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2 of 5 children in submerged car die

Revenue up in Minnesota towns; GOP eyes 8th District; Luger named state’s U.S. attorney; St. Paul’s “hipster heaven” in photos; abuse case alleged in Crookston diocese; and more.

MPR’s coverage of that accident involving a young mother and five small children says: “Two of the five young children riding in a car that veered off a highway ramp and into a pond have died. The Minnesota State Patrol confirmed that Zenavia Rennie, 5, died of her injuries at Hennepin County Medical Center Thursday night. A lawyer working with the family said Alarious Coleman-Guerrido, 7, also has died. The Minnesota State Patrol said a small sedan carrying the children and a driver left the roadway at highways 100 and 7 just after 6 a.m. and entered the pond at the northeast corner of the intersection. The children were pulled from the water in a rescue effort that lasted 45 minutes, according to the State Patrol. St. Louis Park fire officials say all five children were “unresponsive” when they were pulled from of the 1998 Pontiac Grand Am that veered into the pond.”

A not so bad year, revenue-wise for Minnesota “towns.” Abby Simons of the Strib says: “According to the Minnesota State Demographer:
• There were 1,784 towns in Minnesota last year, compared to 853 cities and 87 counties.
• The 919,051 residents of towns make up about 17.5 percent of the state’s population.
• Minnesota’s town populations range from 11,089 in White Bear in Ramsey County to just five residents in Hangaard, in Clearwater County.
• Populations of 300 or less make up 52 percent of Minnesota towns.
According to State Auditor Rebecca Otto’s report: Minnesota towns made $279.3 million last year, a 3.1 percent increase over the total revenues reported in 2011. The jump is likely understated since the number of towns that failed to report last year (176) is double that of 2011 (86). Analysis of just the towns that reported both years shows a 7.2 percent increase in revenue.”

The national GOP believes it has a good shot in the 8th District. Corey Mitchell’s Strib story says: “National Republicans are homing in on Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s seat in northern Minnesota. On Thursday, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Nolan’s challenger, Stewart Mills III, to the lowest level of its ‘Young Guns’ program, which lends help to GOP candidates. Mills was one of 36 House hopefuls named to the ‘On the Radar’ list. If Mills reaches the next step, he would become a ‘Contender.’  The most promising candidates are tagged as ‘Young Guns.’ As candidates ascend the ranks, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC and other members of Congress. Mills already outraised Nolan by nearly $100,000 during the last fundraising quarter.”

The same day as the historic “nuclear option” was deployed, local attorney Andy Luger was officially named the state’s new U.S. attorney. Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “President Obama on Thursday nominated Twin Cities attorney Andrew Luger to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, replacing B. Todd Jones, whom the president appointed to head the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Unlike Jones, Luger will not likely have to face the threat of filibuster, which Senate Democrats voted to limit in a historic move earlier in the day. … Luger is currently a partner at the Greene Espel law firm and has been selected as one of Minnesota’s Top 100 ‘Super Lawyers’ for the past ten years. He has been listed as one of the ‘Best Lawyers in America’ for the past four years.”

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“Several”!? Shelby Capacio at KMSP-TV reports: “A 36-year-old Stillwater man has been charged with felony sex charges stemming from 2012, when he served as a teacher at a high school in Grantsburg, Wis. Washington County Attorney Pete Orputt announced Thursday that Robert Koenen was charged by warrant with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after he was accused developing sexual relationships involving several female students between the ages of 16 and 18. If convicted on both charges, Koenen faces maximum penalties of 30 years in prison, fines of $60,000 or both. According to charging documents, Koenen developed relationships with female students in person, online and by text, and at least two of those relationships culminated in sexual intercourse in Stillwater, Minn.” When did the guy find time to correct papers?

The GleanI don’t think Brooklyn is all that worried … MPR photographer Nikki Tundel headed down to the 55101 “hipster” heaven in St. Paul (i.e., out MPR’s front door) and asked the locals what they thought of their status. ” ‘Ha! What do you mean?’ That was the first reaction of Pino Lipari, the namesake of Pino’s Pizza in St. Paul, Minn. ‘But I’ll tell ya, it’s on the blow up. There are crazy arts here. Every homey I got is an artist.’ “

Good piece by MPR’s Dave Peters on Internet access in Cook County (that’s the one way up the North Shore): “On Wednesday, I noted that nearly 75 percent of Minnesota households now have Internet access at speeds that reach the state’s goals, yet three Minnesota counties still have no access at those speeds. One of those is Cook County, the northeastern Minnesota recipient of federal stimulus dollars to make fiber available to all residents. So I called Joe Buttweiler, director of membership services at Arrowhead Electrical Cooperative, to see how they were doing. One big milestone passed, he said. Last month, Arrowhead celebrated getting its headquarters wired up in Lutsen by holding an open house. More than 300 people showed up. … Since then it’s not uncommon to see people sitting in the parking lot at odd hours just to use the high-speed service on their laptops or tablets, he added.”

And … the latest Catholic sex abuse case … Dan Gunderson of MPR says: “A lawsuit filed Thursday against the Catholic diocese of Crookston, Minn., and a Catholic missionary organization alleges sexual abuse of children by a priest. The Rev. James Vincent Fitzgerald was transferred to St. Anne’s Parish on the White Earth Reservation in 1984 and soon after abused an eight- or nine-year-old boy, according to the lawsuit. Fitzgerald died in 2009. The defendants knew about a pattern of abuse and failed to stop it, attorney Jeff Anderson said. … The suit seeks more than $50,000. It also asks the court to order the Crookston diocese to release a list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of children. Fitzgerald was never accused of, or investigated for, any allegations of misconduct during his time at the diocese, Crookston Diocese Vicar General David Baumgartner said in a statement.