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State of Minnesota sues after tobacco company stops settlement payments

Plus: former Minneapolis FBI agent charged over leaked documents; Minnesota food company recalls chicken that may be contaminated with plastic; Rocori superintendent may have exposed himself more than a dozen times; and more.

REUTERS/David W Cerny

Pay up. KSTP-TV’s story says, “It was one of the largest legal cases in Minnesota history. More than 20 years ago, the state of Minnesota took on big tobacco…and won. Part of the settlement agreement in that case required tobacco companies to pay the state every year forever. But now the state is suing because some of those payments have stopped.  A lawsuit has been filed against ITG Brands, a company that acquired big tobacco brands like Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick. The suit claims ITG ‘has not joined the state’s tobacco settlement and payments are not being made on sales of the transferred brands.’ Big tobacco means big money to Minnesota. The suit claims the past five payments from manufacturer defendants have been approximately $170 million dollars per year. Wednesday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton said state attorney general Lori Swanson should do what it takes to get the state paid.” 

Stribber Stephen Montemayor reports, “A former Minneapolis FBI agent who sought to expose what he called ‘systemic biases’ within the bureau has been charged after allegedly leaking secret documents to a national news reporter, according to federal criminal charges filed in Minnesota this week. … A two-page felony information, a charging document that typically signals an imminent guilty plea, outlines two counts filed against Terry James Albury of unlawfully disclosing and retaining national defense information. … In a statement Wednesday, attorneys JaneAnne Murray and Joshua Dratel said Albury would be taking responsibility for the charges, while also hinting at his motivations.”

Plenty of cars with drivers that shouldn’t be on the road. An AP story says, “Four state senators want to prevent driverless vehicles from being tested in Minnesota until their developers can prove they’re safe. Republican Sen. Jim Abeler says the death of a woman who was struck by a self-driving vehicle in Tempe, Arizona last week confirmed his concerns about the technology.”

In the Grand Forks Tribune, Nick Broadway reports, “A recent study says 2,500 children in Minnesota aren’t getting the daycare they need. In the last 12 years, greater Minnesota lost a quarter of its daycare centers, according to a recent study by the Center for Rural Policy and Development. ‘We want to see more of that common sense approach. That’s what we’re asking for, a common sense approach,’ said Kay Heidrich, Trinity Lutheran Daycare Director. Every few months, daycare director Heidrich gets a new list of regulations from the Twin Cities, which are kept in binders. She said daycares across the state, including hers, are constantly written up for minor violations.”

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Tastes like chicken, though. Another AP story says, “A Minnesota food company is recalling 48 tons of canned chicken products that may be contaminated with hard plastic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Wednesday that Tony Downs Food Co. of Madelia issued the recall. The canned chunk chicken breast items were produced on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, 2017. The recall involves 12.5-ounce cans and 50-ounce cans of Member’s Mark chicken breast … .”

Okay, it’s Opening Day. Here are predictions for the Twins from (not entirely objective) Fox Sports North. “Twins will win a playoff series: Minnesota snapped a six-year postseason drought last season when it snuck into the playoff picture as the American League’s second wild card. But to see Minnesota win a series? You’d have to travel back to the days of Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter and Doug Mientkiewicz in 2002. Making the playoffs this season are far from a guarantee, but additions to the roster such as Jake Odorizzi and Logan Morrison and another offseason of development for budding stars like Buxton and Jose Berrios should have the Twins in the thick of things come September.” 

A creature of habit, it seems. Kirsti Marohn at MPR says, “Police investigating the superintendent of the Rocori school district in central Minnesota say he may have exposed himself more than a dozen times at different stores in the St. Cloud area in recent months.”