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Minnesota scientist claims EPA official pressured her to alter testimony

MinnPost photo by Andrew Wallmeyer
Dr. Deborah Swackhamer

This doesn’t sound good. The New York Times’ Coral Davenport reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of staff pressured the top scientist on the agency’s scientific review board to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers, his emails show. … Deborah Swackhamer, an environmental chemist who leads the E.P.A.’s Board of Scientific Counselors, was to testify on May 23 before the House Science Committee on the role of states in environmental policy when Ryan Jackson, the E.P.A.’s chief of staff, asked her to stick to the agency’s ‘talking points’ on the dismissals of several members of the scientific board. … ‘I was stunned that he was pushing me to “correct” something in my testimony,’ said Dr. Swackhamer, a retired University of Minnesota professor. ‘I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied.’”

What’s the current policy on firing from/at a moving vehicle?? The Star Tribune’s Libor Jany reports: “The Minneapolis Police Department last month tightened its standards for officers using deadly force, but backed away after the union and some of the rank-and-file raised concerns. … The proposed changes were rolled out May 25, according to a copy of the policy obtained by the Star Tribune, less than a year after the last policy revisions governing use of police weapons. … The tabled policy would have ‘strongly’ discouraged officers from firing at, or from, moving vehicles, while prohibiting them from taking actions that unnecessarily put themselves or others in harm’s way ‘so that deadly force becomes their only option to resolve the situation.’ ”

What’s really at the root of St. Paul’s property tax problem? At, sometimes MinnPost contributor Bill Lindeke argues: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Saint Paul has a weak tax base. Compared to every sizable city in the state, a huge portion of Saint Paul’s city land is occupied, not by taxpaying residents or companies, but by state and county governments, colleges and universities, and non-profit institutions. For this reason, so the logic goes, the city is broke. … Though I would like these organizations to contribute to the basic maintenance of the streets and infrastructures that they use, there is a case to be made to let organizations like these go without contributing to the city’s tax coffers that fund basic maintenance. … But the same cannot be said for their parking lots. These are vacant asphalt spaces, most of which were once taxable livable property in the city, that have been paved over and used for the storage of empty cars. And the city loses a lot of money when it allows these tax-free parking lots to survive, year after year.

Mulligan? Variety’s Jem Aswad reports: “According to court papers made public Tuesday, Universal Music Group is moving ahead with its plans to rescind the $31 million recorded-music deal it struck with the Prince estate announced in February. In a heavily redacted document, the company restates its claim that it was misled by the estate’s special music advisors in the deal, and that it paid for rights to music that is under contract to Warner Music Group.”

In other news…

Not quite as cool as catching it, but still a big fish: “Monster muskie found belly-up on Mille Lacs exceeds state record” [Star Tribune]

Seems like a marked improvement: “Kittens take over Minneapolis City Hall” [KARE]

Eh, why not: “Music News: Bob Dylan musical will be set in Duluth” [The Current]

Even in this terrible business climate? “New 510 Lounge opening in former La Belle Vie space on Thursday” [Star Tribune]

An editor’s dream come true: “City Pages headline is now a beer” [City Pages]

You expect this kind of thing in Minnesota, but Wisconsin? “Wisconsin craft brewers fear last-minute regulations in state budget” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/29/2017 - 12:58 pm.

    Why doesn’t any news report indicate whether or not Professor Swackhamer actually did testify on May 23? And about what she ended up testifying, in person?

    All I’ve seen is that her written testimony included facts about the EPA dismissal of scientists. But I’d like to know if she did hold up against the bullying by the EPA or if she caved.

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