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Former Minnesota Attorney General Warren Spannaus dies

Plus: Falcon Heights looks to impose franchise fee on State Fair; Minneapolis woman allegedly kills Thanksgiving guest; Melvin Carter using committees to evaluate key hires; and more.

Minnesota Attorney General Warren Spannaus circa 1975
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

RIP Warren Spannaus. In the Strib, Rochelle Olson says: “Former Minnesota Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Warren Spannaus, known for pushing Minnesota’s landmark gun-control law and for his longtime friendship and professional partnership with former Vice President Walter Mondale, died suddenly Monday. He was 86. Spannaus was elected attorney general in 1970 and re-elected twice, serving from 1971 to 1983. He ran for governor in 1982, received the DFL Party endorsement, but lost the primary to eventual winner Rudy Perpich. In 1975, Spannaus pushed the state’s landmark gun law requiring waiting periods and background checks.” 

The Star Tribune’s David Peterson writes: “Faced with a huge jump in the cost of law enforcement in the wake of the 2016 fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, Falcon Heights is preparing to impose a form of taxation on the Minnesota State Fair and the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus — large tax-exempt entities within its borders. … The mechanism being proposed for extracting money from the city’s tax-exempt entities is a franchise fee, charged against a portion of their use of electricity and gas.”

MPR’s Dan Kraker reports, “Despite the allegations, many Minnesota Democrats who supported [Sen. Al] Franken in the last election shared a similar reaction when they first heard the allegations of sexual misconduct … . They say they’re shocked and disappointed in Franken, who has been accused by four women of touching them inappropriately while getting their picture taken with him, and during a tour in support of American troops in 2006. But many don’t feel he should step down, at least not yet.”

There is no shortage of rescue dogs in Minnesota. Samantha Stetzer of the Winona Daily News reports, “A matter of minutes separated Juno from death and a new life. The 1-year-old pit bull and heeler mix was set to be euthanized in Texas when the Winona Area Humane Society agreed to bring him up to Minnesota. The Winona society has brought up more than 25 dogs like Juno — then known as Clancy — in an effort to relieve the stress on Texas-based animal organizations prior to and after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas.”

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Rural roads with driverless cars. MPR’s Dan Kraker says, “… last year [Frank Douma, who directs the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs] organized a task force to explore how to make self-driving vehicles accessible to all Minnesotans, which he and others predict will be cruising Minnesota roads by 2025 or 2030. … Douma believes self-driving vehicles could be a game-changer for Minnesota’s 41 rural transit systems. The technology would free them up from having to recruit and pay drivers, he said, which is one of their largest expenses. … They also promise big safety advances in places where car accidents are more common.”

Probably not a big surprise, but Stribber Tim Harlow reports that the Electric Fetus is hurting: “Inside Electric Fetus, you’ll find displays of Prince memorabilia, kitschy socks, jewelry made by local artists, and, of course, a vast selection of vinyl records and CDs for just about every musical taste. About the only thing you won’t find at the treasured record store with its creaky wood floor just south of downtown Minneapolis: lots of customers. Business at the store has dropped off nearly 20 percent — $1,500 a day — since September, when the Minnesota Department of Transportation knocked down the Franklin Avenue bridge over Interstate 35W and began building a replacement.” 

Carter’s committees. The Pioneer Press’ Frederick Melo writes: “A series of key hires to be made by St. Paul Mayor-elect Melvin Carter will be evaluated by committees of residents and policy experts in coming weeks. Carter will assemble 10 review panels to screen, interview and help him choose department leaders before the end of the year. Carter will be sworn in as mayor in January. Carter, to be the city’s first black mayor and one of its youngest, plans to surround himself by top administrators recommended by up to 80 members of the public, rather than hand-picking them.”

So, in other words: wait until next year. Dee DePass of the Strib says, “Minnesota’s iron-mining industry paid $96.5 million in taxes to the state in 2017, down 11 percent from the year before, mining officials said. Because the taxes are largely distributed to cities, counties and school districts, they are closely watched as a barometer of economic health on Minnesota’s Iron Range. The reduction in taxes paid this year signal the survival of an industry that has weathered hard times. And next year’s tax revenue should be more if the companies end this year as forecast.”

MPR’s Tim Nelson says, “A 47-year-old Minneapolis woman has been charged with second-degree murder after allegedly killing a Thanksgiving dinner guest. Criminal charges against Anenia Marie Hare say that Hare had invited 69-year-old Edward Caliph over to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. But she told police that before they started to eat, she saw him lighting a crack pipe, without asking her or offering to share.”

So not for medicinal use? Says Andrew Hazzard for the Forum News Service, “Two University of North Dakota students have been arrested after police seized about 60 pounds of marijuana, large amounts of cash and a rifle when executing a search warrant last week. Cade Mathew Hoben, 21, and Mark Charles Hildahl, 20, were arrested Nov. 21, after the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at their home at 1611 Fourth Ave. N. following what Grand Forks Police called a lengthy investigation. Both men are originally from the Twin Cities. … it was the most pot confiscated in city limits in about five years.”