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Prosecutors call judge’s decision to separate trials of ex-officers charged in Floyd case an ‘abuse of power’

Plus: officials say Minnesota’s vaccine lottery system being re-evaluated; Rochester schools superintendent facing new allegations of plagiarism; Warroad dads create 2.5 mile-long skate path; and more.

Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Hennepin County Jail

In the Star Tribune, Chao Xiong writes: “Prosecutors in the George Floyd case took the unusual step Thursday of asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to intervene after a lower court twice refused their request to hold one trial in the summer for all four ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in the case. … ‘The District Court’s decision … to proceed with two trials creates a serious public health risk,’ Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank wrote in his request to the Court of Appeals. ‘ … District Court’s decision violates the law and threatens serious harms to public health.’ Frank wrote that Cahill’s decisions were ‘a clear abuse of power.’ Cahill presides over both trials.”

Theo Keith a FOX 9 says, “Minnesota’s health commissioner declined to commit to opening the state’s lottery system next week for seniors to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine, as state officials signal major changes are ahead in the vaccination effort. The state’s nine pilot vaccination sites will be re-evaluated as health officials plan to send more doses to clinics and pharmacies to deliver shots closer to patients, Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. More than 226,000 people ages 65 and older signed up for just 9,400 available slots during Tuesday’s registration period.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil writes, “Minneapolis would keep police officers but remove the requirement to have a minimum number of them, under a proposal unveiled Thursday by a trio of City Council members. The plan, which would require approval from voters, calls for the city to replace its Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that would include police officers and ‘additional divisions … to provide for a comprehensive approach to public safety beyond law enforcement.’”

MPR’s Brandt Williams writes: “Whether it’s called rent stabilization or rent control, the measure is designed to set limits on the rates at which housing costs can grow. The Minneapolis City Council is expected to start the process Friday toward regulating rent increases. … City leaders and residents will get an opportunity to learn more about a policy, which is in place in fewer than 200 U.S. cities. … ‘I think any fair reading of the research in this area would have to come to the conclusion that evidence is mixed,’ said Ryan Allen, director of the urban and regional planning program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.”

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Erin Golden writes for the Star Tribune: “Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz is facing new allegations of plagiarism, two months after he apologized — and had his pay docked — for plagiarizing most of his Thanksgiving message to school staff. After Muñoz’s apology and the school board’s vote to suspend him for five days, a parent in the district found other possible examples of plagiarism. … Significant sections of graduation speeches Muñoz delivered in 2019 and 2020, as well as an April letter to students and families about COVID-19, appear to include multiple passages lifted from letters and speeches written by other educators around the country.”

For the Pioneer Press, Ross Raihala writes: “One of the hottest movies on Netflix right now is ‘Homefront,’  a 2013 action flick that earned decidedly mixed reviews and pulled in a mere $51.7 million at the box office. And no one is more surprised by this than Chuck Logan, the Stillwater author who wrote the book that inspired it. ‘It was an incredible surprise,’ said Logan, a former Pioneer Press graphic artist. He had no idea the film was such a hit until a neighbor texted him on Sunday to tell him it was the second-most watched movie on Netflix. Later that day, it hit No. 1 and has remained in the Top 10 in the days since.”

For MPR, Steven John and Megan Burks report: “With school in session virtually and more time spent at home, Jared Olafson’s and his neighbor’s kids thought it would be fun to connect their two ice rinks on the Warroad River. Their dads got to work — and then kept going. They’ve now connected seven rinks and cleared even more ice, creating a skate path that spans 2.5 miles. They call it the Riverbend Skate Path. ‘It’s been phenomenal. With this mild winter that we’ve been having, there’s people on it day and night,’ Olafson said. ‘It’s getting to be where I’ll look out and there will be headlamps bobbing along at 10 o’clock at night.’”

For The Independent, Danielle Zoellner reports, “Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon-supporting Republican who is known for pushing conspiracy theories and making racists comments, previously tried to force Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to retake their congressional oaths on the Bible. Video footage surfaced on Wednesday of Ms Greene walking through the halls of Congress prior to being elected as a Georgia representative. In the footage, she was claiming that Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib were illegitimate Democratic representatives because they took their oaths of office on the Quran instead of the Bible. ‘We’re going to explain about how you can’t swear in on the Quran,’ Ms Greene said in the footage. ‘We’re going to have the Bible and ask them if they would swear in on the Bible … I think that’s important.’”

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