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Severe storms bring wind, rain, hail and power outages to Twin Cities

Plus: report says Big Ten conference will attempt to move football season to spring; nurse suing St. Paul hospital over getting fired for wearing scrubs while caring for COVID-19 patients; bear spotted roaming St. Thomas campus; and more.

Andrew Krueger writes for MPR: “Round after round of severe storms brought large hail, damaging winds and torrential rain to the Twin Cities metro area late Sunday into early Monday. The storms also sparked nearly continuous lightning and thunder for much of the night across the metro area. Winds gusted to 61 mph at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. As of 4 a.m., Xcel Energy reported more than 7,300 homes and businesses without power in the wake of the storms, mostly in the south and west metro.”

The Star Tribune’s David Chanen writes: “Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey continues to work with the Police Department to change a departmental policy that would limit new officers’ early exposure to those with a history of sustained misconduct complaints. The mayor and Police Chief Madeira Arradondo have been discussing the move for months, long before the city Charter Commission voted last week to delay putting an amendment on the November ballot to replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.”

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jeff Potrykus: “The Big Ten Conference has decided to attempt to move the league’s 2020 football season to the second semester. Multiple sources told the Journal Sentinel that an announcement is expected early this week. According to multiple reports, Big Ten presidents and chancellors were scheduled to meet Sunday to discuss the league’s plans for shutting down fall sports because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. … However, league officials would have to overcome myriad obstacles to hold even a modified season in the spring.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Erin Golden, “Districts across Minnesota have begun to announce their reopening plans for the new school year, with many opting for a ‘hybrid’ blend of in-person instruction and distance learning. In the Twin Cities metro area and beyond, several of the state’s largest districts, including Anoka-Hennepin, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Osseo, Mounds View and St. Cloud, intend to start the year in a hybrid format — provided they don’t see a local spike in COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks.”

A WCCO-TV story says, “A man may have gotten more than he bargained for after trying to rob a smoke shop Saturday night in south Minneapolis. Fouad Elharfaoui owns USA Smoke Shop near Hiawatha Avenue and 46th Street. He says the robbery happened just before closing. ‘Two guys walked in with a gun and tried to rob [my employee], but he has a concealed weapon and he pulled it out and tried to defend himself,’ Elharfaoui said. … According to Elharfaoui, his employee fired at the robbers’ car as they drove away, and hit the man in the passenger seat. Minutes later, a barely-conscious man stumbled into the Super USA convenience store at 38th Street and Minnehaha Avenue, a little more than a mile from USA Smoke Shop.”

The Star Tribune’s Joe Carlson says, “As the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up aggressively in Minnesota in May, Cliff Willmeng was fired from his job as an Emergency Department nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul. His offense? Wearing hospital-issued scrubs on duty while caring for COVID-19 patients, and then defying the hospital policy against nurses wearing uniforms that the hospital has to launder. Willmeng is suing the 546-bed hospital to get his job back, saying his actions were compelled by personal safety, and the policy behind his May 8 firing was nonsensical. He joins a burgeoning group of hospital workers nationally filing lawsuits in response to what they see as pressure from hospitals to unreasonably lower safety standards for workers on the front lines of pandemic care.”

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Says a story on FOX 9, “Minneapolis residents took to the streets Sunday to protest against plans for the Gordon Shelter. Dozens gathered at the area where the shelter would be built. They voiced their opposition for the project. The city plans to build the center in the Willard-Hay neighborhood of Minneapolis to provide shelter for women experiencing homelessness. Protesters claim their voices are being ignored as they were never a part of the conversation to place the shelter in their neighborhood. Residents say they’ve spent years calling for the building to become a youth services center for early childhood education instead.”

Says April Baumgarten in the Grand Forks Herald, “North Dakota is ramping up efforts to get every college and university student tested for coronavirus, but Minnesota is advising its higher education schools against it. Why do two neighboring states have differing stances on testing? Experts say it depends on a number of factors, including the ability to test.”

The AP is saying, “Whether President Trump has the constitutional authority to extend federal unemployment benefits by executive order remains unclear. Equally up in the air is whether states, which are necessary partners in Trump’s plan to bypass Congress, will sign on. … But under Trump’s plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100. That could add up to hundreds of millions, or even several billion dollars. Many states are already facing budget crunches caused by the pandemic.”

Says Paul Walsh for the Star Tribune, “A jogger maintained social distance — and then some — Sunday morning before reporting that a bear was roaming near the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas. Someone who lives near the campus flagged down a St. Thomas security member about 7:55 a.m. and said there was a black bear near Summit Monument Park along Mississippi River Boulevard, a school spokeswoman said. That’s just to the west of campus. By the time the security officer got to the scene, he believed he caught a glimpse of the back end of the bear as it headed toward the woods near the river, the spokeswoman said.”