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More national money coming in for next gay-marriage fight

Moose die-off mystery; charges filed in data privacy case; e-pull-tab revenue still falling short; writer Gail Frazer dies; Gertens growing; “hoarder” task force; and more.

National money for the next gay marriage fight is on its way. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “New York-based Freedom to Marry plans to pump cash into this year’s Minnesota legislative fight to legalize gay marriage. The national group, which donated more than $700,000 into the successful campaign to oppose last year’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, said on Thursday that it hoped to raise $2 million to spread amongst state’s debating marriage laws. It said it planned to spread $800,000 among five states, including Minnesota, to wage the fight.”

Sam Cook, the Duluth News Tribune’s outdoors guy, adds this to the story of Minnesota moose die-off: “Biologists don’t know exactly what’s killing Minnesota’s moose. While climate change is considered a factor, moose also die from disease, parasites and predation. But in recent studies, the cause of moose mortality is listed as unknown in about 75 percent of research cases. The decline of Minnesota’s moose is well-documented. In December, the moose was added to the state’s endangered species list as a ‘species of concern.’ If the accelerated decline continues, little more than a remnant population of moose might remain even before 2020, said the DNR’s Steve Merchant, wildlife program manager in St. Paul.”

Not actually related, but … The AP says: “Prosecutors have charged a former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources official accused of illegally accessing drivers’ license data on thousands of residents. John A. Hunt of Woodbury is charged with six counts, including misconduct by a public employee and unauthorized computer access. The charges are misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. Investigators say 90 percent of the people whose privacy was violated were women, including politicians, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, reporters and DNR employees.” Sounds like the guy’d be better off joining

This is going to be as regular a check-in as the monthly jobs numbers. Tim Nelson of MPR says: “Minnesota’s roll out of electronic pull tabs continues to fall short of projections. After a strong debut in a handful of bars in September, the expansion of the games has been slow, and the games in bars aren’t drawing the crowds backers had hoped. Now, calls for change are starting at the Capitol. … the machines out there already aren’t making the kind of revenue the state had hoped. The projection had gamblers betting almost $1,400 a day per location. The games made that number for the first three weeks, after which the number dropped to an average of $474 per site in the middle of January.”

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Local writer Gail Frazer has died. Mary Ann Grossmann of the PiPress writes: “Frazer, whose pen name was Margaret Frazer, wrote 17 medieval mysteries about amateur sleuth Sister Frevisse, a nun at the convent of St. Frideswide in Oxfordshire, England, in the 1400s. A seven-book spinoff of that series featured Joliffe, head of a band of roving actors. Her last book, ‘Circle of Witches,’ is a Gothic romance published in 2012.”

Gertens is getting even bigger. Mary Divine of the PiPress says: “The family-owned garden center, based in Inver Grove Heights, has bought Buell’s Landscape and Design Center in south Washington County. Owner Lewis Gerten said his company will use the 80 acres of land in Denmark Township to grow nursery stock, shrubs and evergreens and will reopen a retail center on the site in a few years. The purchase of the Buell’s property and greenhouses ‘just fell into our lap,’ Gerten said Thursday, Feb. 7. A local real estate agent called to say Buell’s was ready to sell; Gertens needed more land for growing.”

The GleanWho says you can’t get bipartisan action anymore? You can when it’s a crisis … Kevin Diaz of the Strib tells us: “Minnesotans from both parties in Congress are leading a new fight to undo a multibillion-dollar medical device tax levied under President Obama’s health care overhaul, signaling a growing urgency for an industry that includes hundreds of companies in the state. … political analysts give the repeal measure a slim chance of survival. Eliminating the medical device tax would blow a $30 billion hole over the next decade.”

I’m a “collector,” not a “hoarder.” WCCO-TV says: “A new task force in Minnesota is aiming to help people who cannot part with their belongings. Hoarding has shot into the spotlight in recent years, especially because of shows that air on cable networks. An estimated 15 million people across the country struggle with hoarding. A new state task force has been created to help the estimated 10,000 Minnesotans who are affected by hoarding, and their families.” Put down the phone, dear.

Oh, boy … The AP story says: “A Minneapolis police officer has been arrested in the alleged sexual abuse of a child. The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office arrested the 32-year-old Andover man Wednesday and booked him on a possible charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with someone under age 13. He was still in custody Thursday and hadn’t been formally charged.  Sheriff’s officials say authorities in Brooklyn Center contacted them after they learned an Andover man had used social media to send inappropriate messages to a girl. Authorities say the investigation identified multiple possible victims. The allegations include sexual contact with penetration.”