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Documents suggest archdiocese interfered in Wehmeyer case

Wildcat Sanctuary donors dwindling; Minnesotans brace for Obamacare “tweak”; police close priest’s check-cashing case; Ag concerned about 70,000 private wells; and more.

What comes after “rock bottom” …? The Strib’s Tony Kennedy has the latest head-shaker/slapper out of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: “Law enforcement documents would later show that by the time police got to Blessed Sacrament, [Rev. Curtis] Wehmeyer had removed his camper from church property, [vicar general Rev. Kevin] McDonough had taken Wehmeyer’s work computer to the chancery and church officials had interviewed the child who first came forward to allege abuse. The church’s handling of Wehmeyer’s case infuriated police, interfered with evidence and disrupted the early phase of the criminal investigation, according to law enforcement documents, a parish employee and St. Paul police Cmdr. Mary Nash. … When police searched Wehmeyer’s church residence after his arrest, they found an IBM ThinkPad computer in a closet. Police discovered that it belonged to Wehmeyer and was loaded with child porn.”

Inevitably … Kevin Giles of the Strib reports: “Several longtime donors who have invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours in Minnesota’s only certified refuge for large wildcats have withdrawn their support over suspicions of financial mismanagement. Their distrust of money handling and staff relations at the Wildcat Sanctuary began with a Minneapolis law firm’s internal investigation this summer that raised serious questions about sanctuary accounting practices, including an alleged ‘commingling’ of donor money with personal spending. Several departures from the board of directors, and the recent dismissal of employees and unpaid interns, fueled a wave of donor complaints. ‘I’m absolutely outraged at what has taken place,’ said Satia Pacotti of Burnsville.”

MPR’s Catharine Richert has one of the local stories featuring Minnesotans trying to figure out how Thursday’s “tweak” offered by President Obama affects them: “Gloria Keogh of Burnsville, Minn., was among the more than 140,000 Minnesotans who learned earlier this year that her plan was going to cost more in 2014. While Keogh has never supported the health care law, she is pleased with Obama’s announcement. ‘Who wants to pay more? Not too many people,’ she said. Nevertheless, there’s still no guarantee Keogh will be able to keep that plan. Obama’s plan leaves it up to insurers and state regulators to decide whether these plans should remain available. Officials with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which regulates insurance policies, aren’t saying how they plan to handle the situation, but earlier this week, Gov. Mark Dayton said people should be able to keep their plans.”

Here’s a controversy over a Catholic priest that doesn’t involve sex and a cover-up … Laura Yuen of MPR reports: “The Maplewood Police Department recently closed an investigation into the Rev. Rodger Bauman, an Oakdale priest who accepted a $120,000 check from a 99-year-old former parishioner. Bauman has maintained all along that the money was a gift. He eventually returned it. No charges were ever filed. But the circumstances surrounding the money raised concerns among the man’s caregivers, the woman serving as his power of attorney and a police detective, who investigated Bauman on suspicion of swindling a vulnerable adult.”

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The Glean70,000 is … a lot. Josephine Marcotty of the Strib says: “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture wants to test 70,000 private wells throughout the state’s farming regions as part of an ambitious but controversial plan to measure and fix nitrogen contamination in drinking water. The initiative reflects urgent concerns about Minnesota’s groundwater, which in some areas shows rising levels of pollution from the tons of fertilizer and other forms of nitrogen applied each year across the southern two-thirds of the state. A 2011 survey found that 62 percent of the monitoring wells in central Minnesota, where groundwater is most susceptible, showed excessive contamination.”

The Grand Forks Herald has a story saying the guy killed by an elderly homeowner in Pine County was wreaking havoc in Grand Forks four years ago: “A suspect shot to death in an alleged home invasion Thursday in northeast Minnesota is believed to be the same person who was convicted in 2009 of a series of Grand Forks robberies in which at least one store clerk was threatened with a golf club. The Pine County Sheriff’s Department identified the man as 23-year-old Gypsy Watts, 23, Pine City, Minn. Watts was 19 in 2009 when he was sentenced in Grand Forks to four years in jail for a series of convenience store robberies.”

Speaking of gun play … Andy Rathbun of the PiPress writes: “Several charges have been filed against a Forest Lake, Minn., man who reportedly was shot with his own gun after bringing it to a western Wisconsin cabin and confronting a couple. Ronald D. Aune, 53, was charged Wednesday in Burnett County Circuit Court with kidnapping, false imprisonment and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety — all felonies … . When asked what motivated Aune to come to the cabin, [Christine] Johnson said, ‘Because he’s upset I’m with Ed [Frank]’. She told investigators Aune had been physically abusive in the past and the pair had broken up earlier in the year. Breath tests showed Frank and Johnson had been drinking that night, and a friend of Aune’s reported Aune had been drinking as well.” Goes without saying …

Tim Nelson at MPR has a piece on “mementos” from the Metrodome: “Some of the most important history is already gone. When the Twins left for Target Field in 2009, they took their home plate, a pitching rubber and the outfield seat where Puckett’s homer landed. The Minnesota Historical Society has been collecting memories virtually since the place opened in 1983. ‘Probably the most important World Series piece we have from the ’87 series is the Frankie ‘Sweet Music’ Viola banner that hung over the right field bleachers,’ said Adam Scher, a curator for the society.” So will the Historical society get the urinal troughs from the men’s rooms?

Also from Nelsonanother icon biting the dust: “The staff at the Heritage Preservation Commission in Minneapolis has signed off on the demolition of the Star Tribune building to make way for a Downtown East park planned near the new Vikings stadium. … The city is asking to keep some of the history, though. The Heritage Preservation Commission has two conditions for tearing the place down, including saving a half-dozen ‘seals’ representing the industries of the Upper Midwest:

  • At the developer’s expense, the developer shall ensure the six stone medallions are safely removed, stored, and incorporated into the proposed park onsite, along with an interpretive plaque describing the history of the site.

  • The developer shall commission a historian who meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards in History to document the history of the Star Tribune and its previously purchased newspapers, for distribution to CPED [Community Planning and Economic Development] and local historical organizations, and possible publication in popular and/or scholarly journals.”

    How about a long Vietnam Memorial-like wall with every editorial, Sid Hartman column and heavily-moderated news story hyping the new stadium?