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Gubernatorial debate gets personal

Plus: Elizabeth Warren invokes Wellstone; big demand for computer programming classes across MN; Amy Senser to be freed; and more.

On Sunday’s gubernatorial debate, MPR’s Tim Pugmire says, “DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson highlighted their differences on gun control Sunday during the fourth of five scheduled debates of the campaign. … Both candidates said they own guns. They agreed with continuing the policy that allows law-abiding citizens to carry guns inside the state Capitol building.”

For the PiPress, Frederick Melo says, “Asked by panelists whether they had ever spanked their children, Johnson and Dayton said they had done so on one occasion. Asked whether they had ever smoked marijuana, the candidates responded with one-word answers: ‘no’ for Johnson, ‘yes’ for Dayton.”

Daniel Heimpel, who knows something about child protection issues says in a Strib commentary, “The fact is that black and Indian families are disproportionately exposed to ‘child maltreatment risk factors’ in Minnesota and across the country. The DHS’ 2010 Minnesota Child Welfare Disparities Report provided a comparison of maltreatment risk among racial groups. … Citing 2008 data, for example, the DHS determined that Indian children were more likely to be rated as high risk than blacks, whites or Asians, while blacks were more likely to be rated as moderate risk than Indians and whites.”

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The Washington Post followed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Minnesota. Paul Kane writes, “Speaking before more than 400 people at Carleton College, Warren repeatedly invoked the spirit of the late Paul Wellstone, the fiery liberal senator who died 12 years ago this month in a plane crash during his reelection campaign. Wellstone remains a revered figure in Minnesota politics, and his brand of populism — out of step in the Clintonian Democratic Party of the 1990s — is now mainstream among leading liberal activists. Warren has become the most prominent public face of that movement, and the Wellstone disciples in this town 40 miles south of Minneapolis gave their approval Saturday. ‘The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it,’ Warren said to loud cheers.”

Another course that was not offered at my grade school back in the day. Kim McGuire of the Strib writes, “The students in Kirsten Lunzer’s fourth-grade class watch as Codey the Troll crosses their computer screen, guided by the program they wrote to leap obstacles and collect blue jelly beans. These programming-savvy students in Minnetonka are on the leading edge of a new high-tech era that has Minnesota schools scrambling to respond to student demand for computer science classes that teach them how to develop software, apps, games and websites.”

The GleanLosing your home to foreclosure? Would you like a fat check? MPR’s Annie Baxter says, “People forced into foreclosure rarely find a silver lining. They lose their homes and their credit ratings tank. But under the right circumstances, Minnesotans in foreclosure can walk away from the process with tens of thousands of dollars.”

Lacking anything new on Denny Hecker, we offer Amy Senser instead. Dave Chanen of the Strib says, “Less than 2½ years after being sentenced for criminal vehicular homicide in the death of a Minneapolis chef, Amy Senser will be freed Monday. That is, she’ll be on supervised release — able to go home to Edina or another residence of her choosing, but not allowed to drive, and subject to random drug and alcohol tests. … She was one of about 200 offenders in Minnesota approved for it at any given time, according to the Department of Corrections. Historically, fewer than 2 percent commit a new offense while on work release.”

Job creation! Dee DePass of the Strib reports, “Soaring demand for wireless monitoring systems at oil production sites has led Emerson Electric Co. to undertake a $110 million expansion in the Twin Cities’ southwest suburbs. In Shakopee on Tuesday, Emerson will open a $70 million headquarters building for its Rosemount-brand operation. … Emerson also recently completed $40 million in renovations and upgrades to factories in Chanhassen and Eden Prairie. The St. Louis-based company plans to add more than 500 new jobs at the three sites over five years to help fulfill demand for Rosemount instruments.”

Mug shot of the day. WCCO-TV reports, “Mankato officials say a 56-year-old man was arrested after he called 911, saying he’d heard there were bombs placed along the city’s marathon route. Brian Douglas Mechler allegedly called 911 on Friday, saying he got an anonymous call about four bombs that had been placed along the route, city officials said. When police investigated, they found that Mechler never received any such phone call. Officers arrested Mechler on Saturday for probable cause of terroristic threats, and he was booked into the Nicollet County Jail.” He has one of those looks that kinda says, “You know I’ve done something worth arresting me.”

Meanwhile: The AP tells us,A Wisconsin man has been arrested for allegedly urinating on a marked Madison Police Department squad car. A police statement says officers observed the 21-year-old Dodgeville man relieving himself on the squad car late Saturday night near a bar on State Street in downtown Madison. It says several people warned the man that police were approaching, but he didn’t stop.” Didn’t because he couldn’t or wouldn’t?