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St. Paul schools considering vaccine mandate

Plus: GOP State Sen. Michelle Benson announces campaign for governor; Twin Cities couple accused of running multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme; Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson says ‘nothing obviously skewed’ about state’s 2020 election results; and more.

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

In the Star Tribune, Anthony Lonetree reports, “The St. Paul school board is weighing a proposal to make the district the state’s largest to require all staff members to either show proof of a coronavirus vaccine or submit to regular testing. Board members got their first look at the vaccine mandate Tuesday ahead of an expected vote Friday. Superintendent Joe Gothard took a firm stand behind a mandate Tuesday, citing the rise in respiratory illnesses that can occur in the fall.”

WCCO-TV’s Caroline Cummings reports: “State Sen. Michelle Benson, who has been a frequent critic of Gov. Tim Walz’s pandemic response, has announced her campaign for the Republican nomination to challenge him next November. If elected, she would become the first woman governor in Minnesota. … Benson is the latest to jump into the race, following three others: Scott Jensen, a physician and former state senator; Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy; and Neil Shah, who is also a doctor.

FOX 9’s Theo Keith reports: “Gov. Tim Walz says he’s asking Senate Republicans not to fire Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm — or any of his other agency heads — before calling a special session planned for September. At an anti-vaccine rally over the weekend, Senate Human Services chair Jim Abeler — who previously defended Malcolm — said she should be fired for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walz responded Tuesday by saying the comments gave him pause about calling the Legislature back. ‘The absurdity and recklessness and, quite honestly, dangerous talk that you would get rid of the state’s top health advisor and leader? It makes no sense. So I’m not going to put (Malcolm) in that position,’ Walz told reporters.

At WCCO-TV, Jennifer Mayerle says, “A Twin Cities couple is accused of lying to hundreds of investors in what’s being called a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme. Investigators say Jason Bullard and Angela Romero-Bullard told friends and family, including retirees, that they were investing their money. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil complaint, alleging the money went to other places, and a judge has frozen their assets. … The nearly $18 million from roughly 200 investors also apparently went to prop up their other businesses, including Empire Racing Stables, that races horses at Canterbury Park.”

For MPR, Paul Huttner says, “Another wave of wildfire smoke is drifting toward Minnesota this week. Thick plumes of smoke from California’s Caldor Fire and other blazes in the west are drifting toward the Upper Midwest. You can clearly see the thick smoke plumes on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES west visible satellite loop Tuesday.”

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Dave Orrick writes in the Pioneer Press: “On Aug. 22, Rep. Erin Koegel, DFL-Spring Lake Park, lost control of a power saw and cut off three fingers on her left hand, according to a statement she released Tuesday. … Soon after, a GoFundMe page was established online to raise money to ‘help the family with hiring a mommy’s helper/child care, food and necessities for the family while Erin recovers from this accident.’ … What raised a few eyebrows among those knowledgeable of state politics was that a number of lobbyists’ names could be seen on the donor list. That would appear to be a violation of a state law that prohibits state lawmakers and other public officials and employees from accepting most gifts worth more than $5 from lobbyists. There are exceptions, but none appear to apply for Koegel’s situation.

KSTP-TV reports, “The University of Minnesota released an eight-point safety plan Tuesday for students and staff that covers on-campus security and stepped-up patrols in neighborhoods that surround the campus. U of M Vice President of Finance and Operations Myron Frans issued the safety plan and said, ‘The health and safety of our community have been and continues to be our top priority.’ Frans’ statement said, in part, that there would be more patrols from University Police, Minneapolis Police and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office at night and on weekends.”

Also from the Pioneer Press: “The Minnesota Historical Society says it will require visitors to its museums and other properties to wear face coverings while in indoor spaces. The new policy, which takes effect Wednesday, will also coincide with extra cleaning of high-touch surfaces, the addition of hand-sanitizing stations and a renewed emphasis on social distancing. The Historical Society’s public health measures come as other institutions, businesses and governments respond to a new surge in COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreads in the state.

A Yahoo! Finance story by Hannah Levitt says, “Five years into scandals that have already cost Wells Fargo & Co. more than $5 billion in fines and legal settlements, regulators are privately signaling they’re still not satisfied with the bank’s progress in compensating victims and shoring up controls.The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have warned the firm they may bring new sanctions over the company’s pace in fulfilling those obligations, according to people with knowledge of the situation.”

At Salon, Joe Skolnik writes, “Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., an ardent promoter of Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, had a bizarre moment of clarity this week when he argued that ‘there was nothing obviously skewed’ about the 2020 election results in Wisconsin. In what appears to be an undercover video filmed by The Undercurrent at the Wauwatosa GOP Chicken Burn on Sunday, Johnson was captured trying to disillusion The Undercurrent director Lauren Windsor (who posed as a Trump supporter) from the notion that the former president lost as a consequence of systemic election fraud. … Johnson’s admission was met with shock and derision from Trump’s most diehard supporters.”

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