Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Among distracted driving offenders: Tech-choked cops

Plus: Wilfs hit with $2 million judgment; archdiocese accused of destroying porn videos; how ALS chapter will use some of its Ice Bucket Challenge funds; and more.

And who’s always on us about distracted driving? Trisha Volpe at MPR says, “Incident reports from across Minnesota show dozens of crashes in the last four years involving police officers distracted behind the wheel. While those numbers are small compared to the 17,000-plus distracted driving crashes each year in Minnesota, there’s growing concern the technology packed into squad cars is creating its own hazard. … After examining hundreds of crash reports since 2010 and reviewing several hours of police squad car videos, MPR News and KARE 11 found 61 crashes in four years where crash investigators said distracted driving by the officer was a factor. More than half the time, the officer was distracted by something inside the squad car, such as a cell phone or computer.”

While they appeal that $103 million civil judgment, “our” Wilf brothers have been hit with a $2 million judgment. Brian Murphy at the PiPress writes, “An arbitrator ordered the Minnesota Vikings’ three principal owners to pay two former business partners $2 million for shutting down construction of an unfinished New Jersey housing development, according to court records. Chairman Zygi Wilf, his brother and team president Mark Wilf, and their cousin, vice chairman Leonard Wilf, defaulted on their contract with the project’s general contractors, arbitrator John Bissel ruled in August. … It was the second time in a year that the Wilfs were ordered to pay jilted business associates. The Vikings executives are appealing a $103 million civil judgment in New Jersey after a state judge ruled in August 2013 they had defrauded former partners in a failed real-estate venture from the 1980s.”

The moose are truly loose. Not long after a moose wandered on to I-94 (with unhappy consequences for moose and machine) another has turned up even farther south. The AP says, “A wandering moose has been spotted in the unfamiliar habitat of southern Minnesota. Department of Natural Resources specialists say it’s unusual for a moose to travel that far from northern Minnesota. The yearling bull moose was seen munching on apples at a farm near Sleepy Eye Wednesday. DNR wildlife research manager Lou Cornicelli … that wanderlust in a young male moose is to be expected, but sometimes they wind up in spots that aren’t conducive to their survival.” And that would be a universal truism, gentlemen.

Who knew trashing a priest’s porn collection was among their ecclesiastical duties? Says Randy Furst in the Strib, “Church officials in St. Paul may have destroyed evidence that a St. Paul priest possessed child pornography, a St. Paul attorney charged Thursday. Documents released at a news conference describe an alleged cover-up by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Vatican officials in Washington, D.C., in the case of the Rev. Donald Dummer. Dummer was among those recently added to a list of priests with credible accusations of sexual misconduct. Attorney Mike Finnegan and former priest Patrick Wall, who work with clergy abuse litigator Jeff Anderson, gave media representatives documents describing the destruction of allegedly pornographic videotapes by a former vicar general of the archdiocese, Kevin McDonough, and an official in a religious order in St. Paul.” The book here is in McDonough’s thinking through this disaster.

Article continues after advertisement

On Give to the Max Day (subtext: remember MinnPost), WCCO-TV’s Heather Brown says, “Last year, more than 52,000 people gave $17 million in 24 hours, which is part of the $4 billion dollars Minnesotans give away every year. So, how much do we donate?  And, where does it all go? A recent Gallup survey found 66 percent of Minnesotans say they give away money each year. But, only 31 percent of mention their charitable donations on their tax returns.”

The GleanSpeaking of cash you may have already donated, Jon Collins at MPR says, “The national ALS Association and its local chapters saw a dramatic increase in donations this summer as the Ice Bucket Challenge took off around the world. The Minnesota ALS chapter announced Wednesday that the group will use $100,000 of those funds to end long wait times for its equipment and technology loan program. … Donations will be used to buy special equipment for ALS patients like four-wheeled scooters and special eating utensils for those who can no longer grip strongly.”

On the so-called “student debt crisis,” Allie Bidwell at US News and World Report says, “The average amount of student loan debt again crept up for the Class of 2013, and is approaching $30,000, according to a new report from the Institute for College Access and Success. … New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Minnesota topped the list of high-debt states, with averages above $30,000.”

Mr. Furst (again), says, “Minnesota’s high college participation rate is one reason for the large amount of student debt here, said Meredith Fergus, manager of financial aid research at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. She said that a 2012 survey by the U.S. Census showed that Minnesota ranked second in the nation in the percentage of 25- to 44-year-olds who have earned an associate college degree or higher.”

A conspiracy of silence, I tell you! At the conservative site Tom Steward warns Minnesotans to beware politicians bearing solar tidings. “A new report released by the Minnesota Commerce Department lays the technical groundwork for ramping up one of the nation’s highest state renewable energy mandates from 30 to 40 percent by 2030. One technicality left out of the $750,000 study underwritten by Minnesota utility ratepayers: Who pays for what in a potentially massive upgrade of high-voltage transmission lines from the Dakotas to Indiana. A search of the 178-page report shows the authors never mention ratepayers, leaving unanswered whether spending nearly $400 million to upgrade the grid would be a good investment for Minnesota consumers and employers.” Now, on the other hand, a 1,000-mile oil pipeline …