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Minnesota State Patrol launches crackdown on deadly driving behaviors

Plus: Twin Cities home affordability reaches lows not seen since 2004; attorney for former MPD officer says upcoming trial restrictions violate client’s constitutional rights; giant pencil sculpture taking shape near Lake of the Isles; and more.

Minnesota State Patrol car
Minnesota State Patrol

Kim Hyatt writes in the Star Tribune: “The Minnesota State Patrol launched a high-intensity patrol over fishing opener weekend in the Brainerd Lakes area, and troopers throughout the summer will target a region each weekend to crack down on deadly driving behaviors. The initiative, dubbed Project 20(22), focuses on pulling over motorists for speeding, not wearing seat belts and driving distracted or while impaired …. Two of those weekends will focus on the Twin Cities, which is already seeing increased enforcement with the patrol and BCA to assist Minneapolis police as it reels from an officer shortage and rising crime that comes with warmer weather.”

WCCO-TV reports: “The difficult Twin Cities housing market is showing no sign of getting any easier for prospective home buyers, as the latest data from Minneapolis and St. Paul Realtors indicates home affordability has reached lows not seen since 2004. … And the median sale price reached a new record $370,000, up 10% from last year, and pushing the affordability index to 95. That means the median income is 95% of the necessary income needed to qualify for a median-priced home under current interest rates.”

A KSTP-TV story says, “The public access to a lake in Dakota County has been temporarily closed after a large sewage spill. West St. Paul says Thompson Lake in West St. Paul was recently contaminated with around 70,000 gallons of sewage due to a line failure near the south end of the lake. The leak has since been stopped.”

A Star Tribune story by Andy Mannix says, “An attorney for former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng says a judge’s restrictions limiting public access at and around his coming trial violate his client’s constitutional rights. In a list of objections filed Friday, Thomas Plunkett challenged Judge Peter Cahill’s directive to bar any members of the public from watching the proceedings from inside the courtroom, calling this a ‘closure of the courtroom ‘that violates ‘Kueng’s right to an open trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.’”

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Another KMSP story, this by Courtney Godfrey says, “Vandals caused damage to artwork, granite panels, and commemorative bricks placed at a memorial honoring survivors of sexual violence in Minneapolis. Minneapolis parks officials say the damage was discovered Monday morning at the Survivors Memorial at Boom Island Park. In an email, Sarah Super with the Survivors Memorial says ‘there’s considerable destruction to the mosaics, granite panels, and donor recognition bricks.’”

Christopher Magan writes in Pioneer Press: “The Apple Valley candidate for the Minnesota Senate who left a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement convention early because she was in labor will continue her campaign to the August primary. Erin Maye Quade, a former state representative and candidate for lieutenant governor, announced Monday she would continue to seek the DFL nomination after party members endorsed her opponent Justin Emmerich. Maye Quade lost the endorsement after leaving the convention early to give birth. … For many, it represented the extraordinary challenges and sacrifices women face in politics.”

Another story from the Star Tribune’s Kim Hyatt says, “Minneapolis is dedicating $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expanding the urban tree canopy. The money will jump-start the Green Minneapolis Climate Resiliency Initiative goal to add 200,000 trees by the year 2040. City and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials announced the initiative Monday alongside Elmer the Elm Tree, the official mascot of the Forestry Department since 1976.”

At WCCO-TV Marielle Mohs tells us, “Minneapolis is known for some iconic landmarks. Things like the Spoonbridge and Cherry fountain and the Lake Harriet Band Shell. Now, another is in the works near Lake of the Isles. A giant no. 2 pencil is be sculpted out of a dead tree in John Higgins’s front yard. He’s calling it the ‘Loti Tree,’ using an acronym for Lake of the Isles, where you can find it surrounded by scaffolding on the east side of the lake right now. It was originally a giant bur oak tree that was heavily damaged in a storm back in June 2017. … With the encouragement of neighbors, Higgins decided to give new life to the dead stump.”