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Franken to make announcement from Senate floor Thursday morning

Plus: MPR CEO says there were “multiple allegations” against Keillor; former WCCO sportscaster Ralph Jon Fritz dies; body found at U of M identified as mechanical engineering prof; and more.

Sen. Al Franken
MinnPost photo by Jana Freiband

In the Star Tribune, Jennifer Brooks, J. Patrick Coolican and Maya Rao write: “Franken planned to make an announcement about his future Thursday morning on the Senate floor. A top Democratic official told the Star Tribune that Franken planned to resign, but the senator’s staff insisted no final decision had been made.”

Schumer weighs in. In the New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor and Nicholas Fandos report: “‘Senator Franken should resign,’ Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Wednesday evening, the latest in an avalanche of statements that began with a half-dozen Democratic women and then snowballed throughout the day. ‘I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.’”

In The Washington Post, Aaron Blake says: “Franken tried to pretend this all existed in some kind of gray area, but that was never going to suffice as an explanation. Franken declined to elaborate much, which Democrats probably took as him not wanting to call Tweeden a liar, but this discrepancy was never really going away. When the latest accuser came forward, Franken shifted tactics and offered a blanket denial. … That fuller, unmistakable denial was clearly a sign of the jeopardy in which he found himself. It also reinforced that his mealy-mouthed apologies were never really going to cut it in today’s Democratic Party.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver says, “Voters are also not necessarily interested in making overly fine distinctions among different types of sexual misconduct. A YouGov poll this week, for instance, found that roughly the same proportion of voters wanted Franken (43 percent resign, 23 percent not resign, 35 percent not sure) and Moore (47/22/31) to step down. All of this goes to show that voters face a number of complexities when considering these allegations, such as the number of accusers; the severity of the alleged misconduct; the age of the victims and their ability to consent; the amount of time passed since the alleged misconduct; the credibility of the accusers; whether the politicians apologize for the conduct or how persuasive they were in denying the allegations; and whether the allegations involved an abuse of public office.”

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Meanwhile, there are more details on the Garrison Keillor firing. MPR’s Eric Ringham, Laura Yuen, Matt Sepic write: “American Public Media Group’s decision to sever its contracts with Garrison Keillor were the result of ‘multiple allegations’ that covered an extended period of time, the CEO of MPR’s parent company said Wednesday. In an off-the-record meeting with employees, Jon McTaggart added that he alone, among APMG staff, knew the content of the allegations against the longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion. He said specifics had been shared only with lawyers and a committee of APMG Board members addressing the issue.”

Body at U of M identified. KSTP-TV reports: “Authorities have identified the man found dead in a University of Minnesota academic building on Tuesday. He was 74-year-old Barney Eugene Klamecki, a university professor of mechanical engineering from Minneapolis. Police said he was found in the Mechanical Engineering building on the east bank of the university’s Minneapolis campus. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office says Klamecki died of apparent natural causes.”

An opening at the Minneapolis parks department. The Strib’s Faiza Mahamud writes: “Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller, who has been criticized by protesters and some incoming Park Board members, announced Wednesday that she will resign, effective Feb. 3. Miller, who was hired by the Park Board after a national search in 2010, said she has accepted a new job as president and CEO of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in Pennsylvania.”

RIP Ralph Jon Fritz. The Strib’s Neal Justin writes: “When taped highlights weren’t available, WCCO sportscaster Ralph Jon Fritz used to draw stick figures on a piece of paper to show viewers what had happened in a game. ‘He never lost that folksy, homespun way of doing his work,’ longtime colleague Mark Rosen said Wednesday. … Fritz, 78, died after a long struggle with stomach cancer.”