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Gazelka resigns from Senate majority leader post

Plus: Mike Freeman won’t seek re-election as Hennepin County Attorney; Minnesota National Guard unit involved in Afghanistan evacuation; northern Minnesota hospitals filling up amid COVID wave; and more.

Senate Majority Paul Gazelka
Senate Majority Paul Gazelka

He’s running. WCCO reports:Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his role in leading the Senate Republican Caucus, perhaps signaling that he’ll soon join the race for governor. … In a statement to his colleagues, Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) wrote that outside of his family and faith, leading the caucus has been the ‘most rewarding experience of my life.’ ”

He’s not running. MPR reports:Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday he will not seek a new term next year. … Freeman, the son of a former Minnesota governor, has direct links to the founding of the DFL Party and ran for governor unsuccessfully in 1998. … He has been a constant in some of the state’s highest-profile prosecutions, including the prosecution of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor for the killing of 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk. … Throughout his career, Freeman has drawn criticism as well as protests outside of his home over decisions to not file charges against Minneapolis police officers who’ve killed civilians. He would likely have faced a hard-fought reelection battle next year.”

Final mission. KSTP’s  Josh Skluzacek reports:More than 400 Minnesota National Guard soldiers provided support at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan before the U.S. completely evacuated, ending the 20-year war. … The National Guard said over 400 soldiers from the Task Force 1-194, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division deployed to the airport less than two weeks ago. There, they provided perimeter security and provided humanitarian assistance to U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa holders and their families.”

Hospitals filling up up north. The Duluth News Tribune’s Andee Erickson reports:Northland hospitals are nearing capacity again as new COVID-19 cases take off, but unlike previous surges, hospitals have more non-COVID-19 patients to care for and more staffing constraints due to burnout. … ‘This is a really big deal,’ Dr. Andrea Boehland, an emergency department doctor at Essentia Health in Duluth, said. ‘We think it’s our duty to let you know about the situation. When hospital capacity becomes tight like this, our ability to care for patients with any kind of health problem is put at risk.’”

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Big piece in the New York Times Magazine this week about Ojibwe drum societies, focused on Minnesota. David Treuer writes: “I grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota; Jim’s place was roughly an hour and a half southwest, on the White Earth Reservation. Our reservations are close and closely related: Both house the same tribe (the Ojibwe, also known as the Chippewa), we share the same homelands and our religious societies are intertwined. White Earth was originally made by strong-arming families to move there from the Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Turtle Mountain and Fond du Lac reservations, so we are related by blood too. My family was part of that coercive migration, and most of my family is officially enrolled at White Earth, though none of us have ever lived there. … I only know Jim at all because we had been a part of the Big Drum. Ojibwe Big Drum society, or ‘drum,’ as we call it, is a large, loud, social healing ceremony that takes place in dance halls designated specifically for that purpose in communities mostly in Minnesota and Wisconsin, throughout the year. To be seated on a drum, to be a member of the society, is both an honor and a profound, lifelong duty.”

In other news…

PSA:St. Paul Fire Dept. speaks out amid rise in dangerous urban exploration incidents” [KARE]

A Black-owned bank:First Independence Bank opens Twin Cities branch” [PUBLICATION]

Crappie way to die:What killed Lake Agnes fish? DNR now pointing to low oxygen” [Echo Press]

Amazing what a little sunshine will reveal:Minnesota solar installer charged with swindling dozens of customers” [Star Tribune]

They’ll truly be our own goals:Minnesota Women’s Soccer Becomes First Community-Owned Women’s Team In U.S.” [WCCO]

Up in smoke:Travail’s BBQ joint in Northeast Minneapolis to close in October” [Bring Me The News]