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Brodkorb wants $600K, plus cost of pain and suffering

First-degree murder charges in Little Falls; House backs tuition freezes; prosecutors support private gun-sale background checks; and more.

It’s always a good news day when Michael Brodkorb is back in the headlines. Tad Vezner of the PiPress reports: “Former Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb has filed for at least $600,000 in damages, not including the cost of alleged pain and suffering, in his lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate. According to court documents filed Thursday, April 25, in federal court in Minnesota, Brodkorb is suing for past and future lost wages. He made about $90,000 annually at the Capitol. … Thursday’s filing notes the case will be ready for trial no later than June 16. Both parties noted that they preferred mediation, with Brodkorb adding that he prefers magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan as a mediator, while attorneys representing the Senate stated their preference for a private mediator.” I think he’d have a better shot with Mike Parry or Tony Sutton as mediator.

That’ll be … first-degree murder charges in the Thanksgiving shootings of two teenagers in Little Falls. Richard Meryhew of the Strib says: “The charges, spelled out in Morrison County District Court Thursday, come after a grand jury heard testimony for two days earlier this week. They reviewed evidence in the case against Byron David Smith, 64, who was charged in November with second-degree murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nick Brady, 17 as they broke into his home along the backwaters of the Mississippi River. … In Minnesota, a first-degree murder case cannot be prosecuted unless a grand jury has convened and issued a first-degree murder indictment.”

For MPR, Rupa Shenoy, with an assist from Amy Forliti at the AP, says: “One of Smith’s attorneys, Adam Johnson, said Smith was acting in self-defense and was defending his dwelling, in rural Little Falls. Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling. A statement dictated by Johnson from Smith’s defense attorneys at Meshbesher and Associates indicated they will continue arguing Smith was defending himself and his home: ‘Our defense is the same as it was before the indictment. He had every right to act as he did and we’re going to be pursuing defenses of self-defense and defense of his house.’ ” This’ll be interesting …

Let’s hope this is the final level down for this story. CBS News Crimesider reports: “Police say the mother of the stillborn baby who was accidentally wrapped in dirty linens and sent to a laundry service by a Minneapolis hospital is 14-years-old, and the father, 32, is now charged with statutory rape … She reportedly told police that the baby’s father was in the country illegally and fled to El Salvador. Police say she professed her love for him and said she wanted to marry him. … [Jose Armando] Recinos-Ramirez said the girl told him she was 18 when they first met and he only suspected she might be lying about her age after about a month.”

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St. Paul is putting out the call for volunteers. Says Frederick Melo in the PiPress: “After canceling the 27th annual citywide parks clean-up due to two late-season snow storms, the St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation is asking residents to pitch in anyway and upload their photos of cleaner parks to Facebook or Twitter. There’s even incentive. Participants in the #CleanupStPaul effort are eligible to win a four-pack of single-day admissions to any city-operated pool or aquatic facility. The annual Citywide Cleanup usually draws about 1,000 volunteers and removes about two or three tons of trash from city parks, according to Parks and Rec Director Mike Hahm.”

The GleanThe House approves tuition freezes. Jenna Ross’ Strib story says: “A budget bill that would freeze undergraduate tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities earned swift passage Thursday in the Minnesota House. Lawmakers from both parties praised the higher education funding bill and its architect, Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, for holding down tuition, banning bonuses and tightening the Legislature’s oversight of the two public systems. The bill passed 86-44. … The bill spends $2.7 billion over two years. Of the $150 million in new funding, about 80 percent goes ‘directly to students,’ Pelowski said, either for tuition freezes or grants. It requires the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to submit detailed budget reports, with spending per student and by funding source.”

What do the people who prosecute murderers know about bad guys with guns? Jim Ragsdale at the Strib says: “The push for expanding background checks to private sales, which has found a mixed reception at the Minnesota Legislature, received a boost from the state’s prosecutors. The board of directors of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association approved a resolution last week that supports background checks for sales at gun shows or over the internet. The association, representing county prosecutors throughout the state, said sales among relatives should be exempt from background checks, as should other private sales that involve no more than five guns per year.”

Well, he’s going where Mitt Romney never dared go. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour said on Thursday that he would release his tax returns, just like DFL Gov. Mark Dayton releases his. ‘I plan to do the same thing that Gov. Dayton does,’ said Honour, who announced his campaign on Wednesday. ‘I’ll follow his lead in this governor’s race.’ … He also said that he supports allowing gay couples all the rights of marriage through civil unions but does not support legalizing same sex marriage and would veto a legalization measure if it came to his desk as governor.”

Tom Scheck’s story at MPR says: “Honour is best known in Minnesota political circles for holding political fundraisers for Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 at his $10 million Orono home. Now, Honour is focusing his attention on St. Paul. He said he’s worried Dayton’s agenda is wrong for Minnesota. … Honour said he’s concerned the state budget is growing too quickly. He said he’d cut spending by targeting the compensation packages of public employees, cutting aid to cities and counties and making changes to how the state delivers subsidized health insurance.” Was he around here during The Minnesota Miracle?