Ness, environmentalists push for wind subsidy extension | Minnesota Public Radio News

Wind turbine parts, such as these in this file photo, regularly come through the Duluth port. (AP Photo/Duluth News Tribune, Amanda Odeski)

DULUTH, Minn. — Mayor Don Ness joined environmentalists in Duluth Wednesday to call on Congress to extend a federal wind energy subsidy.

Officials with Environment Minnesota argue that allowing the production tax credit to expire at year end could cause new wind power construction to drop by 75 percent. The group issued a report saying wind energy produced in Minnesota prevents power plant emissions equivalent to the pollution from 757,000 cars a year.

Ness said a lot of wind turbines come through the city’s port on Lake Superior.

“We have become world leaders in handling this massive equipment that’s coming though our port, so there’s a great deal of benefit to our local economy,” Ness said.

The tax credit provides a subsidy of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale wind projects. Environment Minnesota’s Michelle Hesterberg said without it there will be more pollution.

“Our message to Congress today is clear: Don’t let wind fall off the fiscal cliff,” Hesterberg said.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service estimates it would cost $12 billion to extend the credit for another decade. Minnesota currently generates about 11 percent of its electricity from wind — fourth after Texas, Iowa and California.

via Ness, environmentalists push for wind subsidy extension | Minnesota Public Radio News.

Simonson wins race for Kerry Gauthier’s seat in state legislature | Rick Kupchella’s –

DFL endorsed Erik Simonson was the overwhelming winner in the race for Minnesota State House District 7B seat to replace disgraced Rep. Kerry Gauthier, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Simonson, an assistant Duluth fire chief, received 62 percent of the vote. Republican Travis Silvers received about 22 percent and write-in candidate Jay Fosle took the remaining 16 percent.

The Associated Press reports voters in one Duluth precinct received incorrect ballots that listed Kerry Gauthier as the Democratic candidate for state lawmaker. The correct ballots were later delivered to the precinct.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in September Gauthier would not appear on the ballot. He dropped out of the race in August after admitting to a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth rest stop.

via Simonson wins race for Kerry Gauthier’s seat in state legislature | Rick Kupchella’s –

Disecting MN House 7B Race | Northland’s NewsCenter: News, Weather, Sports | NBC, CBS, MyNetworkTV, and The CW for Duluth MN / Superior WI | Local News

Duluth, MN ( – One race that won’t be final until late Tuesday or early Wednesday is the State House District 7B race.

That’s because it’s a three way race with only two of the candidates listed on the ballot.

News Fast. News First. Subscribe for text alerts, e-news & more.

Late Tuesday night, results showed DFL endorsed Erik Simonson with a commanding lead in the race.

What happened here made this a wild ride for all the candidates. It began when incumbent Representative Kerry Gauthier stepped down amidst a sex scandal. But removing his name from the ballot was not a slam dunk.

It took a State Supreme Court decision to do it and then another battle over whether the DFL could add newly endorsed candidate Eric Simonson to the ballot.

But it didn’t end there.

Jay Fosle chose not to seek any party endorsement, but still felt he had a right to a spot on the ballot.

The State Supreme Court allowed Simonson, but not Fosle. Fosle chose to continue an aggressive write in campaign, winning an endorsement from the Duluth News Tribune.

Through it all, Republican endorsed candidate Travis Silvers remained on the ballot.

By the time the Supreme Court had made its decision on the Gauthier/Simonson situation, ballots had already been printed.

New ballots had to be created with St. Louis County taxpayers footing the bill of an estimated $20,000.

via Disecting MN House 7B Race | Northland’s NewsCenter: News, Weather, Sports | NBC, CBS, MyNetworkTV, and The CW for Duluth MN / Superior WI | Local News.

Review board | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth Mayor Don Ness introduces the newly appointed members of the Citizen Review Board during a news conference on Friday at City Hall.
From left: Duluth police Chief Gordon Ramsay, Doug Bowen-Bailey, Pastor Gabriel Green, David Baker, Patty Behning Oakes, Renee Vannett, Katy Eagle and Blair Powless. (Bob King /
Read the article: Duluth mayor introduces police review boavia Review board | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth introduced its new Citizen Review Board on Friday at City Hall, with community leaders saying the panel will help foster improved relations between police officers and the neighborhoods where they walk their beats.

Review board members, approved by the City Council last week, were introduced during a brief event at the mayor’s office.

“This is a great tool, a great addition to the city of Duluth,” Mayor Don Ness said, adding that the board will help foster dialogue between the department and the community at large.

More than 40 people applied to be on the review board, “and I’m happy with the balance we got,” Ness said.

The board will meet as needed to hear complaints but also will meet monthly to continue to foster relations between the public and the department, said Doug Bowen-Bailey, a member of the review board as well as a member of the task force that has met for five years to develop the board.

“We want to be proactive, not just reactive. We want to build trust,” Bowen-Bailey said.

The review board members include:

* Bowen-Bailey, a sign-language interpreter, educator and resource developer who has served on the Duluth Task Force for Improved Community Police Accountability the past five years, as well as serving on numerous committees and boards throughout the community

* Blair Powless, director of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Church in Duluth. His background is in education and communication.

* Renee Kathy Van Nett, coordinator at the American Indian Community Housing Organization’s Cabinoo’Igan Shelter in Duluth. She served on the Duluth Indian Commission from 2009 to 2010.

* David Baker, unit manager at the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth. Baker has 20 years of experience with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

* Katherine Eagle, attorney at PAVSA. She is the first sexual-assault victim advocate to be housed within the Duluth Police Department. She serves on the board of directors for Lifehouse and is board treasurer for Mending the Sacred Hoop.

* Patricia Oakes, retired from the Duluth Police Department after 27 years of experience that included serving on the Lake Superior Gang and Drug Task Force. She has also served on boards for the Salvation Army, Community Action Duluth and Men as Peacemakers.

* Gabriel Green, lead pastor at the Church of Restoration in Duluth. He serves on the board of directors of Youth in Duluth and is active in the Lincoln Park Improvement Project.

The review board will include the participation of Police Chief Gordon Ramsay and the board’s secretary will be Bob Grytdahl, the city’s human rights officer and a former Duluth police officer.

“This has been a long, long process,” Ramsay said. “I think it will help us build relationships and trust within the community.”

Grytdahl, who has been calling for a review board for more than 15 years, agreed. Grytdahl said the review board will spend a lot of time learning about state laws, police training, police policy, human-rights laws and other factors that in large part determine police response to issues.

“This is really critical for when we have events and thing blow up in emotion and anger,” he said. “This is going to help people understand how the police do their job; why they do the things they do.”


Reader’s view: Fosle isn’t ready to lead in Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

I was surprised the News Tribune endorsed independent Jay Fosle for District 7B state representative after he skipped the newspaper’s and Duluth chamber’s candidate forum. Fosle instead received a private screening. The News Tribune seems to be doing a lot of hand-holding with Fosle while going out of its way to propagate a bias against Erik Simonson.

For example, the News Tribune’s endorsement editorial said Simonson “barely” met the 60 percent threshold for DFL endorsement. What it didn’t say was that Simonson won the DFL endorsement on the first ballot, which was huge. The newspaper also hasn’t told you Simonson is the only candidate running who supports both a woman’s right to choose and the concept of the super-wealthy paying their fair share.

Fosle, on the other hand, is a Republican-minded candidate in a DFL stronghold. He said he didn’t seek and doesn’t want the DFL endorsement. Travis Silvers has the Republican endorsement. Where does that leave Fosle? In limbo. His “gotcha” antics on the Duluth City Council may be amusing here, but in the state Legislature he’ll be viewed as an unproductive sideshow. He’s not ready to lead.

Erik Simonson is ready, and he will make an outstanding legislator.

Darrel Youngblom


via Reader’s view: Fosle isn’t ready to lead in Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Minnesota school bus driver charged with slapping 6-year-old | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

BLUE EARTH, Minn. — A Blue Earth school bus driver has been charged with slapping a 6-year-old passenger who she says was unruly.

Seventy-two-year-old Jane Brooks is charged with fifth-degree assault.

Brooks says the 6-year-old was hitting a smaller child on the head with his book bag during an afternoon route Sept. 14.

She says the boy refused to move to another seat so she had to physically move him. The child then began kicking passengers across the aisle. Brooks says she radioed for help and school staff told her to move other children away from the boy.

The Fairmont Sentinel reports as Brooks was doing so, the boy spit on the children in the seat behind him.

A criminal complaint says Brooks told the boy to stop spitting and when he did so again, she slapped him across the face.

via Minnesota school bus driver charged with slapping 6-year-old | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Our view: Kasper still owes Duluth an explanation | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Details of a city of Duluth investigation into allegations against Tom Kasper won’t be made public. That became reality when Kasper resigned from his position as building and grounds supervisor before disciplinary action could be completed. No details can be divulged until the discipline is done, state law states. The resignation guaranteed discipline would never be done.

So what happened? What was this all about?

“You would have to ask Mr. Kasper about that,” Alison Lutterman, a deputy city attorney who typically handles data requests for the city, told the News Tribune on Monday after the resignation.

But Kasper, an elected Duluth School Board member, has been disappointingly mum on the subject.

As an elected leader, in addition to now being a former city employee, Kasper owes his constituents and the community more. As someone in whom public trust has been placed and who can expect to be held to a higher standard of conduct, he owes an explanation. He can come clean to his fellow School Board members, to the entire school district and to every resident of the school district.

And if he’s not willing to do that, should he continue in elected office?

Kasper is just the latest in a troubling list of Duluth-area elected leaders and public office-seekers embroiled in controversy in recent weeks, as we first pointed out in an editorial last month. As with Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler (“Carlton County attorney pleads guilty to DWI,” Sept. 12), state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-

Duluth (“Police investigate Gauthier in rest stop incident,” Aug. 15), and Minnesota House candidate Erik Simonson (“Daughter of Minnesota House candidate says he abandoned her,” Sept. 5), the public, including Kasper’s supporters and constituents, has a right know what this was all about.

And elected leaders have an obligation to be forthright and to take responsibility when necessary.

via Our view: Kasper still owes Duluth an explanation | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Northland state trooper cited for driving squad car while drunk, placed on leave | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper was arrested for driving while impaired when he reported for an in-service training session at the Patrol’s district office in Duluth on Wednesday.

Trooper Nick Morse of Two Harbors has been placed on investigative leave pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Morse drove his squad car from his home in Two Harbors and arrived at the training at 8:10 a.m. At the district office, a supervisor noticed the odor of alcohol coming from Morse. Field sobriety tests were administered and Morse was arrested by a State Patrol lieutenant.

Morse was transported to the St. Louis County Jail where he submitted to a breath test. The test result registered an alcohol concentration of .08, which is the legal limit in Minnesota. Morse was then booked into the St. Louis County Jail and issued a citation for 4th Degree DUI.

Morse has been a state trooper since April 2009. He has not previously been disciplined nor has he received commendations as a trooper.

“State troopers are dedicated to taking impaired drivers off the road, which makes this incident even more egregious and unacceptable,” Col. Kevin Daly, chief of the State Patrol, said in a prepared statement. “We don’t tolerate impaired driving, regardless of who is behind the wheel.”

via Northland state trooper cited for driving squad car while drunk, placed on leave | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Talks to end Chicago teacher strike make progress | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

CHICAGO — Negotiations between union and school officials in the nation’s third-largest school district resumed Thursday with an air of optimism and signals that a teachers’ strike could end soon.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said students could be back in class by Monday, a week after teachers walked out. Lewis initially suggested classes could resume as early as Friday, then said approval of a final proposal would require a union delegates’ meeting, which could take more time.

“We still have some major stuff we have to look at,” she told reporters Thursday on her way into the talks. “Doing something fast is not the way to go. Haste makes waste.”

About 25,000 teachers have been on the picket line since Monday while negotiators have been locked into tense talks. Issues on the table have included teacher evaluations that incorporate students’ standardized test scores, and job security.

The walkout canceled class for about 350,000 students and left parents scrambling to make other arrangements for young children. The district has kept some schools open on a limited basis, mostly to provide meals and supervision. More than 80 percent of Chicago Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Contract talks ended shortly before midnight Wednesday, and Lewis said the sides had definitely come closer together. School Board President David Vitale also was more positive after Wednesday’s talks and said he was hopeful of a deal.

The optimism was evident on the picket lines, too.

“I know that we will have a good resolution to this, and I do believe it will be soon,” said Michelle Gunderson, an elementary school teacher picketing on the city’s North Side. “And they do not mean to have us be embroiled in this for longer than we have to.”

The walkout is the first Chicago teachers’ strike in 25 years.

via Talks to end Chicago teacher strike make progress | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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