Today in protecting and serving. Heather Carlson of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, “A Rochester police officer is on paid administrative leave amid allegations he posted an image on his Facebook page of a car running over protesters and another that talked about shooting Muslims in the face. Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson said officer Ben Schlag was put on leave Friday after the department was contacted about the posts. An internal investigation is underway.”
Ya think? KMSP-TV says, “The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says personalized license plates that say FMUSLMS should never have been issued and that DPS agents will be revoking the plates immediately. Fox 9 confirmed the plates were registered to a man from Big Lake, Minn.” And could I get ABIDE? No.
At City Pages Mike Mullen writes, “The plate was issued in June 2015 out of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s office in Foley. That agency’s driver and vehicle services division reviewed the plate and, somehow, no one caught the not-even-thinly veiled racism it entailed. Perhaps they thought it was the call letters to a cool new FM talk station. The DPS is distancing itself from granting the request to the racist driver, whose identity remains unknown. In a statement issued Monday afternoon, spokesman Bruce Gordon said the plate is ‘offensive and distasteful,’ and the state’s in the process of revoking its issuance and getting it back off the streets.”
Maya Rao writes about presidential politics in the Star Tribune, “In the Twin Cities, which faces a wide and persistent economic gap between blacks and whites, black voters are still weighing their choices. [Gary] Cunningham, a Metropolitan Council member who heads an organization that aids minority businesses, said he’s still undecided. … The Clinton campaign announced Friday the support of more than 100 Democratic leaders in Minnesota — including Cunningham’s wife, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. Also on the list are longtime civil rights activists like Josie Robinson Johnson.”
Another year, another salad slur. Says Kim Ode in the Strib, “You may recall when a mélange of green grapes, sour cream and brown sugar was heralded by the New York Times in November 2014 as a traditional fave at Thanksgiving. … This time, it’s a bowl full of ground beef, Nacho Cheese Dorito chips, iceberg lettuce, a can of black olives, Cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes and a package of taco seasoning.… bound together with French dressing. This, apparently, is Minnesota Taco Salad, and it’s proving a puzzler in one of Buzzfeed’s latest 12-question quizzes, ‘This Food Test Will Determine If You’re Actually From Minnesota.’ And what about my traditional lutefisk puree, which I serve over a bed of white rice and Rice Krispies?
Speaking of Essential Minnesota, how about “Eighth Least Miserable?” Paul Huttner at MPR tells us, “Chances are you’ve noticed we’re getting off easy this winter. By all measures this winter falls in the milder range of winter in Minnesota. Some numbers for the Twin Cities.
+4.8 degrees temperatures vs. average overall this meteorological winter (Dec-Feb)
11 days at or below zero at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport so far this winter (48 percent of average)
23 days on average at or below zero at MSP in winter
30.4 inches season snowfall to date at MSP Airport
-9.1 inches season snowfall vs. average to date this winter
You get the picture. Winter is definitely underperforming this year. 8th ‘least miserable’ winter on record?”
The AG’s latest target is a crowd selling very expensive auto repair warranties. The AP says, “Minnesota’s attorney general is suing a Missouri company, accusing it of misleading consumers into unnecessarily buying coverage for auto repairs. The lawsuit by Attorney General Lori Swanson was filed Monday in Dakota County against United Auto Defense. The lawsuit alleges that UAD solicits Minnesotans into buying ‘vehicle service contracts’ that provide third-party coverage for certain auto repairs. It says the company misleadingly poses as a manufacturer or dealership and tells consumers via direct mail that there may be issues with their car or that their warranty has expired. The attorney general says some Minnesota consumers bought coverage for as much as $4,750 through UAD.” Sheesh, that might even cover a Range Rover.
So you’re saying you can’t just slap “organic” on a can of whatever? MPR’s Mark Steil says, “You might call it the 36-month challenge. That’s how long a field must be free of chemicals like synthetic fertilizers and pesticides before the crops grown there can be labeled organic. It can be a hectic time as a farmer learns to control weeds, select crops and survive three years of economics that are far worse than traditional farming. … It’s a gamble many farmers are increasingly willing to take as they see Americans’ rapidly growing appetite for organic food changing the entire U.S. food chain, from grocery stores to farms. The Organic Trade Association counts more than 3,000 U.S. farms converting to organic production.”
Titanium! Also at MNPR, Dan Kraker writes, “University of Minnesota Duluth researchers on Monday will ask for funding for a project that could eventually lead to titanium mining on the Iron Range. UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute is seeking $300,000 from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to demonstrate the viability of a new technology for processing a mineral called ilmenite. That’s an iron-titanium compound that’s found in several deposits in northeast Minnesota, including a site known as the Longnose Deposit a few miles northeast of Hoyt Lakes, very near the proposed PolyMet copper nickel mine.”
$9 million for electrocuted cows. Dave Chanen of the Strib says, “The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the state’s largest lawsuit settlement involving a dairy farmer whose dairy cows were seriously injured or died from stray voltage. … Randall Norman of Pine River is set to receive $9 million, which includes lawyers’ fees and other expenses. For years, he watched negligent delivery of electrical services destroy his herd or decrease milk production.”
The Fringe is ever more popular. A Pioneer Press story says, “Minnesota Fringe Festival received 524 applications for its 2016 festival by the end of its application period Friday — a 10 percent increase over 2015’s 477 applications and a new record for the organization. The uncurated 11-day performing arts festival, which takes place Aug. 4-14 this year, chooses its annual lineup of 170 shows with a random lottery on Feb. 29. Each applicant gets a number that goes on a pingpong ball and into a bingo cage.”
A three-student riot. Mara Gottfried of the PiPress writes, “Prosecutors charged three teens with third-degree riot after a fight at a St. Paul high school last week. A police officer used pepper spray to control one of the students near Central High School’s cafeteria Wednesday and arrested three students. The school district said five students were involved in the fight. The Ramsey County Attorney’s office charged three males — ages 14, 16 and 17 — each with one count of gross misdemeanor riot… .” Which sounds kind of oxymoronic if you ask me.
Well, now it’s in the bag. Stribber Allison Sherry reports, “Rep. Erik Paulsen is the latest Minnesota Republican politician to endorse Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP presidential primary. … Paulsen’s endorsement late Monday comes after his colleague, outgoing Rep. John Kline, endorsed Rubio earlier this month and former Sen. Norm Coleman shifted his support from Jeb Bush to Rubio about an hour after Bush dropped out of the race Saturday night. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed Rubio earlier Monday on CNN.” I expect The Donald will suspend any minute.