Matt McKinney of the Strib reports, “Gun incidents rose 40 percent in Minneapolis last year, the first significant jump in years following a long-term downward trend in gun-related cases. The gun incidents in the city report being released Wednesday include people being shot or shot at, reports of gunshot wounds or a gun used in a crime. Two top law enforcement officials said it’s too soon to say whether the report’s findings signaled the beginning of something new in crime, and pointed instead to the long-term decline.” Violent crime numbers were up 7 percent from 2011 to 2013, but still tracking close to 10-year lows.
Also in hi-tech: warrants … generally a solid democratic concept. Says the Strib’s Abby Simons, “A measure requiring cops to get a warrant before using devices to track cell phones overwhelmingly passed the Minnesota Senate 56-1 Tuesday. Sen. Branden Petersen’s bill was authored in response to concern about ‘cellular exploitation devices’ marketed under names like the Kingfish and Stingray, which mimic local phone towers to capture data and location information of cellular phones in a given area. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has one; so does the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.” However, the bill was negotiated down from search warrants to tracking warrants that follow you around.
It could come down to docs v. cops. The Forum News Service says, “Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, one of the groups that support access to medical marijuana, unveiled the list of doctors and clergy during a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol. No physicians attended the news conference, however. … Neil Lynch of the Republican Liberty Caucus expressed his group’s support for the bill. … But Lynch said there ‘are still some struggles’ among Republicans on the issue.”
Speaking of doctors … . Maya Beckstrom and Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress report, “While Allina Health System plans to suspend water births — underwater deliveries that proponents say help women better cope with labor pain — no other Twin Cities hospitals report they plan to follow suit. Allina announced on its website last week that it would stop allowing women to deliver in water tubs at all its sites … . The decision follows an opinion that water births should be considered experimental, issued this month by two physician groups … .” 31,000 births later and it’s still “experimental?”
Go north (metro), young man. The Strib’s Eric Roper reports central-city officials are griping about revised Met Council forecasts showing metro-edge suburbs with more growth. Developers lobbied for higher population forecasts because there’s still land to build out there; city folks say all the trends are pushing in. There’s cash at stake, as you may expect. One interesting note: the Council says the metro highway system is essentially built, and now we get to maintain. Also, cool interactive graphic showing big north metro growth.
The broadband expansion idea might possibly get somewhere … except the Senate is silent. Christopher Magan of the PiPress writes, “Minnesota needs to make a substantial investment in broadband Internet infrastructure if students and businesses in rural areas are going to compete with the rest of the nation, DFL lawmakers said Tuesday. Speaker Paul Thissen said $25 million in the House’s supplemental spending bill would be a down payment on $100 million worth of Internet infrastructure that is needed to better connect Minnesotans.” The money is not in the Senate bill.
Meanwhile, many Minneapolis residents can buy 1-gig Internet … now. The Strib’s Steve Alexander says USI Wireless — which has a lucrative city of Minneapolis wi-fi contract — will soon offer 1-gigabyte fibre-optic service to several thousand city households. It’s a rich $99-a-month, but the broadband duopoly, Comcast and CenturyLink, don’t offer it. Competition is good, and the state of the market seems to require municipalities help.
Cat monitoring … . The AP says, “As part of the agreement filed in Ramsey County, The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone must hire an outside monitor for the next two years to improve the way it does business. The agreement filed in court said there was ‘extensive use’ of the sanctuary’s credit cards ‘for personal expenses’ by [executive director Tammy] Thies, the Star Tribune reported. Among the items Thies acknowledged spending donated money on included women’s underwear, movies, hair removal products and two books by comedian Chelsea Handler.”
Protecting grandma’s money is long overdue … . Says Tom Webb of the PiPress, “Hoping to stop scammers who prey on the elderly, Minnesota law enforcement officials Tuesday highlighted new rules that encourage financial-services workers to flag and question suspicious transactions, without running afoul of strict bank-privacy laws. ‘When a senior comes in and tries to get a $10,000 advance on a credit card, or tries to wire money to a foreign country’, it’s now plainly OK for a teller to report the transaction and for bank officials to check with family members, said Will Phillips, AARP’s Minnesota state director.”
Really? Bullying as a political rallying cry? Catharine Richert of MPR says, “Democrats say they’re focusing on the [new anti-bullying law] to underscore their party’s priorities, while Republicans are focusing on the law to fire-up the party faithful and to highlight their conservative credentials. … Republicans argue it is an unfunded example of government overreach. They also say that the new law threatens religious freedom, for instance if a student who opposes homosexuality based on his faith is accused of bullying.” Never let a good wedge opportunity go unexploited.
With ample taxpayer support … . Kim McGuire of the Strib tells us, “Edina High School is the best in Minnesota, according to U.S. News and World Report. On Tuesday, the publication released its 2014 rankings of American high schools, identifying the best based on Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate exams and other criteria. In Minnesota, Mahtomedi and Houston High Schools were ranked second and third.”