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Annual salary for Minnesota State Fair boss: $350,000

Plus: St. Paul schools CFO lauded for transparency is fired; a new fungal pathogen affects apples; Trump reacts to Lindell cell phone seizure; and more.

Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer
Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball

For the Strib, Rochelle Olson reports, “Longtime Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer revealed publicly Wednesday that he makes $350,000 a year. Hammer released the information in response to a written request from the Star Tribune for a preview of this year’s fair that ran in August. When asked earlier, fair staff had said Hammer’s salary isn’t public under state law, but he said he decided recently to release it. As a quasi-governmental operation, the State Fair isn’t subject to the same open-records laws as most state offices. For example, the salaries of state employees and elected officials are public information. The fair is overseen by the State Agricultural Society and doesn’t receive a direct state subsidy. Hammer, who has run the fair for 25 years, operates on a year-to-year contract and his salary comes from operating revenue.”

Josh Verges at the Pioneer Press reports, “St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard has fired his finance chief, Marie Schrul, whose transparency about the district’s missteps made her popular with district watchdogs but less so among fellow administrators. Schrul, 49, started working for the district in 1998 as an accountant, rising to controller and then chief financial officer in 2014. Her most recent title was chief of finance and business affairs, one of five positions on Gothard’s senior executive leadership team. The district on Aug. 24 listed an opening for a new position, executive chief of financial services, and Gothard told Schrul on Monday that she was not chosen. Gothard told employees on Wednesday that the new job — which was open for just five days — went to Tom Sager, business services director for Mankato Area Public Schools. … Business office management assistant Laurie Niblick said … Schrul has raised concerns about overspending on construction projects and questionable spending by the nutrition department, but district leaders never seemed to prioritize doing anything about it.”

At BringMeTheNews, Tommy Wiita says, “Police are investigating an incident where a group of non-students reportedly entered a Minneapolis school building Wednesday morning. The incident happened at Thomas Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis, with a Minneapolis Public Schools spokesperson saying a ‘group of young people’ who are not students entered the building, where they were ‘immediately approached by school staff and left without incident’. … The incident sparked an alert at neighboring St. Anthony-New Brighton Public Schools, which implemented a lockdown at St. Anthony Community Services, Wilshire Park Elementary, St. Anthony Middle, and St. Anthony Village High Schools.”

An AP story says, “A judge in Minnesota has ruled that sheriff’s officials had no right to block access to a camp set up in opposition to the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. In an order issued Tuesday, Hubbard County District Judge Jana Austad ruled the pipeline protesters were using a private driveway, not a county trail, to access Camp Namewag near Menahga. In June 2021, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes served notice on American Indian activist Winona LaDuke and Tara Houska, who manages the site, that the road to the camp was a county-owned trail which would be barricaded and that those who drove on it would be arrested.”

For MPR News, Matthew Holding Eagle III says, “A fungal pathogen that affects apple and crabapple trees, as well as junipers, has been found in Minnesota for the first time. The state Department of Agriculture reported Japanese apple rust was found during inspections of orchards and nurseries in Scott, Rice and Dakota counties. Surveys are being conducted to see how far the disease has spread. The fungal pathogen can cause defoliation of trees. Minnesota Department of Agriculture plant pathologist Michelle Grabowski said affected trees may struggle to produce fruit.”

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For CBS News, Aimee Picchi reports, “Amtrak said it is canceling all long-distance trips starting on Thursday amid a looming railway strike that could disrupt the U.S. economy, resulting in lost productivity of $2 billion a day.  The potential work stoppage stems from a labor dispute between railroad companies and their unionized workforces. If the two sides aren’t able to come to an agreement this week, the strike could begin Friday.  A Labor Department spokesperson told CBS News on Wednesday evening that dinner had been ordered and the talks in Washington among federal officials, railroad executives and railroad worker union leaders are ongoing.”

For CBS Sports, John Breech says, “Normally when I’m making a pick in a Monday night game that involves Kirk Cousins, my first instinct is to automatically pick against him. Cousins is 2-9 all-time in Monday games, but both of those wins came against the Bears, so I’m not sure they even count. At some point over the past five years, Cousins became the new Andy Dalton AKA the one quarterback you absolutely can not trust to win a prime-time game. Even though I have no faith in Cousins, I do have faith in everyone else around him, which I think cancels out the fact that I don’t trust Cousins in Monday night games. … The pick: Vikings 23-20 over Eagles.”

At The Daily Beast, Allison Quinn tells us, “Donald Trump had a meltdown on Truth Social late Tuesday after MyPillow exec Mike Lindell said his cellphone had been confiscated by the feds while he was dining out at a Hardee’s restaurant. ‘Breaking News: Mike Lindell, ‘THE Pillow Guy,’ was just raided by the FBI. We are now officially living in a Weaponized Police State, Rigged Elections, and all,’ the twice-impeached former president wrote. He went on to declare, ‘Our Country is a laughing stock all over the World. The majesty of the United States is gone. Can’t let this happen. TAKE BACK AMERICA!’”

For The Huffington Post, Jennifer Bendery writes, “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is currently trailing in his reelection bid, said Thursday that his message to Wisconsin voters is that if they love America, they should vote for him. ‘If you love this nation and are concerned about its future, join us,’ Johnson said in an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, making his pitch to voters. ‘Join us in unifying and healing and saving this nation. That’s what we need to do.’ … During his Thursday interview with Hewitt, Johnson said he is ‘so depressed’ that Biden hasn’t done more to bring Americans together — and then tried to downplay the Capitol insurrection by making false claims about Black Lives Matter protests. ‘Let’s be honest. It is the left that is dividing this nation. It has always been the left that divides this nation,’ he said. ‘You know, they want to concentrate on January 6th, which we all condemned, but they want to completely ignore and bury the 8,000 largely peaceful protests. But 570 of those things turned into riots, injured 2,000 law enforcement officers, $1 to $2 billion dollars’ worth of property damage, a couple dozen people died.’ Johnson has made these false claims before. They’re so wildly wrong that they drew a Washington Post ‘fact check’ and earned ‘three Pinocchios.’”