ on McKinley for Lonnie Dupre

Opera “Doubt”a complex undertaking; snow, ice cause lots of accidents; school choice options; Milwaukee sheriff issues “call to arms”; and more.

Well, there’s always another January. Beth Bragg of the Anchorage Daily News reports: “A day that dawned with the possibility of a rare wintertime summit of Mount McKinley instead became the day a Minnesota adventurer abandoned his attempt to reach the top of North America’s tallest peak for the third straight year. After spending Saturday at 17,200 feet trying to stay warm in a snowcave where the temperature hit minus-35, Lonnie Dupre on Sunday told his support crew he feared continued exposure to such cold could be deadly. He began his descent early Sunday morning, according to a press release from project coordinator Stevie Anna Plummer.”

Reviewing “Doubt” the opera, Rob Hubbard says in the PiPress: “Conductor Christopher Franklin and the Minnesota Opera Orchestra do an outstanding job with [Douglas] Cuomo’s complex music, but it may prove challenging for some audience members. His melodies take many an unpredictable turn, single syllables sail in on a plethora of notes, and seemingly inconsequential phrases are repeated for evident emphasis, while others of relative importance are sung simultaneously and swept away in swells of sound. Chalk some of that up to operatic inexperience, for this is Cuomo’s debut with the form. But he’s fortunate to have his music brought to life by a cast this talented.”

It may be faulty memory, but I think we handled a little snow better in the days of yore. Reg Chapman at WCCO-TV reports: “According to the Minnesota State Patrol, between noon and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, there were 367 reported crashes, including 48 with non-life threatening injuries. Another 299 vehicles went off the roads or spun out. … a tanker truck full of propane gas, [rolled] over on northbound Interstate 35W. It slid into the ditch in Columbus, just south of the 35W/35E split. ‘No injuries and no danger to the public, no leak of the propane or anything like that,’ [MnDOT’s Kent] Barnard said. It took crews hours to figure out how to get the truck right side up.”

In a Strib commentary, Professor Patrick Wolf places blame for declining opportunities for school choice at the feet of Gov. Dayton: “In my research, I have found that parental school choice tends to produce better outcomes for students and parents. Both public charter schools and private-school choice, through school vouchers or tax-credit scholarships, increase high school graduation rates. School-choice programs also tend to improve student achievement somewhat, or at least keep pace with traditional public schools. … The main blemish in the school-choice landscape in Minnesota is the lack of support for low-income students who want to attend private schools. Low-income, inner-city and minority students are exactly the kinds of children most helped by private-school-choice programs.”

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What do we have here? Another firearms expert enjoying his constitutional freedoms? WCCO-TV says: “Plymouth Police say a man is in the hospital after he accidentally shot himself inside a Rainbow Foods Sunday afternoon. … The man suffered a non-life threatening injury to his lower leg. Police are not sure how the gun discharged. There is no indication that this is anything other than an accident. No one else was injured. Police say the man has a conceal and carry permit.”

Speaking of arming up. Did you catch the latest on Milwaukee’s top cop? Three Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporters write: “Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. set off alarm bells Friday with a radio spot some view as a call for citizens to arm themselves. In the radio ad, Clarke tells residents personal safety isn’t a spectator sport anymore, and that ‘I need you in the game.’ ‘With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,’ Clarke intones. ‘You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back.’ Clarke urges listeners to take a firearm safety course and handle a firearm ‘so you can defend yourself until we get there.’ … Clarke has served as lightning rod before, most recently when he called for schools to arm teachers after the Newtown, Conn., massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school. News of the sheriff’s gun ad quickly generated feedback. Jodie Tabak, Mayor Tom Barrett’s spokeswoman, released this statement: ‘Apparently, Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie.’

MPR’s Rupa Shenoy has a story about a tax season scam: “T]he nonprofit AccountAbility Minnesota is reminding people to beware of predatory tax products. Filers should be wary of tax preparers offering a product called ‘refund anticipation checks,’ said Tracy Fischman, the group’s executive director. ‘These refund anticipation checks only are temporary bank accounts,’ she said. ‘They don’t deliver refunds any faster than the IRS can and yet they cost $30 to $35 just for that one piece.’ ”

Talk about an episode you will never live down … Dave Chanen of the Strib says: “A drunken driver who injured a state trooper assisting in a car accident in Bloomington late Saturday remained in jail Sunday. The driver, a 39-year-old man from Richfield, apparently didn’t notice the flashing lights on emergency responders’ vehicles and flares on the road before he sideswiped one squad and rear-ended a second. The troopers were involved in a rollover accident about 10:45 p.m. Saturday on the ramp from westbound Interstate Hwy. 494 to northbound Interstate Hwy. 35. The ramp was closed. … The driver had a 20-year-old passenger and two children, ages 11 and 14. Nobody was seriously injured. The driver was arrested on suspicion of felony criminal vehicular operation. … Troopers noticed the man’s slurred speech and that he had trouble keeping his balance. The driver has an extensive criminal history, including numerous drug and driving convictions and tickets, and a refusal to take a blood alcohol test.”

Edina parents are bringing the heat to school officials talking about starting class before Labor Day. Says Kelly Smith of the Strib: “More than 250 parents have signed a petition, and more than 100 e-mails — mostly against starting in August — have been sent to the school district. Some parents are even appealing to state legislators. ‘For me, it’s just tradition; I’ve never in my whole life gone to school before Labor Day. It’s just summer,’ said Joanne Bergstedt, a parent who contacted state legislators for help. ‘I feel like the school board hasn’t listened when it feels like a large portion of parents in Edina oppose it.’ “