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Family of woman killed in Minnehaha Academy explosion files suit

Plus: business groups make push in Minneapolis City Council races; Minnesota State system considers overhauling tuition and fee policy; DHS grants Minnesota another extension for REAL ID compliance; and more.

Emergency vehicles shown outside the collapsed building at Minnehaha Academy after the blast.
Steven Appelget/via REUTERS

Peter Cox at MPR reports, “Family members of a woman killed in a blast at Minnehaha Academy’s upper campus this summer filed a lawsuit Wednesday, saying the companies in charge of gas line work were negligent. In a suit filed in Hennepin County District Court, the mother and daughter of Ruth Berg, say the companies — CenterPoint Energy and Master Mechanical — failed in many ways. Berg, a 47-year-old receptionist at the school, and custodian John Carlson were killed in the Aug. 2 blast. Nine people were injured.”

Insurgent millennials. Adam Belz of the Star Tribune writes, “The possibility that the Minneapolis City Council could be dominated by a left-wing majority after next month’s election has prompted an unprecedented late push from business groups to protect council members they view as open to compromise with business. Leaders of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Council and Building Owners and Managers Association sent a fundraising e-mail last week with the subject line ‘A call to action in Minneapolis,’ … Young, progressive candidates backed by calls for change at City Hall have gained traction, and allies of incumbents such as Council President Barb Johnson are worried.” 

Oh boy, the barstool talk up north will get intense now. Says John Myers for the Forum News Service, “While Great Lakes-region wolves are currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, they are listed as officially ‘threatened’ in Minnesota — a step below endangered that allows U.S. Department of Agriculture trappers to kill wolves where livestock and pets have been killed. But that Grand Rapids-based program, which has for decades killed about 180 wolves in Minnesota annually, blew through its budget this year and stopped operations last Friday.”

The system is playing catch up. In the PiPress, Josh Verges says, “The Minnesota State system will consider overhauling its tuition and fee policy in response to the growing number of students taking classes from multiple schools at once. Chief financial officer Laura King told the board of trustees on Wednesday that the system hasn’t substantially updated the policy since it was written in 2000. She said it hasn’t kept pace with enrollment trends, which include dual and hybrid models.”

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Great, let’s continue the procrastination. KMSP-TV’s story on the latest Real ID delay says, “The Department of Homeland Security has granted Minnesota an extension for REAL ID compliance, according to the governor’s office. DHS is giving Minnesota until Oct. 10, 2018, to fully  implement REAL ID and comply with federal requirements. The extension means Minnesotans will still be able to board commercial airplanes and access federal facilities with their state-issued driver’s licenses and birth certificates come January. Minnesota was the last state to meet the stricter federal ID standards.” That means Mississippi got its act together before we did.

A minor lining of silver in an otherwise dark cloud. Says Solvejg Wastvedt at MPR, “More than $80,000 dollars in donated lunch money has rolled into an online fundraising campaign for the St. Paul school district, and the fundraiser’s organizer hopes to turn it into a self-sustaining nonprofit to take a bite out of a problem that plagues school districts across Minnesota. The Philando Feeds the Children campaign memorializes Philando Castile, a cafeteria worker at the district’s J.J. Hill Montessori school who was killed by a police officer during a 2016 traffic stop. ‘We have to have this initial really big push for [the fundraiser] to get enough money to be able to make some money’ Pam Fergus said. The St. Paul school district said it typically builds up about $60,000 in lunch debt each year.”

End of an eraSays the AP, “The Minnesota Twins have told left-hander Glen Perkins they will decline their $6.5 million option on his contract for 2018 and pay him a $700,000 buyout. The Twins announced the decision Wednesday, moving Perkins closer to retirement. The 34-year-old three-time All-Star will become a free agent able to sign with any team, including the Twins, but he has said he’s not interested in pitching elsewhere. Perkins played at Stillwater High School … and the University of Minnesota before the Twins drafted him in the first round in 2004.”

Also in baseball, the Boston Herald reports: “The Red Sox have interviewed their third and potentially final candidate to replace John Farrell as manager. Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire interviewed today …. Gardenhire turns 60 later this month and hasn’t managed since 2014, but he spent 13 years as manager of the Twins and developed a strong reputation as a players’ manager.”