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FBI: extremists scouted Minnesota Capitol ahead of upcoming rally

Plus: U.S. House calls on Pence to invoke 25th Amendment, moves toward second Trump impeachment; More than 100 city employees in Minneapolis expected to leave by end of month; Lake Street Kmart’s ‘K’ sign on the move again; and more.

Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

At MPR, Matt Sepic and Brian Bakst say, “The FBI says members of a far-right group that wants to foment a second civil war scouted out the Minnesota State Capitol ahead of a pro-Trump rally planned for this weekend. A memo to law enforcement from the FBI’s Minneapolis field office says that ‘a few Minnesota-based followers of the Boogaloo movement’ identified police sniper locations and said buildings with snipers would ‘need to be blown up’ to protect Boogaloo fighters. The Dec. 29 memo, first obtained by Yahoo News, says the group did not plot a specific attack, but would use violence if a fight broke out. … Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he plans to deploy the Minnesota National Guard to protect against potential threats to the state Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.”

In the Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach and Stephen Montemoyer write: “Violent threats against Minnesota’s political leaders are growing in frequency and intensity, a trend that started long before last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol cheered on by a crowd in St. Paul. … ‘Those of us who have been doing nothing but trying to protect people from COVID’s spread and conduct fair elections, having to put up with this level of threat is just ridiculous to me,’ said Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose role includes enforcing the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. Citing security reasons, he declined to specify the nature of certain threats that he has received in recent months, but he acknowledged that it has become serious enough to warrant changes to his daily lifestyle in response.”

The New York Times reports: “The House on Tuesday night formally called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of his powers. But Mr. Pence rejected that idea before debate on the vote even began, all but guaranteeing that the House would move forward with impeachment on Wednesday. The House will convene to debate articles of impeachment that accuse the president of “inciting an insurrection” that led to his loyalists storming the Capitol a week ago. The vote after the debate is expected to pass, with a small but significant number of Republicans joining Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump for the second time, which would make him the first president to be impeached twice.”

The Star Tribune’s Matt McKinney writes: “A sand mining company’s bid to overturn the Winona County ban on frac sand mining has failed after the U.S. Supreme Court refused its case. A lawsuit first filed by Minnesota Sands nearly four years ago sought to overturn the ban enacted in 2016, saying the moratorium was unconstitutional because it interfered with interstate commerce and violated the Constitution’s commerce clause. The ban was the first in the state to prohibit mining the rich silica sand deposits along the Mississippi River valley.”

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WCCO-TV reports: “More than 100 city of Minneapolis employees are expected to leave their positions by the end of the month. Thirty-four are from the Minneapolis Police Department. In order to balance the budget, the city offered early retirement incentives to some employees. Six-hundred-and-eighteen city employees were eligible for the early retirement program, put in place to “address financial shortfalls by reducing salary costs,” minimizing the need for additional layoffs. According to city officials, 122 — or nearly 20% — filled out paperwork, with intent to take the option by Tuesday’s deadline. That includes 34 sworn and civilian Minneapolis police employees.”

For MPR, Paul Huttner says, “I posted at length earlier today about our growingly likely winter storm for Minnesota Thursday and Friday. That looks like it could be the beginning of a bigger pattern change to colder, and possibly snowier late January, and possibly February. NOAA’s upper air forecast maps suggest the jet stream will gradually dip further south into the U.S. over the next two to three weeks. That opens the door to more frequent cold air outbreaks, and a potentially more active storm track.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Neil Justin writes, “One of this season’s competitors on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ hails from Minnesota —and wants the whole world to know it. Ethan Mundt, 25, performs under the stage name Utica Queen, a nod to growing up in Utica, Minn. In her introduction video, Utica calls her home a ‘beautiful little farm town,’ and that she’ll bring her upbringing to the contest, even if it means channeling the image of being covered in manure. Utica didn’t go quite that far in the 13th-season premiere earlier this month, which may explain why she was almost the first to go.”

In the Pioneer Press, Bob Shaw writes: “The nine-foot Kmart ‘K’ sign of Lake Elmo is for sale –  again. Sign owner Jason Pieper announced Tuesday he is selling the 900-pound letter on eBay. ‘I love it, but have nowhere to store it,’ said Pieper in a text-message. ‘The wife says it has to go by next week!’ Pieper bought the sign from the city of Minneapolis in an on-line auction in November. It had been removed from a former Kmart store on Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. … He has to sell it now, he said, because his family is moving out-of-state. ‘A 900-pound consonant does not fit into this move,’ he said.”