The teachers’ group spearheaded by Michele Rhee is getting out of Minnesota. Kim McGuire’s Strib story says, “StudentsFirst, a controversial nationwide school reform group that has frequently clashed with teachers’ unions, is shutting down its Minnesota office. Kathy Saltzman, state director of StudentsFirst Minnesota, confirmed Wednesday that the group has decided not to maintain a paid staff in Minnesota, where it has about 29,000 members. She is currently the group’s only Minnesota-based employee.”
LRT bandwagon effect … . Says Curtis Gilbert at MPR, “A deal between Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Council over the proposed Southwest light rail line has won approval from the leaders of other cities along the line. An advisory board that includes officials from Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka, on Wednesday voted to support the agreement, although several suggested Minneapolis is receiving special treatment.”
We may be well past the point where anything new about this debacle shocks or surprises us. Still … . Chao Xiong of the Strib reports, “Documents made public Wednesday in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis show that the Rev. Joseph Wajda was allowed to continue working as a priest and in an administrative role in the church despite allegations that he abused boys. … Wajda also had the boy perform a ‘birthday spanking ritual,’ where the boy was partly or completely undressed but never physically spanked. The boy told [investigating priest Fr. Michael] O’Connell that the abuse he suffered occurred ‘hundreds of times.’”
How not to be popular in a small town … . The AP reports, “The mayor of a southern Minnesota town is accused of stealing from a veterans memorial fund. Ellendale Mayor Roger Swearingen is charged in Steele County with one gross misdemeanor and two misdemeanor counts of theft. … The complaint says Swearingen told detectives some of the money was for gas to pick up bricks for the project or for his time cleaning the memorial.”
Minneapolis cops believe they’ve solved a cold case murder. Dave Chanen of the Strib says, “Back in 1998, Christopher Karakostas was a beat officer whose Christmas Eve shift ended at the bloody murder scene of a young couple in their northeast Minneapolis apartment. In the years to come, the deaths of Carrie Richter, 18, and Dustin Baity, 20, remained unsolved. But Karakostas never forgot. … On Wednesday, the Hennepin County attorney’s office announced that [Jason] Preston, 35, has been indicted in the case, accused of murdering the couple as they planned a holiday party for friends and co-workers.” Preston is already serving time until 2038.
Woodbury made the Top 10. In Family Circle magazine, Seema Nayyar writes, “With the help of Onboard Informatics, a New York City research firm that provides real estate, demographic and other data, Family Circle assembled a list of 4,200 cities and towns with populations between 10,000 and 150,000. From that, nearly 1,400 localities having a high concentration of households with median incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 were selected. We then assessed which places best met our family-friendly criteria — including affordable homes, quality schools, access to health care, green space, low crime rate and financial stability — and ranked them from top to bottom.” Edina wants a recount.
Add these folks to the list … . ECM Publishing’s web page says, “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, as leader of the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, today (Wednesday, July 9) urged Congress to respond affirmatively to voters by acting immediately to pass comprehensive federal immigration reform. Its call for action coincided with the release of a survey by three business advocacy organizations showing strong support for immigration reform among voters in Minnesota and across the nation.” Did they survey the U.S. House GOP caucus?
“I’ve been defamed!” — watch. Steve Karnowski of the AP says, “A slain military sniper whose memoir sparked a lawsuit from former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura admitted before his death that he removed Ventura’s name from the book because he was afraid of being sued, jurors in Ventura’s defamation lawsuit heard Wednesday.”
Mike McFadden might need to polish his response to the Hobby Lobby decision. MPR’s Brett Neely says, “When asked about the case at a campaign stop on Wednesday, McFadden said he was open to finding a way to make sure all women receive access to contraception. ‘One of the solutions that I’m looking at is to make contraceptions available over the counter for women that either don’t have insurance or work for an employer that does not cover contraceptions,’ said McFadden, although he did not offer any suggestions for how such a plan would be paid for. That response could put McFadden at odds with some conservative Christians who make up a large proportion of Republican voters.” Uh … yeah.