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Drug epidemic leads Red Lake leaders to declare public health emergency

Plus: Hodges wants to skip external search for police chief; Minnesota’s drinking water isn’t bad — yet; St. Joseph’s gets out of baby delivery biz; and more.

MinnPost file photo by Steve Date

As the Star Tribune’s Mary Lynn Smith writes: “A rampant heroin and opiate epidemic on the Red Lake Indian Reservation has prompted tribal leaders to declare a public health emergency, seek outside help in addressing the crisis and consider the extraordinary step of banishing tribal members involved in drug dealing. … Overdoses on the northern Minnesota reservation have increased significantly in the past few months, tribal leaders said, adding that the problem has worsened with the arrival of more heroin and more of it laced with deadly fentanyl.

Suddenly? Adam Belz of the Strib says: “Police reform is suddenly moving to the forefront of the race for mayor in Minneapolis, propelled there most recently after an officer on July 15 shot and killed an unarmed woman, Justine Damond, who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.”

Speaking of the mayor, MPR’s Cody Nelson reports: “Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she wants to avoid an external search for a new police chief and instead put Medaria Arradondo in charge of the department immediately, reiterating her support for the interim chief to succeed Janeé Harteau. The mayor described a sense of urgency among constituents and officers for making changes in police leadership in a statement Hodges tweeted Tuesday night.”

Bigger priorities. For Politico, Negassi Tesfamichael writes: “Rep. Tim Walz’s decision to run for governor put a battleground-tested congressman in the mix for a key statewide race next fall. But what could be good news for Minnesota Democrats could be bad news for Washington Democrats, who will lose another voice from a dwindling caucus of rural representatives — and have to defend a tough district without Walz’s help. Walz concedes that Democrats need to build back power in Washington, where Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. … But Walz says establishing a bigger Democratic presence in state governments — Democrats have both legislative houses and the governor in just six states — is an even bigger priority.”

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Says Stribber Paul Walsh: “A 19-year-old has been sentenced to 180 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old Minneapolis girl who is developmentally diminished. Damarlo R. Crawford’s victim had an IQ of 57 at the time of the assault, which occurred in September 2016 after he walked the girl home from school. Judge Lisa Janzen’s sentence in Hennepin County District Court last week gave Crawford, of Minneapolis, credit for 82 days in jail since his arrest. A prison term of four years was stayed.”

Imagine if it were a stadium? The AP’s Scott Bauer is saying, “Concerns are increasing among lawmakers and others in Wisconsin over what incentives the state may offer to become the first U.S. home of Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn. Little has been revealed about what tax breaks, subsidies, free land and other financial incentives or promises Republican Gov. Scott Walker and state economic development officials may be extending to seal the deal with Foxconn, the biggest contract assembler of smartphones and other devices for Apple and other brands.” 

Not too bad … yet. Says MPR’s Catherine Rickert: “Minnesota’s public drinking water supplies are in good shape, according the state’s Department of Health, but a new report also warns agencies should remain prepared for that to change. ‘As threats to our water intensify, we can’t afford to get complacent,’ said health department Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. ‘Aging infrastructure, increasing levels of contaminants and new knowledge about what is in our water threaten our water quality and quantity.’ The new report looks at states where the water supply has been contaminated, including lead contamination that made water unsafe in Flint, Mich.”

Babies prefer the suburbs. Writes the PiPress’ Dave Orrick: “Minnesota’s oldest hospital will no longer be a destination to deliver babies. St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul will close its maternity ward Sept. 10, according to Fairview HealthEast, which operates the 164-year-old downtown hospital. The decision comes after HealthEast merged with Fairview Health Services earlier this year and is the result of mothers choosing to give birth in the suburbs, according to a Fairview HealthEast statement Tuesday.”

Finally, Wells Fargo seems to be on a mission — to prove that things can always get worse. At Bloomberg, Laura Keller says: “Wells Fargo & Co.’s attorney who mistakenly released reams of sensitive data about wealthy clients asked a judge to order the records returned to the bank and they not be spread any further, after being leaked to a newspaper. Lawyers representing Gary Sinderbrand, a former Wells Fargo financial adviser, were provided with data for possibly tens of thousands of brokerage accounts in a New Jersey lawsuit involving him and his brother. ‘This case is an especially egregious one’, Angela A. Turiano, the Bressler, Amery & Ross lawyer who released the account data, wrote in a July 24 court filing … . She said Sinderbrand’s lawyers had ‘obligations to immediately return’ the information but instead ‘released the materials directly to their client, who, without skipping a beat, then dispatched the materials to The New York Times.’”