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Minneapolis school bus drivers vote to authorize strike

Plus: school districts in northwestern Minnesota scramble after food provider terminates contract; COVID continues to put massive strain on rural hospitals; Afghan refugees expected to arrive in Minnesota over the next three weeks; and more.

school buses
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley

A WCCO-TV story says, “School bus drivers for Minneapolis Public Schools voted unanimously to go on strike if mediation does not produce results. The bus drivers say they are not being offered adequate compensation and are concerned about safety and retention during this severe bus driver shortage. There is going to be a mediation session Dec. 1. The drivers cannot legally go on strike until 45 days after that first mediation session.”

Ryan Faircloth writes for the Star Tribune: “Several dozen school districts in northwestern Minnesota are scrambling to acquire food to feed students after their provider unexpectedly terminated its contract due to supply chain and labor shortage issues. Fifty-seven school districts that get their food through Lakes Country Service Cooperative were affected when food distributor Cash-Wa ended its contract with the cooperative earlier this month. … The Minnesota Department of Education is working to help the districts, entering into an emergency contract with a trucking company to transport some U.S. Department of Agriculture commodity foods — such as meats, produce, cheese and rice — from a warehouse in the southeast metro city of Newport to several sites Up North.”

An AP story says, “Terrance Jackson remembers driving down Lake Street in 2002 when he saw police arresting his cousin for driving with an invalid license. When he pulled over and offered to take his cousin’s car home to keep it from being towed, things went badly. One officer grabbed his hand and bent it back ‘to try to get me to react’, Jackson said. When his shoe came off as he was being restrained, another officer threw it across the parking lot. Jackson, 63, is one of more than a thousand people who have recounted their run-ins with Minneapolis police to activist groups that plan to share their stories with U.S. Justice Department officials conducting a civil rights investigation into the police force.”

Charmaine Nero reports for KARE-TV: “Mounting COVID hospitalizations are placing enormous strain on Minnesota’s small, rural hospitals, as cases continue to heavily occupy available hospital bed capacity. ‘Sauk Centre is a town of about 4,000 people here,’ said Dr. Ulrika Wigert, with CentraCare Sauk Centre. ‘Usually, we take care of, before COVID-19, about five to six patients in our hospital a day,’ said Dr. Wigert. ‘We are seeing COVID-19 patients that are much sicker, and numbers up to 13 or 14 patients in the hospital at a time that are stretching our capacity,’ said Dr. Wigert. As of last week, COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state increased to 1,245 – with close to 300 needing intensive care. The highest it’s been for the year.”

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The Star Tribune’s Jim Buchta reports, “Lots of people left Minneapolis and St. Paul last year and this year, but just as many people seemed eager to live in the two cities, new data on home sales shows. The Minneapolis and St. Paul share of all metro-wide homes sales hit a six-year high in the 12 months ended June 30, the report from the Minneapolis Area Realtors (MAR) said. And for most of those months, the sales action in the cities outpaced the suburbs, where far more people in the Twin Cities region live. But while more people sold homes in the cities, they were met by higher numbers of buyers — quashing concerns of an exodus from Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

A KARE-TV story by Eva Andersen says, “Around 250 Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in Minnesota in the next three weeks, according to the International Institute of Minnesota. Jane Graupman, the executive director, says the significant number arriving now is because Afghans who arrived at the US military bases in early September have now completed health and security clearances.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Highland Park students plan to hold a walkout against sexual assault culture within the St. Paul Public School District. Highland Park Senior High School students said the walkout will be held Monday at 9:15 a.m. to ‘bring awareness to and fight against how the school has handled reports of sexual violence in the past and present.’ The students also allege that recent incidents from the staff at the high school have created a sexual assault culture.”

Brad Dokken writes for the Forum News Service: “Three anglers have been charged for keeping too many walleyes and saugers on Lake of the Woods after conservation officers found them with 48 fish over their limit Sunday. Charged with possessing over their limit of walleyes and saugers were Michael Sysa, 22, Oak Grove, Minnesota; David Sysa, 23, Oak Grove; and Yevgeniy Simonovich, 29, Elk River, Minnesota.”

For The Business Journal, Nassir Akailvi writes, “Montevideo, the small city that sits 130 miles west from Minneapolis, has been named the state’s most affordable place to live. The ranking comes from New York-based financial and technology company SmartAsset. To compile a list of the most affordable places to live in Minnesota, the tech company used a variety of factors, including taxes, homeowner insurance and home costs relative to local median income.”

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