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Rep. John Thompson found guilty in misdemeanor obstruction case, says still weighing decision on resigning

Plus: Minneapolis Council committee moves forward with a measure giving voters power to replace police department; park board rejects redesign of the Hiawatha Golf Course for second time; smoke from wildfires thinning; and more.

Deanna Weniger writes in the Pioneer Press: “​​State Rep. John Thompson was found guilty of obstructing the legal process when he shouted at police, barred a doorway he was told to vacate and resisted arrest in a 2019 incident in Robbinsdale. A jury of six — four white women, one Black woman and one white man — reached the verdict Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court after deliberating for 3½ hours. Thompson’s obstruction conviction is a misdemeanor, which states that the defendant obstructs, resists or interferes with a peace officer while the officer is engaged in the performance of official duties.”

FOX 9 reports: “After being found guilty of a misdemeanor charge in a 2019 incident on Wednesday, Representative John Thompson says he wants to take time to consider his future in the Minnesota House. Thompson spoke outside the Hennepin County Courthouse following the conviction on the charge of obstruction a legal process and the calls for him to resign. The court case was a small part of what’s been a troubling month for Thompson’s political career. … Wednesday, Thompson said that decision is something he is still weighing. But, he says regardless of what happens, he won’t give up his fight to help marginalized people. ‘Who I fight for are people who look just like me,’ said Rep. Thompson. ‘Sometimes there are legal ramifications behind that …. I ask you with a little bit of respect for me and my family to let us have a few days and we’ll make a decision, and we’ll get back to you guys on that,’ Thompson added.

Also from FOX 9: “A Minneapolis City Council committee pushed forward on Wednesday with a measure that would give the voters power to replace the city police department. The amendment proposed and submitted by the advocacy group ‘Yes 4 Minneapolis Committee’ calls for public safety to have a ‘comprehensive public health approach’ but does not explain what that means. Under the plan, the police department would be replaced in the charter with a public safety department but doesn’t outline how the department will work or be structured. … The amendment was approved by the policy and government oversight committee by a vote of 11 to 2. It will now head to the full council for a vote. If approved by the council, it will be included on the general election ballot in November.”

This from the Star Tribune’s Susan Du, “The Minneapolis Park Board rejected a $43 million redesign of the Hiawatha Golf Course for a second time Wednesday night following a zealous debate between ecological sustainability and historic preservation. Park staff have recommended reducing the number of holes from 18 to nine in hopes of improving flood resiliency and reducing excessive groundwater pumping at the low-lying course abutting Lake Hiawatha. The 5-4 decision means the course will remain unchanged, with 18 holes.”

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Brian Bakst reports for MPR: “Minnesota lawmakers have started discussing how to recalibrate pandemic-related accommodations for members and the public heading into future sessions. In-person attendance by state lawmakers has been either restricted or considered optional amid COVID-19 concerns. Now that the Legislature is on its first extended break since early 2020, legislators are reassessing what remote activities should remain.”

Tim Harlow writes in the Star Tribune: “The deputy registrar’s office in Fairfax, Minn., is closed and its two employees are off the job after they accessed drivers’ motor vehicle records without an authorized purpose, according to the state Department of Public Safety. In an unrelated case in North Mankato, three employees at a deputy registrar’s office were stripped of their ability to access Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) data after an audit found they looked up several driver’s license and motor vehicle records — including their own records — without a lawful purpose, a DVS spokesman said Wednesday.”

Also from MPR, Paul Huttner says, “A shift in wind direction is pushing thinning wildfire smoke plumes over Minnesota Wednesday. Tuesday’s northerly winds pushed in what appears to be the highest concentration of smoke particulates on record across Minnesota. But wind direction shifted into the southeast Wednesday across Minnesota. … Our southerly wind flow continues into Thursday. The southerly wind direction will continue to thin wildfire smoke across Minnesota. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s HRRR vertically integrated smoke product shows the smoke layer thinning across Minnesota Wednesday night into Thursday.”

At KSTP-TV Eric Chaloux reports, “Minneapolis police are investigating a deadly motorcycle crash Tuesday as a possible homicide. The family of the victim identified him as 26-year-old Caleb Hutchins, of north Minneapolis. … Hutchins’ family said he was test driving the small motorcycle before the incident to possibly buy. ‘The person chasing the motorcycle was doing so very aggressively for some period of time,’ Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said on Tuesday. ‘There’s reason to believe the contact with the victim vehicle by our suspect vehicle appears to be intentional. That makes this a homicide.’ Police said they gathered information from video cameras and witnesses in the area.”

For MPR, Tim Nelson reports, “Police in Eden Prairie are going electric. As in electric vehicles. They’re rolling out a fully-outfitted Tesla that they believe is the first daily-use, all-electric police patrol car in the state. They say it’ll save tons of carbon emissions, and maybe even a little money. When it comes to guzzling gas, police vehicles are among the thirstiest on the road. Built with powerful engines, squads are used on a daily basis and they’re running almost constantly to keep radios, lights, cameras, computers and climate control systems functioning.”