The Franken v. Uber scuffle has the attention of Politico’s Tony Romm. “Uber on Monday strongly defended its privacy practices, telling Sen. Al Franken in a letter that the company ‘prohibits employees from accessing rider personal information except for business purposes’ — but the Democratic senator said he still isn’t convinced. … Franken said today he remains unhappy with Uber’s response. ‘While I’m pleased that they replied to my letter, I am concerned about the surprising lack of detail in their response,’ he said in a statement. ‘Quite frankly, they did not answer many of the questions I posed directly to them.’ ”
Paul Walsh of the Strib reports, “Sen. Al Franken has told MSNBC that he’s enthused about the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming president, a comment which the network reported as being an endorsement of her potential candidacy. … ‘I think that I’m ready for Hillary. I mean, I think that we’ve not had someone this experienced, this tough, and she’s very, very impressive.’ Franken added that he’s also been asked about U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as a presidential candidate in 2016. ‘She is great, but she’s not running,’ he said.” But Clinton is?
Gas leak. The AP reports, “Authorities are investigating after 9,000 gallons of a dangerous gas leaked at a fertilizer plant in southern Minnesota. The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office says about 15 homes were evacuated Monday for a couple of hours after anhydrous ammonia leaked at Watonwan Farm Service’s Clarks Grover Fertilizer. The colorless, pungent gas is highly irritating and can burn the eyes, nose and throat in even small amounts. The chemical is a common farm fertilizer.”
The nephew from hell. The Forum News Service’s John Myers writes, “A 55-year-old Iron Range man was charged Monday with bilking his dementia-afflicted uncle out of more than $1 million and using the money to gamble, buy a new car and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card bills. … Included in the complaint were copies of canceled checks and a list of what appears to be extravagant spending by Patrick Pecchia on his uncle’s accounts, including:
“– $10,700 for a new snowplow that Pecchia used to clear snow at his businesses. …
“– $107,062 to Patrick Pecchia in cashier’s checks.
“– $119,501.97 in checks for “questionable gambling.”
“– $258,993 in “counter checks” made out to Pecchia interests.
“– $446,044 to three credit card accounts, including cash advances and bills from Patrick Pecchia’s businesses.”
Jennifer Brooks of the Strib follows the Madison, Minnesota, mother being dragged back to court over medicinal pot. “Angela Brown of Madison faces two gross misdemeanor charges of child endangerment after she gave cannabis oil to her 15-year-old son, Trey, to ease the pain and muscle spasms he suffers as the result of a traumatic brain injury. On Tuesday morning, activists delivered a petition with almost 9,000 signatures to Lac qui Parle County Attorney Rick Stulz, asking him to drop the case. ‘Charging a mother with child endangerment because of politics is absurd,’ said Patrick McClellan of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, who traveled the long snowy miles from his home in Burnsville to deliver the petition.”
Ramsey County’s property tax watchdogs and cranks can back off their meds. In the Strib, Kevin Duchschere says, “Ramsey County commissioners on Tuesday approved the second year of the county’s 2014-15 biennial budget with no change in the property tax levy for the second year in a row. The $615.3 million budget includes about $11.8 million more in spending next year. New revenues to cover the additional spending come from program and user fees, and intergovernmental aid from the state and federal governments. A little more than half of Ramsey’s budget is paid with intergovernmental aid and service-fee charges and fines, with the balance covered by property taxes.”
The AP says, “The U.S. government has apparently reached a settlement with the city of St. Anthony over a proposed Islamic center. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger plans to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon on the results of settlement negotiations. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Minneapolis alleged the St. Anthony Village City Council treated Abu-Huraira’s application for a conditional use permit at the St. Anthony Business Center on less-than-equal terms as other, non-religious permits to assemble.”
Following on that truly unsettling random murder in Duluth supermarket, Tom Olsen of the News Tribune writes, “A Duluth slaying suspect refused to acknowledge his own name, declared that he intends to represent himself and mumbled through most of his arraignment hearing Tuesday. Jesse Alan Dahlstrom, 35, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in last week’s stabbing death of 75-year-old Sally Pionk at the West Duluth Super One. … Public defender Laura Zimm, who was appointed to represent Dahlstrom, said he was “extremely” uncooperative as she attempted to explain his rights. Dahlstrom told the judge that he wants to represent himself, but Hylden ordered that Zimm remain on the case.”
There’ll be no sealing in the case of the sex tape made by two hockey players. Adrian Glass-Moore of the Forum News Service says, “A judge has denied a prosecutor’s request to hide court filings from the public in the increasingly contentious case of two hockey players accused of sharing a video of sex with a minor. The prosecution and the defense have sparred over documents the defense has filed in Clay County District Court that portray the 15-year-old alleged victim as the real predator. … The prosecution and the defense got into a public spat in late October when the defense filed a document that painted the girl as a self-described hockey groupie who preyed on [Tom] Carey and [Brandon] Smith. [Judge Michael] Fritz issued a gag order in early November because of comments to the media by both sides that, he argued, ‘would pose a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a jury’ if they continued.”