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Newly released emails raise more questions about critical PolyMet permit

Plus: Minnesota’s obesity rate goes up; R. Kelly doesn’t show for hearing in Minnesota case; debate over rocks rocks North Shore; rabid bat found in downtown Minneapolis, and more.

PolyMet Mining hopes to build one of the state’s first copper-nickel mine.
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
The Star Tribune’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes: “Minnesota’s controversial handling of a critical water permit for the PolyMet Mining copper-nickel project appears to have involved the very highest officials of the state Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), according to newly-released documents. … Minnesota environmentalists have accused top officials at the two agencies of cooperating to suppress concerns raised by federal regulators by reading their comments over the phone rather than including them in the written public record on the permit. The direct involvement of John Linc Stine, then commissioner of the MPCA, was revealed in e-mails obtained by the St. Paul conservation group WaterLegacy.”

For MPR, Tim Nelson and Chris Graves write: Even as St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III and his father were decrying the gun violence that left three men dead in nine hours in the capital city this week, police still had not located a handgun stolen from the elder Carter’s car late last month, police and court records show. Melvin Carter, Jr., 70, reported his .380 Glock handgun stolen from his locked car, which was parked in the YWCA parking lot in the 300 block of Selby Avenue on Aug. 27. … ‘I’d like to publicly apologize to my son and my wife (Ramsey County commissioner Toni Carter), and the community at large for putting them in this situation,’ he said.”

For the Pioneer Press, Christopher Magan writes: Minnesota adults are getting heavier and it is putting their health at risk. The obesity rate for adults in Minnesota jumped from 28.4 percent in 2017 to 30.1 percent last year, according to the state Department of Health. The state’s rate is now less than 1 percentage point below the 30.9 national adult obesity rate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

For the Star Tribune, Marissa Evans writes: “On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance that would limit the ability of landlords to screen the backgrounds of tenants. … Property owners have spoken out about the potential costs, both financial and emotional, if they have to take on tenants who have a criminal past or a history of unpaid rent. Smaller landlords like Pierce say the restrictions hit them especially hard because they have less of a margin if they take on a destructive tenant.”

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From the AP: “Singer R. Kelly was a no-show for an initial court appearance in a Minnesota case in which he is accused of offering a 17-year-old girl $200 to take off her clothes and dance in 2001. Kelly, who is jailed in Chicago on sexual abuse and other counts, was charged in Minnesota in August with soliciting the girl after meeting her before a concert in Minneapolis.”

MPR’s Dan Kraker writes: Without warning, [Anna] Bennett had waded into a debate that’s exploded in the past several years among a certain segment of outdoor enthusiasts, over cairns. That’s right — over literal piles of rocks. It’s an argument that’s raged from Utah’s Zion National Park to Acadia National Park in Maine to the British Isles. Now it’s spread to Minnesota’s North Shore, where on one side people say the rock piles are like graffiti, despoiling the natural landscape … To which the other camp says: Chill out. They look cool, they’re relaxing to build. And they eventually get knocked down by wind and waves, anyway.

WCCO-TV reports: “According to an American Farm Bureau Federation study, more than 90% of farmers say financial issues impact their mental health. Which is why the University of Minnesota Extension has created a Rural Stress Task Force. The task force connects farmers with resources if they simply need someone to talk with about their anxiety or stress.”

Miguel Otárola writes in the Strib: “Despite earlier skepticism about bolstering the ranks of the Minneapolis Police Department, City Council members sounded more supportive Thursday of Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposal to add 14 new officers, most of whom would be assigned to neighborhood beats. At Thursday’s budget committee meeting, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo outlined how the officers would be deployed, saying they would help regain the trust of communities that have strained relationships with police.”

KSTP-TV reports: “The University of Minnesota Board of Regents is set to review an agreement to buy the Shriners Hospital building in Minneapolis.The docket for Friday’s meeting states the Board of Regents will vote to give authorization to purchase the property at 2025 East River Parkway to use for the university’s Institute of Child and Adolescent Brain Health. The docket states the purchase price for the property will be $22.5 million, and preliminary cost estimates for renovations range from $24.5 million to $33 million.”

The St. Cloud Times’ Jenny Berg writes: “St. Cloud City Council may have violated Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law Monday when members voted to censure a colleague using private ballots. The council approved censuring George Hontos on a confidential 4-2 vote after Hontos wrote a letter to the editor in the St. Cloud Times criticizing changes to the public comment procedure at council meetings. … Mark Anfinson, an attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, said the law is clear that a public body cannot vote by secret ballot.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Officials say a bat found Tuesday in downtown Minneapolis has tested positive for rabies.The bat was found near the corner of Marquette Avenue and 6th Street. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a group of colleagues saw the bat around 1 p.m., captured it and brought it to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.”