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Increase in thefts, auto thefts drive crime up in St. Paul

Plus: Dayton signs legislative budget bill; Georgia lieutenant governor threatens Delta over NRA snub; U.S. men’s curling team gets big welcome home in Duluth; and more.

St. Paul
MinnPost file photo by Rita Kovtun

The Pioneer Press’ Mara H Gottfried reports: “On Monday, St. Paul police released preliminary statistics that show crime rose 10 percent compared with the year before — mostly driven by an increase in thefts. … Most of the crime increase last year was attributed to a 16 percent increase in theft and an 11 percent increase in auto theft, which the police department is working to address, [St. Paul Police Chief Todd] Axtell said. The majority of the thefts were of small items and are not the same as robberies, which involve force or threat of force. And a large number of the auto thefts happened when people left their vehicles running and unattended, according to police.”

Over and done. KSTP-TV writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislative budget bill into law Monday, officially ending the months-long legal battle between branches of government. On Feb. 22, Minnesota’s Legislature moved quickly to restore its $130 million operating budget, putting the issue to rest by vote. The House and the Senate agreed just two days into the legislative session, and Dayton followed up by signing it Monday. … The bill provides budget funding for the Minnesota Senate and House, and reimburses funding to the Legislative Coordinating Commission.”

Wait, this makes entirely too much sense. MPR’s Tim Pugmire writes: “Legislation introduced Monday at the Capitol would give Minnesota voters a say in deciding how lieutenant governor vacancies are filled. State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, is proposing a constitutional amendment allowing the governor to fill the vacancy by appointment, rather than having the presiding officer of the Senate automatically ascend to the post. Republican Michelle Fischbach became lieutenant governor in January when DFL Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate. Fischbach has refused to resign her state Senate seat and has already faced one lawsuit. Another legal challenge is expected. Marty said he wants to avoid a repeat of the current dustup.”

Getting pushy with Delta in Georgia. In the New York Times, Matthew Haag and Tiffany Hsu report, “The lieutenant governor in Georgia threatened on Monday to kill a proposed lucrative tax cut for Delta Air Lines after the company eliminated a discount fare program for the National Rifle Association over the weekend. The move by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the State Senate, immediately put the legislation in jeopardy and put him at loggerheads with other top state officials, including the governor, who had championed the tax deal.” 

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Treated like rock stars. John Lundy of the Forum News Service writes: “Olympic-sized triumph echoed from South Korea to the Duluth International Airport on Monday as four members of the gold-medal-winning U.S. men’s curling team were welcomed with cheers, chants and hugs. … What was announced as a welcoming party from the Duluth Curling Club blossomed into a community celebration, complete with balloons, U.S. flags and handmade posters.”

Meanwhile, in First Amendment news, Karen Zamora of the Strib says, “In the face of a strong police presence, dozens of protesters shouted and held signs outside the University of Minnesota building where conservative commentator Ben Shapiro was speaking Monday night. Police blocked off roads near the St. Paul Student Center and U Police Chief Matt Clark was one of about a dozen police officers at the scene. … Shapiro, a 34-year-old conservative icon and former editor of the Breitbart News, has drawn protests around the country.”

How do people in Northern Minnesota feel about arming teachers? In the Duluth News Tribune, Jana Hollingsworth says, “You won’t find much support for arming teachers among Northland educators and school leaders. ‘As a parent of three kids, I would be terrified to send my kids to school where teachers are armed,’ said Jim Carlson, an art teacher with Duluth’s Congdon Park Elementary School. ‘The whole idea … is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard’. … Laura MacArthur Elementary third-grade teacher Emily Glomski said one job of a teacher is to create a safe school culture by promoting kindness and inclusivity. Arming teachers sends the wrong message, she said. ‘We need more school counselors, psychologists and mental health practitioners,’ she said, for those who need more support.” Has Sean Hannity confirmed these people aren’t crisis actors?

Wisconsin politics are never boring. Says Sam Levine at The Huffington Post, “A Democratic group is suing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) over his refusal to call special elections for two seats in the state legislature. In December, two Republican lawmakers ― an assemblyman and a state senator ― resigned to take jobs in the Walker administration. The governor has said he won’t call a special election for the vacant seats, leaving them to be filled in the regularly scheduled November election, in order to save the state money. The winners of those two races wouldn’t be seated until January of 2019, meaning voters in their districts will go over a year without representation. Democrats contend that Walker is delaying the vote in hopes of holding on to two GOP seats after Democrats unexpectedly won a January special election in a Wisconsin district that Donald Trump had carried handily in 2016.” What we need here is more shamelessness.