News Day: Cops, guns, unanswered questions / Tough talk on the hill / Urban chickens / Media misinformation, more

Cops, guns, unanswered questions Why won’t Chief Dolan talk to the Pioneer Press? Why has Mpls police officer refused to sign an affidavit prepared by the Mpls city attorney and retained a private attorney? How can the Police Community Relations Council –dissolved by the City of Minneapolis months ago — petition the Justice Department now? These are just a few of the questions in the continuing saga of the Minneapolis police shooting of teenage Fong Lee in 2006. No answers to any of these questions, but you can read about more twists and turns in the gun saga from the PiPress, the report of the PCRC complaint from Fox 9, and the exclusive interviews Dolan gave to the Strib, MPR, and KSTP. Did anyone say “softball” interviews?

Earlier this week, Dolan sat for interviews with the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, and on Thursday, he was interviewed by KSTP. It does not appear that he was asked about Adams’ refusal to give an affidavit for the city or his hiring of a lawyer.

Tough talk on the Hill According to Politics in Minnesota, DFL legislators have issued a “stern warning” to the governor: “budget negotiations should be transparent, and he’d better not plan on the Legislature sending him a second batch of finance bills if he vetoes the first ones.” Not at all clear what weight the warning carries, since a veto override seems unlikely and their only other option seems to be deadlock, with no legislation enacted into law.

MN Job Watch Minnesota’s jobless rate hit 8.2 percent in March, with a total number of 242,700 officially unemployed workers. The national average is 8.5 percent (always with the caveat that this figure represents the most conservative estimate, and that a measure including “discouraged workers” and people working part-time because they can’t get full-time work would be almost double the reported figure.) Minnesota employers cut 23,200 jobs in March, compared to xx jobs lost in February. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent.

Is there any good news? Well, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that NEW unemployment claims were 610,000, a decrease of 53,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 663,000.

The Rochester school district will cut 78 teachers and 12 clerical employees, reports MPR.

The Minnesota Historical Society will lay off 94 full and part-time employees and cut hours for another 223 on July 1, in a drastic move affecting 46 percent of its employees, reports the Strib. That will also mean closing Historic Forestville in Preston, the North West Company Fur Post in Pine City and the Charles Lindbergh home in Little Falls, and cuts in hours and days at other sites, including Fort Snelling.

In St. Cloud, city budget cuts mean closing four wading pools and not hiring 20 lifeguards, reports MinnPost, as the city’s Recreation Department cuts $400,000 from its $1.6 million 2009 budget.

At the intersection of history and LRT Ramsey County wants to buy Union Depot and turn it into a transportation hub for rail, buses, bikes, and taxis, reports the PiPress. The proposed $8.1 million purchase of the property facing 4th Street (housing Christos restaurant and apartments) would add to last year’s $45-50 millon deal for the depot’s rear concourse and nine acres of adjacent land. Union Depot is a landmark in downtown St. Paul:

The Union Depot was built between 1918 and 1923 on the site of an earlier train station that burned in 1915. During its heyday, the depot had nine railroads operating, with more than 20 million pieces of mail passing through the station annually. At its peak, 280 passenger trains rumbled through each day.

Girl Scout discrimination alleged A former Duluth Girl Scout exec claims she was “directed to discipline, demote and fire employees and volunteers based on their sexual orientation and that she suffered discrimination when she refused,” reports the PiPress. Elizabeth Niemi was CEO of Northern Pines Council in Duluth, which has now been merged with the former St. Cloud-based Land of Lakes Council to form the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines. Niemi’s civil rights lawsuit alleges that she was passed over for the position of CEO of the merged council because of her objections to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and because of her age.

Spy stories Now the National Security Agency has been caught spying on at least one Congress member, reports the NYT, and that may inspire Congress to investigate the warrantless wiretapping authorized under the Patriot Act, and the latest escapades which go even beyond the overreaching provisions of that legislation.

As part of that investigation, a senior F.B.I. agent recently came forward with what the inspector general’s office described as accusations of “significant misconduct” in the surveillance program, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Those accusations are said to involve whether the N.S.A. made Americans targets in eavesdropping operations based on insufficient evidence tying them to terrorism.

Chicken talk Chickens are invading the suburbs, reports AP, as more suburbanites try theire hand at feeding flocks for eggs or meat or fun. The TC Daily Planet has the scoop on chicken farming in Minneapolis, in a video complete with veterinary advice for urban chicken farmers.

Lights, Cameras, Mayhem! media reporting on “spillover” from Mexican drug violence have it absolutely, totally wrong. In fact, the Texas Observer reports, the national media are deliberately reporting the opposite of the truth:

[It’s] the twisted perception created by border-warrior politicians and national news media, and foisted on Juarez’s relatively peaceful sister city. For El Pasoans and residents of nearby border towns, it might all be a mere oddity—maybe even worth a chuckle—if it didn’t mean the construction of 18-foot border walls, blustery talk about National Guard troop surges, and new resources for the disastrous war on drugs. While “troop surge,” “border wall,” and “drug war” might sound irresistibly sexy to politicians and pundits, it’s border residents who have to live with the fences and tanks and consequences. …

According to the FBI, more than 1,600 people were killed by cartel violence in Juarez in 2008. El Paso, a city of 755,000, recorded just 18 murders last year. Laredo had 11; Brownsville and McAllen had three and nine, respectively. By comparison, Washington, D.C., with a population smaller than El Paso’s, had 186 homicides in 2008.

Sito Negron, editor of El Paso’s online daily news journal, Newspaper Tree, fed up with the mainstream media misinformation, lashed back with an op/ed titled “Who are you idiots, and why are you on national television talking about the border? An open letter to U.S. media”

Daily Show and NYT report If you get your news from Jon Stewart, you already heard what the NYT reported: “Edward M. Liddy, the dollar-a-year chief executive leading the American International Group since its bailout last fall, still owns a significant stake in Goldman Sachs, one of the insurer’s trading partners that was made whole by the government bailout of A.I.G.”

Baseline Scenario responds:

Have we completely lost of sense of what is and is not a conflict of interest? Have we really built a system in which greed fully overshadows responsibility? Is it not time for a complete rethink of what constitutes acceptable executive behavior?

Updates on yesterday’s news

Take that, WSJ A day after reports in the Wall Street Journal and dismayed responses from much of the (liberal? left? progressive?) political spectrum, President Obama went right ahead and did what WSJ said he wouldn’t do: released the full text of the Bush Justice Department “torture memos.”

All power to Big Power Right on schedule, as usual, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved all the power lines that Big Power asked for — this time the $1.7 billion CapX 2020 proposal to build three long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines. The PiPress notes: “The five-member board unanimously rejected an attempt to introduce testimony that residential energy demand is dropping and the large transmission lines may not be necessary.”

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