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St. Paul teachers seek two-year salary boost

New law could mean more suits for Catholic entities; Wolves land Muhammad, Dieng; new Seventh Street entry into downtown planned; state lakes only now warming to swimming temperature; and more.

Contract talks between St. Paul schools and teachers have begun, reports Anthony Lonetree of the Star Tribune.  The district is looking for teachers to adopt an alternative pay proposal, while teachers want an increase in the traditional pay structure and to eliminate standardized tests. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers, which represents 3,300 teachers, is seeking wage-and-benefit increases that could total $23.7 million over two years, the district said. The district, however, is pursuing an altered version of Q Comp, an alternative pay program run by the state. St. Paul’s version of Q Comp focuses on professional development, teacher evaluation and career advancement components rather than performance pay. The union is also asking the district to opt out of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments because it says the tests are limited to math, reading and science and do not offer the quick feedback that come with tests designed by teachers.

Hundreds of lawsuits against Catholic entities could be on the horizon, based on the number filed in other states where laws similar to Minnesota’s new one have been enacted. The new measure allows more time to sue accused sex-abuse perpetrators and the institutions where they worked. So far, at least eight suits have been filed against Catholic entities in Minnesota, writes Rose French of the Star Tribune.  The Diocese of Duluth is a defendant in the latest lawsuit, made public Wednesday. In that case, Michael DeRoche, 55, alleges he was abused as a 9-year-old by the Rev. John Nicholson, a priest then serving in the diocese. Nicholson, now deceased, is believed to have abused about 10 children, according to DeRoche’s attorney. Other states have enacted similar laws with one- and two-year windows, but Minnesota is the first to give victims a three-year period, advocates say. More than 1,000 claims were filed in California during its one-year window in 2003, with more than 800 of those against Catholic entities.

The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t stand pat at the NBA draft. The team used its ninth overall pick to draft point guard Trey Burke from Michigan, then traded him to the Utah Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks which they used on Shabazz Muhammad, a guard/forward from UCLA, and Gorgui Dieng, a center from Louisville, writes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune. When the Detroit Pistons took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the shooting guard the Wolves wanted, they drafted Michigan’s Trey Burke with the No. 9 pick and then made the deal. Youngblood described Muhammad, 20, as “a natural scorer, very strong and can play a physical game. He loves to slash to the basket and he can shoot the three.” Gorgui Dieng, a 6-11 native of Senegal, was the Big East Conference defensive player of the year as a junior. Youngblood writes: “He averaged 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game … Dieng is a project offensively, but he is an athletic defender and a hard worker and has worked hard to develop a mid-range shot.”

The “Stadium District” in Minneapolis is getting a boost from the state as they make plans to change the Interstate 94 ramp at 5th Street so that it goes into Seventh Street instead, writes Tim Nelson of MPR. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the state Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the project Thursday. The city has been eyeing the project since 2007, but now the state is adding $6.8 million of trunk highway funding into the rebuild. It solves a problem with the new stadium. Fifth and Sixth streets would have been affected by the construction and location of the new stadium, so the only logical option is to build a new off-ramp to Seventh Street, said Minneapolis public works director Steve Kotke. The city may convert the existing Fifth Street freeway crossing to a multi-modal link between Cedar-Riverside and downtown.

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The GleanA late spring means cold water in Minnesota lakes, which are just now coming up to swimming temperature, reports Bill McAuliffe of the Strib. The Department of Natural Resources considers water below 70 degrees to be ‘cold,’ said Kara Owens, a DNR boat and water safety specialist. Lake Minnetonka, where surface water temperatures were running in the mid-80s at this time last year, crossed into the 70s Tuesday for the first time in this spring’s bi-weekly measurements. … Lake Superior’s temperature at Duluth’s Park Point on Thursday was an intimidating 53 degrees. Owens noted that the St. Croix River at Stillwater also crept above 70 degrees in recent days, but high water and heavy flows remain the more serious concern there, as well as on other regional rivers, she said. A no-wake zone has been imposed on the St. Croix from the mouth at Prescott, Wis., to Taylors Falls.”

Paul Walsh of the Strib writes that a 21-year-old who killed another man with a single punch is being held in lieu of $2 million bail and is charged with first-degree manslaughter. Tristan A. Keys, of Minneapolis, punched Lamar Wilson, 53, of Apple Valley, on April 29 at the Stop N Shop near West 35th Street and First Avenue South, according to the criminal complaint. Wilson was targeted because he was accused of being a snitch, the complaint read. Wilson went down “like a rag doll,” according to the complaint. He died the next day at Hennepin County Medical Center from what the medical examiner determined was a brain injury.

A gunman has died after a standoff with tactical officers at a home near Bemidji, the Associated Press is reporting. Officials said Thursday he was pronounced dead after being flown to a hospital in Fargo, N.D. Officers were called to the home northwest of Bemidji Wednesday evening on reports that the man was distraught, armed with a rifle and threatening to kill himself or officers. When he came out and pointed his gun at officers, a SWAT team sniper shot him. He retreated into the home but came out a short time later. Family members identified him as 34-year-old Miquell Deppa.

John Fitzgerald is subbing this week for Brian Lambert.