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Prince investigation deemed a criminal probe

Plus: Dayton requests ‘equity audit’ of state hiring; Science Museum to lead new NASA education program; I-94 in St. Paul closing this weekend; and more.

Prince performing at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in 2013.
REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Today in Prince news: Says Dave Chanen of the Strib, “The investigation of Prince’s death took a turn Thursday indicating that the megastar’s collapse on April 21 is now the focus of a criminal probe. The Carver County Sheriff’s Office cited an exception to Minnesota public records laws that allows it to suppress information relating to a ‘criminal’ probe in deciding to release only scant information about the 911 response to Paisley Park that morning. … The exception citation doesn’t mean that criminal charges will be filed at the completion of the sheriff’s office inquiry, only that charges are a possibility.”

The AP says, “Investigators are looking into whether Prince died from an overdose and whether a doctor was prescribing him drugs in the weeks before he was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday. The official said that among the things investigators are looking at is whether a doctor was on a plane that made an emergency landing in Illinois less than a week before Prince died. The law enforcement official has been briefed on the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.”

From always reliable TMZ: “We did some checking, and turns out there’s no particular law in Minnesota that protects a person’s image after he or she dies. Translation … when Prince passed away last week, there’s nothing in the law specifically prohibiting any Tom, Dick, or Harry from plastering Prince’s face on t-shirts, socks, posters, key chains and all things cheesy. It’s way different from places like California and Tennessee, where courts and legislatures have given the estates of dead celebs the right to go after people who try and make a quick buck off famous images.”

In the New York Daily News, Alfred Ng says, “While most merchandisers stuck to shirts, key chains and posters, endeavoring entrepreneurs were inspired by the “Purple Rain” artist — by literally selling the rain from the day Prince died. … One eBay auction has a minimum bid of $100, and the seller even lists the jar of water as Purple Rain. ‘Rain from outside Paisley park, Minnesota. From 4/21/2016. passed away,’ the page wrote. At that price, it would cost more than a copy of Prince’s actual ‘Purple Rain’ album on vinyl.”

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Go ahead. Run the numbers. Christopher Magan of the PiPress says, “Gov. Mark Dayton wants an independent auditor to examine whether state government is working hard enough to ensure Minnesota businesses and workers are given equitable opportunities. Dayton announced the probe and the working group that will oversee it at a Thursday news conference with leaders of local NAACP chapters who proposed the idea last year. The ‘equity audit’ will examine state hiring, contracting and purchasing decisions and recommend how the government can better reflect the diversity of residents.”

Adam Belz of the Strib reviews the month’s three big deals in Minnesota business: Valspar, Carlson hotels and St. Jude Medical: “Three forces are at work as the boom ends. Interest rates are expected to rise over the next few years, which pushes buyers to lock in deals while financing is cheap. Second, the cycle itself forced some companies to conclude they can’t keep up with rivals who’ve already made deals, which leads them to become sellers. And then, there’s the fear that the next recession is closer than the last one.”

The Forum News Service’s Don Davis and his daily update: “Abortion. Transportation. Exploding trains and pipelines. Thursday brought a potpourri of hot-button issues to Minnesota legislative debate. Lawmakers often avoided dry money talk in spending hours debating tweaks to the current two-year, $42 billion budget. Instead, they fell back on tried and true controversies and attention-grabbing issues as they prepare for the final three weeks of the 2016 legislative session.” At this rate we’ll be getting another look at Voter ID, too.

You need some kind of reminder to be afraid, right? Well, Power Line’s Scott Johnson is saying, “In the Weekly Standard articles ‘The threat from ‘Minnesota men’ and ‘Judging the ‘Minnesota men’ I tried to persuade readers that attention must be paid. The cases open a window into the evolving security threat facing the United States. It lies at the intersection of Islam and immigration. Developments in social media amplify the threat. The Democrat/media complex obscures and minimizes it. … The filings in the case are like the tip of an iceberg. More than ninety percent of the case is submerged in investigative materials that have been turned over by the government to defense counsel but have not been made public. The case is full of loose threads, such as the pathetic state of security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.” I’m guessing we should worry about the drive-up lines at Hardee’s too, while we’re at it.

What? NASA has an extra $14 million? At MPR, Jon Collins says, “The Science Museum of Minnesota has been chosen by NASA to lead a new educational effort based on the space agency’s research. The $14.5 million contract will allow Science Museum staff to create new interactive exhibits, activities and videos for museums and educators across the country. Paul Martin, the museum’s senior vice president for science learning, said they plan to build 1,000 educational kits that will be sent to museums and other facilities across the country.”

Pick No. 2 comes from North Dakota. The AP says, “From Fargo to Philly, Carson Wentz is the latest quarterback the Eagles hope will deliver the franchise’s first Super Bowl. The Eagles selected the North Dakota State quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night after trading up twice to get the pick from Cleveland. A potential franchise quarterback was Philadelphia’s goal when it moved from No. 13 to No. 8 to No. 2 to get in position to select Jared Goff or Wentz … .”

Declare a walking weekend. Andy Rathbun of the PiPress says, “You may want to avoid Interstate 94 in most of St. Paul this weekend. Both directions of the interstate will close between Minnesota 280 and Snelling Avenue beginning at 8 p.m. Friday. Adding to that, traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction between Snelling Avenue and Dale Street. Motorists also will not be able to enter westbound I-94 between Interstate 35E and Cretin Avenue, and westbound I-94 will be reduced to a single lane between Cretin Avenue and Minnesota 280.”