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Report: Shattuck administrators were told about sex abuse

Ramsey judge removes defense attorney from trial; bill would increase solar energy in state; early-voting bill starting to move; report shows foreclosure impacts; and more.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s isn’t looking any better … . Madeleine Baran of MPR writes, “It was the sound of teenage boys screaming that jolted teacher Seth Hedderick out of his apartment one night in a dormitory at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. What he uncovered would remain a secret for years until it surfaced in criminal charges against one of the Faribault boarding school’s most beloved teachers. … an MPR News investigation has found several teachers and top administrators did know about some of Seibel’s alleged sexual behavior but failed to notify police. Hedderick and two other former teachers said they heard rumors about Seibel’s sexual interactions with students both while Seibel was employed at the school and in the months following his departure in 2003. Hedderick told two school administrators about the naked dance party, he said, but no one treated it as a criminal matter.”

It doesn’t happen often … . Joy Powell of the Strib reports, “A Ramsey County judge on Tuesday removed a defense attorney from a murder trial that was to start this week, saying he has a potential conflict of interest involving a co-defendant who was to be a star witness. Judge Roseann Nathanson granted prosecutors’ request to remove private attorney Ira Whitlock from the trial for Durron Lashawn Brown of Minneapolis. Prosecutors alleged that Minnesota attorneys’ rules of conduct preclude Whitlock from representing Brown because he once represented his co-defendant, and also because Whitlock allegedly provided that co-defendant with advice about the current murder trial. That’s a claim that Whitlock says was fabricated.”

More signs of creeping progressivity in Minnesota energy: John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune says, “Solar-powered electricity would increase Minnesota — in size and number — under legislation introduced at the Capitol and supported Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The bills would amend Minnesota’s 30-year-old law limiting solar units to 40 kilowatts and expand the limit to 1,000 kW, or 1 megawatt. The bill also would expand opportunities for small businesses to install solar projects and would set minimum solar electricity generation standards for utilities. The bills also would allow a third party to finance solar projects as an investment, a move that has spurred increased solar generation in other states. State law prohibits third-party investment.”

OJ’s ex-girlfriend will not do hard time. The AP says, “A former girlfriend of O.J. Simpson has been sentenced on a felony robbery charge in North Dakota. Christie Prody, of Moorhead, Minn., was given a suspended four-year prison term and two years of supervised probation after entering an Alford plea Monday. The plea means she did not admit guilt but acknowledged there likely was enough evidence for a jury to convict her. Prody was accused of trying to steal a woman’s purse in November at a mall in Fargo, which neighbors Moorhead. She also is accused in Minnesota’s Clay County of stealing painkillers from an elderly couple.”

The Glean “Grid instability” is at the heart of the issue. Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, “Opponents of a high-voltage power line linking Rochester, Minn., and La Crosse are appealing to federal energy regulators to stop the project. The Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, contending the project should not have been given the go-ahead. The $500 million project will cause instability on the power grid – unless a companion project between La Crosse and Madison is built, the groups say, citing a 2009 press release from Xcel Energy. Xcel is a lead developer in the CapX2020 project.”

The Strib’s Lori Sturdevant sifts through a new report on the impact of foreclosures in these parts. “The home foreclosure explosion that triggered the Great Recession caused damage that reached deep into Minnesota communities. So says a new report, ‘The Wall Street Wrecking Ball,’ released last week by a coalition of religious and grassroots social justice organizations backing foreclosure reform legislation at the Capitol this year. In Hennepin County alone, the report says, the total decline in home values due to 50,507 foreclosures from 2008 to 2012 topped $8.75 billion. Worth noting is that the loss in valuation of homes in proximity to foreclosed properties exceeds that of the foreclosed homes themselves by nearly 2 to 1. In addition, the costs to taxpayers and lost tax revenue associated with foreclosure during that four-year period cost local governments in Hennepin County nearly $525 million.”  At least we can take satisfaction that the miscreants have been publicly shamed and reduced to ruin and the outright criminals are behind bars … .

Here’s a novel notion … make voting easier. The early-voting bill is beginning to move. Tim Pugmire of MPR writes, “Under the proposed Senate omnibus elections bill, eligible Minnesota voters could begin casting their ballots 15 days before Election Day. The new early voting window would close on the Friday before the election. The sweeping bill also would allow more people to vote by absentee ballot without having to state a reason why they can’t vote in person at their neighborhood polling place on Election Day. So far, however, the proposed election chances have yet to receive any Republican support, which could be the key to their becoming law.”

Get the message to ‘em while their popcorn is still warm … . Laura Yuen of MPR writes, “In education circles, we’re hearing more about Minnesota’s inconvenient truth — that poor kids and students of color are not achieving in school at the levels they should be. But the Minneapolis Foundation thinks if more Minnesotans knew that the state has some of the highest educational disparities in the country, they’d be shocked. ‘Somehow the information about the achievement gap is not penetrating to the public,’ Sandy Vargas, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in an interview Monday. That’s why her group is launching a public-awareness campaign to make sure more people get the memo. A movie trailer that will run in theaters this month, voiced by Twin Cities vocalist and actor T Mychael Rambo, makes the economic argument for why Minnesota’s educational gaps across race and class are everyone’s problem.”

Telecommuting may be most problematic for panicked organizations. Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the PiPress writes, “A marketing professional at the Fast Horse marketing agency, [Mike] Keliher can choose his work venue day to day. So can his co-workers at a company with a liberal telecommuting policy. … perhaps the highest profile experiment with the concept was Best Buy’s Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, for corporate workers out of the retailer’s Richfield headquarters. That program is being phased out. Best Buy, like Yahoo, has been facing major challenges, a reason both companies altered their stance on telecommuting. … Yahoo’s Meyer has her defenders. Among them is Matthew Dornquast, chief executive of Code 42 Software, a data-backup specialist in Minneapolis. He is ‘vehemently opposed to working at home.’ … Emails and instant messages are notoriously easy to misconstrue or misinterpret, Dornquast said. Such information exchanges are intolerably inefficient, he said.” May I suggest … a telephone?