News Day: Ellison arrested / Fong Lee inside story / Mpls: From suspended principal to school closings / MN health cuts / more

In good company Rep. Keith Ellison was arrested Monday, along with civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, and others, as they protested at Sudan’s embassy in DC. After indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur, Bashir ordered foreign aid workers to leave the country. That cuts a lifeline for embattled Darfur, where the U.N estimates that 300,000 people have been died in the war since 2003, and 2.7 million people are receiving aid after being forced out of their homes. Ellison said:

Today, I join with my Congressional colleagues and advocates from Save Darfur and ENOUGH to demand the Government of Sudan immediately take humanitarian action on the situation in Darfur. …

We implore all countries to demand that the Government of Sudan respect and protect human rights and put an end to the acts of atrocities and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

BBC has an informative Q & A that traces the roots of the conflict and describes the International Criminal Court proceedings. More background is available at Sudan: A nation divided

Fong Lee: The inside story Hmong Today has just published a major story on the Fong Lee case, including the family’s point of view as well as a detailed analysis of the evidence released to date. The story describes the police failure to interview eyewitnesses to the chase and shooting, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s failure to investigate a complaint filed with the agency. Editor Wameng Moua notes that, “Despite Chief Dolan’s many references to an article that ran in Hmong Today, our request for an interview in regards to the Fong Lee case has been denied, “’At the request of the City Attorney.’”

The TC Daily Planet reported earlier this month that the chief gave an exclusive interview to the Strib about the legal case arising from the 2006 police shooting of Fong Lee, but did not respond to requests for interviews from the PiPress, which has reported on the family’s side of the ongoing lawsuit. Subsequently, Chief Dolan also gave exclusive interviews to MPR and KSTP.

Rallying support for Cadotte Last night, supporters gathering to protest the suspension of Burroughs principal Tim Cadotte heard that several legislators were demanding action as well:

Sen. Scott Dibble, Patricia Torres Ray, and Ken Kelash — as well as Rep. Frank Hornstein, Jeff Hayden, Paul Thissen and Speaker [Margaret Anderson] Kelliher, calls the quick move to place Cadotte on leave “alarming.” The letter added that Cadotte “must be reinstated to his position as soon as possible.”

MPR also reported receiving an email from Cadotte that read:

“I am overwhelmed at the support I have received. Sometimes you forget that there was a day you helped a first grader zip up their coat, called home for a student that forgot their lunch or double over when a student tells you a joke you have heard a hundred times but somehow it is funny all over again. I have been reminded 10 fold. I want my families to know I say ‘Thank you.'”

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Public Schools continue to move forward with a reorganization plan for 2010-2011 that would include redrawing attendance lines, reducing busing, and closing four schools: Pratt Elementary, Northrop, Longfellow and Folwell. The recommendation will be presented to the school board tonight, with a month of public hearings to follow before school board action. News stories about the plans cite the need to fix a $28 million deficit in the 2009-2010 school year, but it’s not clear how changes for 2010-2011 could do that.

As the district, school board, and community contend with the painful decisions on cuts and equally painful charges and countercharges of racism, currently focused on the Burroughs dispute, School Superintendent Bill Green sent out an op/ed article calling for reconciliation.

MN Job Watch GM cuts in dealerships and staff across the country will hit Minnesota hard:

Scott Lambert is vice president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association. He estimates that that as many as 50 of Minnesota’s 138 GM dealerships could be closed. And he says some 2,000 jobs in the state could disappear under GM’s plan to close 42 percent of its 6,200 U.S. dealerships by the end of next year.

• The Minnesota Historical Society Press is cutting four of 11 positions and decreasing the number of books it will publish by 30%, due to state budget cuts.

House, Senate slash health funding Both the House and Senate passed omnibus health and human services funding bills, and both slashed funding for health and human services. Session Daily reports:

After more than eight hours of debate, the House passed 85-49 the omnibus health and human services finance bill. HF1362 does not change eligibility requirements for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, but hospitals, long-term care facilities and those using public dental assistance would all receive reductions.

Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), the bill includes delayed rebasing for nursing homes; a 3 percent cut to long-term care facilities; a 3 percent reduction to hospitals, including reducing reimbursement rates for those on Medical Assistance and General Assistance Medical Care; and limiting personal care attendant hours to 310 per month per individual.

Senate cuts go even deeper, though not as deep as the cuts demanded by the governor.

MinnPost headline:
picture-13

Now that’s reassuring!

Bachmann: The energizer bunny Not only does she get around to dozens of talk shows – now Michelle Bachmann, who said she wanted citizens “armed and dangerous” over Barack Obama’s proposed energy tax has been appointed to the House GOP American Energy Solutions Group. And, just in time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Commiteee has launched “Bachmann Watch,” a website for fact-checking Michelle Bachmann. MnIndy reports that she’s already using the existence of the site as a basis for a new fundraising appeal.

Less help for immigrants Centro Legal closed its doors after 28 years, leaving one less place for MN immigrants to find legal aid. The burden on the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will increase, and it has committed to taking on many of the people whose cases are still open and who were previously represented by Centro Legal. Federal restrictions severely restrict the ability of most legal aid programs to serve immigrants. Some of Centro Legal’s funders will transfer grants to the Immigrant Law Center of MN, including a United Way grant for work on domestic violence issues.

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