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CEO of MPR parent announces decision to step down

Plus: At least six GOP-endorsed candidates for Minnesota Legislature embrace QAnon; Dudley Riggs dies at 88; second train from St. Paul to Chicago gets closer to reality with federal grant award; and more.

For MPR, Catharine Richert reports: “Jon McTaggart, president and CEO of American Public Media Group, announced Tuesday he will be stepping down from his position as soon as his replacement is hired. … The decision comes on the same day a group of MPR and APM employees wrote an open letter to listeners and audiences describing a lack of faith in senior leaders. It said the company has ‘fostered a harmful working environment for women and journalists of color’ over its 53-year history. McTaggart, Brainerd and representatives from APMG, which is the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media, did not immediately respond to comment.”

The Star Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor reports:At least a half-dozen Minnesota Republicans running for state legislative seats in November have promoted the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory that includes false claims that Satanists and pedophiles run the government and that COVID-19 is part of a plot to steal the election. … Once dismissed as a fringe movement, QAnon is quickly seeping into mainstream Republican politics as scores of GOP candidates across the country express support for its ideas.”

The Pioneer Press’ Deanna Weniger writes: “A proposed second train from St. Paul to Chicago rolled a little closer to reality this week with the approval of a $31.8 million federal grant. Ramsey County commissioners involved in the project spoke about the grant approval at Tuesday’s board meeting. An official announcement is expected later this week. … The Empire Builder, an Amtrak train, currently makes a daily stop (one westbound and one eastbound) in St. Paul on its route between the Pacific Northwest and Chicago. Transit advocates have long wanted a second train between the Twin Cities and Chicago.”

Callan Gray reports for KSTP-TV: “A first of its kind testing site is opening in Duluth on Wednesday. Minnesotans will be able to get free saliva COVID-19 tests at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center five days a week. It will be open Wednesday through Friday from noon until 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging people to sign up for a slot online.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Christopher Snowbeck writes: “University of Minnesota officials are reviewing video of a large weekend gathering that violated campus rules meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Saturday night gathering, outside the four ‘Superblock’ residence halls on the Minneapolis campus, was held just before the start of in-person classes on Monday and was eventually broken up by campus police and U housing staff, the university said this week in a statement. Video posted by a student on Twitter showed people gathered close together and cheering as a young man stood atop sun-shielding for a pavilion before dropping into the crowd.”

For MPR, Brian Bakst says, “A new justice to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death would likely alter the ideological makeup of the court and potentially set a new course on abortion and reproductive health. It puts added focus on who writes Minnesota’s laws in those areas. ‘I would say the sense of urgency changed’, said Maggie Meyer, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. On the other side of the issue, Paul Stark, of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, agreed. … Stark said a reconfigured high court where justices opposed to legal abortion hold sway underscores the importance of having legislators who would enact restrictions. ‘It will affect what we can do in Minnesota in the Minnesota Legislature,’ Stark said.”

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Rohan Preston of the Star Tribune says, “Dudley Riggs, the witty showman whose name became synonymous with sketch comedy, gave Twin Citians and the world loads of laughter while providing a spawning ground for Hollywood talent. Riggs, 88, died Tuesday in Minneapolis after battling health problems. … Riggs is best known as the owner and producer of the Brave New Workshop, America’s oldest improvisational sketch comedy troupe.”

Says John Bowden for The Hill, “A Wisconsin man is suing a LaCrosse city clerk and Gov. Tony Evers (D) after he was dismissed from a paid poll worker position for refusing to wear a mask at a voting precinct, citing a medical condition. The LaCrosse Tribune reported Tuesday that Nicholas Newmann is suing Clerk Teri Lehrke as well as Evers over his Aug. 11 dismissal, which his lawyers wrote in court documents came as a result of Lehrke enforcing Ever’s statewide mask mandate which his lawyers argue is unconstitutional.”

A Reuters story says, “Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Charles Scharf exasperated some Black employees in a Zoom meeting this summer when he reiterated that the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent, two participants told Reuters. He also made the assertion in a company-wide memo June 18 that announced diversity initiatives as nationwide protests broke out following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in police custody. ‘While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from,’ Scharf said in the memo, seen by Reuters.”