Troubled non-profit hired employees’ family members

A classic cliche. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says, “The former head of a publicly funded school technology organization had her son and daughter on the payroll, and allowed her niece to hold her wedding reception at its event center without paying a rental fee. TIES, which is headquartered in Falcon Heights and supported by 49 school districts, has come under increasing scrutiny since an auditor found it has misspent millions and fallen into financial danger. Among other problems, the audit faulted the hiring of employees’ relatives, and highlighted sloppy record-keeping and questionable pay practices with its State Fair parking, an annual revenue generator.”

So far, not too bad. Trisha Volpe at MPR reports, “One month after the Minneapolis Police Department began testing body cameras, initial results suggest that they will be effective tools to gauge how police react when stopping someone on the street or responding to calls for help. But because officers can decide for themselves whether to turn the camera on or off, critics worry police might avoid turning the cameras on during difficult encounters.”

Some churn in the sunbeam business. Says Dave Shaffer in the Strib, “Minnesota is losing one solar energy company — and gaining yet another. Solar Skies Mfg. of Alexandria, Minn., a maker of solar panels to heat hot water, said Wednesday that it will move manufacturing operations early next year to Massachusetts, where its parent company has a plant. At the same time, Heliene Inc., a maker of solar-electric panels in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, said it is setting up a manufacturing plant in St. Paul that will open in early 2015.”

Really, it’s so much better in the world beyond the parking lot. Target-watcher Kavita Kumar writes in the Strib, “For the next four days, shoppers who go to the Target store in Roseville can have a snowball fight with Zoomer the dinosaur while standing next to a wall of light-up Santas. And they can watch a snowman roasting a marshmallow in an igloo while wandering down a sporting goods aisle. Virtually, that is.Target has teamed up with Google to turn four stores nationwide, including the one in Roseville, into 3-D winter playgrounds. With the help of special tablets, shoppers can walk around the store and see a made-up world come to life.” 10,000 bonus credits for dodging the Russian hacker.

It was a “die in” at the U yesterday. For the Minnesota Daily, Blair Emerson writes, “The air was silent in the Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower on Wednesday as onlookers passed a group of about 70 students lying flat on the floor. The students, from the University of Minnesota’s Medical School and School of Public Health, joined students across the country as they staged a ‘die-in’ to protest police brutality and health care disparities. This demonstration, which follows a similar ‘die-in’ outside of TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation, the students said. … fourth-year Medical School student Ryan Wilson … said medical and public health professionals hold a special privilege to advocate for all races.”

Sorry, pal. Time away doesn’t count. Stribber Chao Xiong reports, “A Chicago man who lived freely for six years when he was supposed to be serving a 25-year prison sentence in Minnesota for killing a man will have to serve his time, a judge ruled Wednesday. The case of Knawon A. Conda involves two deaths, two states and a clerical error that set him free in 2007. Conda, 41, completed a prison term in Georgia and was supposed to be sent to Minnesota to serve another sentence. But instead, he lived in Chicago until 2013 when a retired St. Paul police investigator realized the mistake, leading to his arrest that July. When Conda landed back in Minnesota, he petitioned the court for credit against his sentence for the years he had been free.” I mean the traffic in Chicago, judge. It’s like a prison sentence!

The GleanThere’s a new cast for the next season of “Fargo.” Tim Keneally for the show biz website The Wrap says, “FX’s adaptation of the Coen Brothers film has cast Kirsten Dunst and ‘Breaking Bad’ alum Jesse Plemons for the second season of the anthology series, which will premiere next fall. Dunst has been cast as Peggy Blomquist, a small town beautician with big city dreams who is trying to figure out who she really is and what she really wants as she struggles with traditional societal expectations. Plemons, who made a splash as Todd on ‘Breaking Bad’ toward the series’ tail end, will play Peggy’s husband Ed, a butcher’s assistant … The 10-episode second season of ‘Fargo’ will be set in 1979 and take place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Luverne, Minnesota.” Lacking tax breaks they’ll probably shoot it in Canada again.

Tough reviews for that new “open portal” web site offered up by the City of Minneapolis. At City Pages, Ben Johnson says, “The city released data about crime, fires, licensing, air quality, trees, 311 calls — the list goes on, and it’s due to get bigger. A press release noted the portal is ‘meant to make the most frequently requested and most useful data easily accessible, and more content will be added over time.’ Unfortunately, right now the portal is hard to use, full of bugs, and completely unreliable. It’s basically worthless.

Finally, the novelistic context the moment needed, from Marin Cogan in New York magazine. “Most of the nearly 500 brown leather chairs in the House of Representatives are empty. A dozen members of Congress — including Democratic representatives Peter Welch, John Lewis, and Marcy Kaptur — have gathered here on Tuesday night to pay homage to John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history. … Michele Bachmann is sitting alone. She has scheduled 5:30 p.m. as the time to give her last House floor speech to Congress, and the Dingell tribute is running over time. … She speaks to an empty chamber. Only one man remains on the floor; the rest of the lawmakers have cleared out after the last Dingell tribute. A handful of visitors sit in the gallery.”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 12/11/2014 - 09:22 am.


    Everyone gives places like Chicago and New Jersey guff for corruption and nepotism, but it’s obviously alive and well here too! Why hire someone qualified when you can further enrich yourself and those close to you on the public dime?

    And to think, there were plenty of qualified people out of work while this woman was paying her family to do an absolutely abysmal job at something they obviously weren’t qualified to do.

  2. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 12/11/2014 - 09:37 am.

    police can turn off their body cams?

    Is our legal system keeping up with this technology?

    If a camera is turned off in a ‘difficult’ situation, this should at the very least raise grave doubts about the testimony or report of any police officer.

  3. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 12/11/2014 - 10:09 am.

    Die In at the U

    It’s nice that med students care so much about health care for all. I just wonder how many of them who start out to “do good” wind up “doing well”? How many will practice in the ghettos they care so much about, not the affluent suburbs? As a reality check, I invite those med students to do a simple exercise. Write a paragraph about why you are going into medicine and what you hope to do with your skills. Frame that and hang it on the wall when you start your practice. Read it often.

  4. Submitted by Pat McGee on 12/11/2014 - 10:28 am.

    Open data portal

    Not only is worthless but is impossible to find unless someone sends you the link. They must be hiding it for the very reason that there is nothing there to see that isn’t already available in better and easier to follow formats on the City’s public website.

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