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Minnesota Senate Republicans oust Gov. Tim Walz’s labor commissioner

Plus: prosecutors want four ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death to be tried jointly; AG Ellison asks court to remove Bremer trustees; Sven Sundgaard gets a new job; and more.

Commissioner Nancy Leppink
The Pioneer Press’ David Orrick and Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson write: “In a surprise maneuver Tuesday, Minnesota Senate Republicans ousted Gov. Tim Walz’s labor commissioner, an eye-popping flexing of partisan muscle that drew bitter rebukes from leading Democrats who accused Republicans of a political “ambush” on an integral figure protecting workers during the pandemic. While Republicans had previously voiced objections to Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink, Tuesday evening’s move during a brief special session of the Legislature can also be seen through the lens of pure politics: Earlier in the day, for the third time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Republican lawmakers tried and failed to deny Walz an extension of his sweeping emergency powers, which were supported by the Democratic majority in the House.”

For the Associated Press, Jeff Baenen writes: “Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to try four fired Minneapolis police officers  jointly in George Floyd’s death. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a memo arguing that evidence against the four is similar and that a single trial would spare witnesses and family members from the trauma of multiple trials. Holding one trial also would allow the community and the nation to absorb the impact of the verdicts for the four officers at once, instead of piecemeal, Ellison argued.”

A KSTP story says, “Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked a county court to remove three trustees of Otto Bremer Trust (OBT). According to a release from Ellison’s office, two petitions and a memorandum of law were filed in Ramsey County Probate Court against trustees Brian Lipschultz, Daniel Reardon, and Charlotte Johnson, detailing ‘the trustees’ serious breaches of fiduciary duty, their longstanding failure to administer the trust effectively and in accordance with the directives of its founder, and multiple violations of state laws governing charitable trusts.’”

In the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil and Libor Jany write:Two months after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced he was withdrawing from labor negotiations with the police union, the city continues to talk with them. Just without the chief involved. Arradondo made headlines across the country when he announced, a few weeks after George Floyd’s death, that he was “immediately withdrawing from the contract negotiations ….However, negotiations have not ceased. The city, state and police federation met for another mediation session last week.”

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At MPR Kathryn Styer Martinez says, “COVID-19 is hitting Black female entrepreneurs in Minnesota just like everyone else, but many missed on the federal lifeline for small businesses, in part because their operations and business relationships don’t sync with traditional banking. Black women entrepreneurs are more often underbanked than their white counterparts. This means that they don’t use bank accounts or traditional accounting practices to run their business or have easy access to small business loans. When it came time to apply for PPP loans, a lot of Black female entrepreneurs weren’t ready to apply — or received unreliable information about who qualified.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Jeffrey Meitrodt, “In Minneapolis, on a desolate lot where Don Blyly’s bookstore stood before being destroyed in the May riots, two men finish their cigarettes and then walk through a dangerous landscape filled with slippery debris and sharp objects. The city won’t let Blyly haul away his wreckage without a permit, and he can’t get a contractor to tell him how much it will cost to rebuild the store until that happens. In St. Paul, where Jim Stage’s pharmacy burned down during the same disturbances, crews have already removed the bricks and scorched timbers.… The main reason for the different recoveries is simple: Minneapolis requires owners to prepay the second half of their 2020 property taxes in order to obtain a demolition permit. St. Paul does not.”

A WCCO-TV story says, “Residents of unauthorized homeless encampments in three Minneapolis parks have been told this week to leave immediately, according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The parks were singled out due to crime, and because they weren’t among those granted temporary encampment permits. Twelve tents at both Peavey Park and Elliot Park were served notices Monday, and 14 tents were served Tuesday at Kenwood Park. MPRB officials say most residents at Kenwood and Peavey had already left the encampments. The remaining Elliot Park residents were transported, along with their belongings, to the authorized encampment at Franklin Steele Park.”

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At BringMeTheNews we learn, “One of Minnesota’s most trusted meteorologists is bringing his talents to Bring Me The News. Bring Me The News is partnering with Sven Sundgaard, the long time Twin Cities TV meteorologist, to enhance our Minnesota weather coverage.  A native of Cottage Grove who got his meteorology degree at St. Cloud State University, Sven has been a staple in Minnesota weather coverage for the past two decades, and recently launched his own YouTube channel, ‘Explore with Sven: Weather’.”

In City Pages, Jessica Armbruster reports, “The Minnesota State Fair isn’t happening in 2020. Still, there are some workarounds scheduled this summer. Food vendors have popped up at various locations around town and the Fairgrounds is hosting a (super sold-out and kinda pricey?) food experience that people can drive through. For lovers of the eats and shops at the fair’s International Bazaar, Midtown Global Market is giving you options with the Great Global Get-Together.  The free event will be a daily happening, and is scheduled to run from Thursday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 6 — the same timeframe that the 2020 State Fair would have happened.”