Jessie Van Berkel of the Strib says, “A group of community leaders gathered Monday to call for the St. Paul Police Department to fire Sgt. Jeff Rothecker, who posted a Facebook comment telling people to run over marchers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Members of the St. Paul NAACP, St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and others gathered at the New Hope Baptist Church on Monday for a news conference, where they also said Rothecker should have his police officer’s license revoked and be the subject of a criminal inquiry.”
The Star Tribune is on one of its periodic polling binges. Patrick Condon reports, “Minnesotans are divided on what their political leaders should do with $1.2 billion in surplus state dollars … 30 percent said it should be refunded, and the same amount said save it. Another 31 percent said spend it, with the greatest support for roads as the top spending priority, followed by public schools.”
Eight Minnesota inmates may have caught a break from the Supreme Court. For the AP Steve Karnowski says, “A man sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for raping and killing a Woodbury woman when he was 17, and seven other Minnesota inmates, likely will get hearings on whether their sentences should be reduced under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down Monday, attorneys said. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday made retroactive its ruling from 2012 that struck down mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles who kill.”
Norm has sniffed out a winner. The Strib’s Allison Sherry says, “Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman threw support behind Jeb Bush’s presidential bid Monday. Coleman, a former one-term Minnesota senator, was previously supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid and running his super PAC.” So why not George Pataki?
One of the everyday heroes has passed away. Josh Verges in the Pioneer Press says, “Mary Beth Blegen, Minnesota’s most recent national teacher of the year, died Monday morning at age 72, according to her CaringBridge web page. Blegen was teaching history, literature, humanities and writing at Worthington Senior High School in southwestern Minnesota in 1996 when she won the Council of Chief State School Officers’ teacher of the year award.”
He stole the Shih Tzu, man! Sarah Horner of the PiPress alerts us to mutt thievery. “Two guys walked into a pet store in Roseville last week. Shortly after, one left carrying a Shih Tzu. The problem was he didn’t pay for it. … The men had requested to look at the small toy dog and, per policy, left a driver’s license with a store clerk during their visit with the animal. The dog is valued at about $1,200.”
In other heists, Mary Divine of the PiPress says, “A former Coldwell Banker Burnet real estate agent caught on camera last fall appearing to steal prescription painkillers from a home for sale in Stillwater was charged Monday with felony theft in Washington County District Court. Lawrence Yearsley Jr., 63, of White Bear Lake appeared to take the medication Oct. 30 after rifling through a desk and dresser in the bedroom of the homeowners’ son, according to a criminal complaint. … The complaint says the family later reported a bottle of Tramadol, a controlled substance, was missing from the son’s room.” A lot of traffic in prescription opioids.
Eventually everyone gets into the game almost no one watches. Ben Goessling at ESPN says, “The Minnesota Vikings’ count of players on the roster for Sunday’s Pro Bowl is up to five. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and linebacker Anthony Barr were both named to the Pro Bowl as injury replacements on Monday night, after Harrison Smith was told on Sunday he’d be playing in the game for the first time. Defensive end Everson Griffen was also named to the game earlier this month.”
Also in Viking news: The AP says, “Former Minnesota Vikings tight end Stu Voigt and a business partner are standing trial on criminal charges accusing them of stealing from investors. Prosecutors say Voigt and Jeffrey Gardner used a real estate scheme to defraud investors. Jury selection in the trial began Monday. Court documents say the two raised money from investors for Gardner’s business, Hennessey Financial, and misrepresented the company’s financial circumstances. Authorities say that as Hennessey Financial declined, the men created new companies and drew new loans without disclosing financial problems.” But can either one of them kick?
Frank Jossi at Midwest Energy News has generally good things to say about Rochester’s “net zero” energy plan. “Rochester, Minnesota’s new $6 billion Destination Medical Center district should expand existing district energy systems, encourage or require developers to follow state efficiency building requirements and maximize onsite renewable energy, according to a recent report by the Center for Energy and Environment and Ever- Green Energy. The DMC is perhaps the most ambitious development ever undertaken by a Minnesota city. The multi-billion-dollar plan calls for attracting developers over the next two decades to construct 12 million square feet of offices — about eight times the size of Normandale Lake, the largest business park in the Minnesota — in an effort to create 35,000 to 45,000 jobs.”
This guy, again. The AP reports, “A former suburban Milwaukee police officer accused of killing two women and ditching their bodies in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin highway pleaded guilty Monday in one of their deaths. Steven Zelich could spend the rest of his life behind bars after admitting to reckless homicide and other charges in the 2012 strangulation death of Jenny Gamez. Authorities said the 19-year-old Oregon woman died during a sexual encounter in Kenosha, and that Zelich hid her body before dumping it in 2014. Details of the case are similar to accusations Zelich faces in the 2013 death of Laura Simonson in Minnesota.”
Alert! Ye locavores! Says Dan Kraker at MPR, “It’s 5 below zero here along the Knife River, not exactly the sort of morning that screams, ‘Tromp through the woods in search of obscure fungus.’ Brian and Donna Garhofer, however, say this frigid, recent winter day could not be more perfect for their hunt. With the leaves down, it’s easier to scan the woods for dark spots on birch trees. It doesn’t take long until they find their treasure — a frozen chunk a few inches across, growing from a spot in the birch tree where the bark splits. It looks more like a tumor than a mushroom. It’s chaga, a black and crusty fungus that’s become an international alternative health sensation. Believers claim it helps treat everything from joint pain to Lyme disease. With it fetching as much as $20 a pound, more people are roaming northern Minnesota’s forests searching for it. It’s a cottage business gone global, but one that increasingly worries state conservation officials.” The Castle Doctrine covers fungus, right?