News Day: Gang Strike Force head leaves /Feeding the beast /Baby ducks, attack hawks, naked biking /MN budget blues / more

MGSF_logoOmodt escapes from Gang Strike Force Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has called a news conference for this morning to explain why Hennepin County Captain Chris Omodt is leaving his post at the head of the Gang Strike Force. Omodt, who was brought in to clean up a bad situation, could just be giving it up as an impossible job. The latest revelations and accusations from the Strib:

The Strike Force chairman, who is also chief of the West St. Paul police department, asked officers not to seize his car after it may have been used by his daughter and her boyfriend in a home invasion. …

The daughter was arrested by St. Paul police later in January on a drug charge, but instead of the vehicle being impounded and searched, it was released to Shaver, who is also chief of the West St. Paul Police Department.

Strike Force investigator John McManus, in a February police report, said that Shaver had asked him to make Shaver’s daughter’s boyfriend “a priority” for investigation, so that he could get the boyfriend “out of his daughter’s life.”

More details from Fox 9, which broke the story:

Her boyfriend, Todd Anderson is a sexual predator and alleged gang member, suspected of using a baseball bat in a home invasion in Hudson, Wisconsin to collect money for drugs, all while driving a car registered to Chief Shaver.

According to police reports, at a meeting of the Metro Gang Strike Force, Shaver asked that if they did catch his daughter that the officer contacts him. The Gang Strike Force was staking out a motel on University Avenue where the couple was allegedly dealing methamphetamine.

Feeding the beast in Minneapolis Hennepin County wants to burn more garbage in the HERC incinerator, and that doesn’t sit well with lots of people. Critics cite increased emissions of pollutants, saying current limits are already too high. They also say that increasing garbage burning means less focus on recycling. MPR quotes Rep. Frank Hornstein:

“They need to feed the beast as it were, so there’s very little incentive for the county, once that incinerator’s up, to be very, very aggressive on recycling which they need to be,” Hornstein said.

The request for an increase, already turned down by the Minneapolis Planning Commission, comes before the Minneapolis City Council Planning and Zoning Commission on an appeal next Thursday.

More bad news for MN budget Politics in Minnesota has a double-barreled blast of bad news, with two stories showing how Pawlenty’s budget solution sets up a gigantic shortfall next time around and reporting a warning on revenue shortfall from State Economist Tom Stinson. In the first story, PIM warns:

The likely impact of the fiscal hole left in Minnesota’s finances when Gov. Tim Pawlenty exits stage right a year and a half from now is so big it seems practically unfathomable from here.

The $7.3 billion deficit forecast for the next biennium is “a 40 percent bigger share of the prior budget period’s revenue base than this year’s deficit.” Moreover, the one-time federal stimulus dollars that helped bridge the gap this year (about $2 billion) won’t be available, and the $1.7 billion “savings” from shifting school aid payments into the next fiscal year won’t be available next time around.

Then there’s the decrease in tax revenues, forecast by Stinson:

“[Income tax] withholding is down $108 million compared to forecast, the sales tax gross is down $10 million, and that’s only offset by about $20 million in corporate estimated payments,” he observes. “So we would say that to this point, it looks like there’s going to be less money in 2010-11 than the forecast. But the economic outlook could change between now and when we do the [next] forecast.” (The current forecast points to revenues of $14.72 billion in FY10 and $15.98 billion in FY11.)

Pawlenty’s no new taxes nonsense didn’t cause the recession or the entire budget deficit, but it made Minnesota’s state budget problems much worse. If the DFL tax plan had passed, says PIM, “the projected ’12-’13 deficit under these scenarios would be only 63-64 percent as large as the $7.3 billion the state currently faces as a result of no-new-taxes brinksmanship.”

Dog days news: Baby ducks, attack hawks, naked bikingThe dog days of summer — late July and August — usually produce a crop of fluffier stories traditional newsmakers go on vacation. Today’s dog day headline nominations include:
Eagan man saves 15 baby ducks from sewer “A hockey stick, bucket, fishing net were used in rescue”
DNR kills hawks that had plagued residents “For weeks, the reports came in about the broad-winged hawks dive-bombing dozens of people, hitting four of them and inflicting two scalp wounds that bled.”
Cyclist arrested while training for naked bike race the 42-year-old lawyer “was arrested about 6 a.m. near Calhoun Parkway after a 911 call about a man on a bicycle exposing himself to walkers and joggers.”

War Reports

Mexico’s drug wars When should a drug war be classified as an actual war? Mexico has just sent 5,500 troops to Michocan state to fight the drug war there — and that’s more than the 4,000 U.S. soldiers sent to southern Afghanistan a few weeks ago for the biggest ground offensive of that war. Police captured Arnoldo Rueda, reputed head of the La Familia drug cartel, last weekend. Since then, BBC reports:

In the worst recent incident in Michoacan and neighbouring states 12 officers were tortured and killed before their bodies were dumped in a heap by the side of a remote road.

Six police officers and two soldiers were killed in other attacks.

According to BBC, more than 11,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006.

Afghanistan Eleven civilians, including five children, were killed in southern Kandahar province, reports BBC. Police blamed the car blast on the Taliban.

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