On sex offender reform, Minnesota lawmakers defy courts

“Risk”? Not in the job description. Abby Simons of the Strib says, “The pressure to overhaul a state sex offender treatment program that has been called ‘clearly broken’ by a federal judge is mounting daily, but the Legislature may not act in time to prevent court intervention. With just weeks to go in the session, Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators are blaming one another for failing to address the problems identified by Judge Donovan Frank. In February, Frank called on state lawmakers to take immediate action or face a court-ordered remedy. But little has happened since then.”

Eleven intersections of pain in St. PaulJames Walsh of the Strib says, “On Monday, crews blocked off Vandalia Street at University Avenue to begin the unexpected task of tearing up and replacing damaged concrete panels at 11 intersections along the 11-mile [Central Corridor LRT] route. The work will disrupt and reroute traffic from April 14 through mid-May, according to the Metropolitan Council. This was not how this project was supposed to proceed, just 59 days from its scheduled June 14 grand opening. As a result, Walsh Construction of Chicago — and not the Met Council or taxpayers — is footing the bill, said Laura Baenen, a spokeswoman for the Central Light Rail Corridor project. ‘The work was faulty,’ Baenen said Monday.”

“Several brand-new homes can be seen up and down the block from the meth house’s front lawn.” That’s just one little Matt McKinney nugget on a meth lab discovered in Minneapolis’s Fulton neighborhood, the epicenter of the recent teardown controversy. Seems luxe potential doesn’t deter our own Walter Whites from exploiting the existing housing stock. “Neighbors on Abbott Avenue reported seeing late-night visitors to the house with the junk-filled back yard,” the Strib’s McKinney notes.

Forget “plastics” … it’s “drones” these days. Adam Belz of the Strib says, “Northwest Minnesotans created the snowmobile industry. Now leaders in the region want to join forces with North Dakota to pioneer the commercial use of drones throughout the nation’s airspace. … Companies from Northrop Grumman to farm cooperative CHS Inc. are on the guest list for the meetings in Thief River Falls. The Minnesota Assocation of Wheat Growers, Minnesota Department of Transportation, University of Minnesota and several other colleges and organizations also plan to be there.”

Is gay marriage still the hottest of electoral hot buttons? KSTP-TV packages its latest poll results that way, which shows 47 percent of Minnesotans support the new law allowing gay marriage, while 45 percent oppose. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points, so this one could go either way. See you in November?

MnSCU still has credit transfer problems. Alex Friedrich at MPR says, “Changes to Minnesota’s credit-transfer process in recent years haven’t done enough to make switching colleges easy, say students who are frustrated with the process. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has worked out numerous transfer agreements among campuses, rolled out online planning tools for students and improved access to transfer information. But too often, students say, they take classes at one campus only to find later that their new campus won’t grant them the academic credit they expected — forcing them to retake those classes at the new school. The problem lingers 20 years after the MnSCU system emerged — in part to make transfers easier.”

In the realm of great understatements … . MPR reports, “Concentrated power, poor oversight and little communication with the faithful are among the serious shortcomings inside the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that opened the door ‘for some priests to harm children’, a panel ordered by the archbishop said Monday. ‘Behavioral warning signs were minimized or inappropriately rationalized’, the task force said, adding the archdiocese also has a ‘confusing and inadequate’ system to report complaints of sexual abuse of children.” You can see the panel’s recommendations here.

The GleanDropping the hammer … . The AP says, “A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in a synthetic drug conspiracy case in North Dakota. Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers on Monday announced the sentence against 24-year-old Casey Stevens Rosen. … U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson also ordered Rosen to forfeit $100,000 and serve five years of supervised release.” Someone needs to explain sentencing guidelines to me.

Last year Strib cartoonist Steve Sack took home the big prize; this year’s it’s a friend of his and Minnesota Daily alum winning the Pulitzer. The AP says, “Kevin Siers has continued a tradition of Pulitzer Prizes for cartoonists at the Charlotte Observer. Siers, a Minnesota native, won a Pulitzer on Monday for his series of editorial cartoons that poked fun at both ends of the political spectrum … Siers grew up on Minnesota’s Iron Range. He went to work in the taconite mines, and during a layoff, he drew cartoons that helped the weekly Biwabik Times win a Minnesota Press Association award.”

The Strib … on “rowdy” sports fans … . “University and police officials said only five of the 19 people arrested Saturday were U students, while all nine arrested Thursday were students. The Saturday numbers are telling. The overwhelming majority of U students did the right thing and stayed away from the disturbance. … a kind of culture or tradition about postgame behavior has developed in which students are almost supposed to stage some kind of public event to prove how much they care about a team.” Where do those damn kids get the idea that sports is the highest priority and crowning glory of our culture?

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/15/2014 - 07:26 am.

    Of Course the Legislature Won’t Touch the Sex Offender Program

    The Republicans have no clue about how to solve problems and are not inclined to produce legislative solutions of any kind (unless it will cut taxes for their wealthiest friends and hand them lucrative “privatized” government contracts or take away the right to vote from those who aren’t likely to vote Republican).

    The Democrats, even if they were to create the best possible new system for dealing with sex offenders would still be attaching a giant target to their own backs, a target which would pop up the first time a person released under their new program committed some a sex-related crime. When that inevitably happened, the Republicans would seek to paint the entire Democratic Party and all Democratic politicians as being slavering perverts seeking only to make the world safe for perverts like themselves.

    Therefore, the courts are the only venue under which a new program can and will be created.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/15/2014 - 10:54 am.

      Greg, that’s a little unfair

      Both sides are behaving like cowards. If there was any legislative responsiblity, both sides would join together to at least admit something needs to be done. Just another symptom of why the public hates politicians on either side of the aisle.

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/15/2014 - 12:31 pm.

        So What Would YOU Do

        If you were in the position to do something?

        Would you sacrifice your ability to accomplish anything in the future (because no matter what the Democrats did on this issue I can GUARANTEE that the Republicans would make sure it came back to haunt them in major ways), especially when the courts are clearly going to step in and address the problem if you don’t?

        I smell a serious case of false equivalency, here. I always hate it when folks resort to name calling, “cowards,” for instance, without going to the trouble of addressing the issues at hand or offering solutions for those issues.

        There is a distinctly definable difference between fearful cowardice and necessary pragmatism.

        • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/15/2014 - 03:59 pm.

          Greg, the solution is probably repulsive

          But that’s not my issue. You clearly paint the two parties with white hats and black hats. What I’d like is for both parties to educvate the public by telling them the Court’s interpretation of the Consitution is going to force the Legislature (not Dems or GOP’ers, but Legislators) to do some unpleasant things. Then both sides can equally share the blame and the problem actually gets addressed.

          • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/15/2014 - 09:52 pm.

            Sorry, But You Haven’t Been Observing the Behavior Today’s GOP

            One of the things their “base” currently finds most offensive is any appearance of cooperation with Democrats or “liberals.”

            They will NEVER do anything which gives the appearance of expressing disagreement with their “base,” because that base can turn on a Republican politician in the twinkling of an eye.

            It is not possible for our Republican friends to educate their base, especially on this issue where their “base” mostly thinks suspected sex offenders should all just be locked up forever, and any politician who appeared to disagree would lose support very quickly. .

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