MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE-RESIGNATIONS Minn. lawmakers formally submit resignations ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Two state representatives have formally submitted their resignations, allowing Gov. Mark Dayton to set special elections to fill their seats. Both Rep. Steve Gottwalt of St. Cloud and Rep. Terry Morrow of St. Peter resigned via letters Monday, the day before the Legislature is to begin a new session. Both were reelected to two-year terms in November, but decided to step aside for job opportunities. Morrow, a Democrat, will lead legislative efforts nationwide for the Chicago-based Uniform Law Commission, which aims to help states draft laws that are consistent from state to state and with federal statutes. Gottwalt, a Republican, took a job as state legislative director for the Center for Diagnostic Imaging. Neither special election will affect Democratic control of the House.
POLICE VIDEO-MINNESOTA St. Paul police request further review of kicking (Information in the following story is from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org) ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – St. Paul police have asked Minneapolis prosecutors to review allegations of police brutality against two officers after a videotaped arrest shows one of them kicking a man. The YouTube video shows St. Paul police Officer Jesse Zilge kicking 30-year-old Eric Hightower once in the chest while trying to arrest Hightower last August. Another officer, Matthews Gorans, sprayed Mace into Hightower’s face and right ear to help get him into a squad car. Last year, Olmsted County prosecutor Jim Martinson reviewed the case for possible felony charges. He declined to file charges, saying there was “insufficient proof” the officers used unreasonable force. A St. Paul police spokesman tells Minnesota Public Radio that the Minneapolis city attorney will review the incident for possible misdemeanor charges. Meanwhile, a police internal affairs investigation continues.
THEATER-PENUMBRA FUNDRAISING St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre to resume productions (Information in the following story is from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org) ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Penumbra Theatre Company of St. Paul says it will resume production this spring. Last September the Penumbra announced it was suspending programming and laying off some staff as it dealt with a revenue shortage. On Monday, the theater announced that it had exceeded its fundraising goal. The Penumbra says more than 1,400 individuals, corporations and foundations donated $359,000 by Dec. 30, 2012. The goal was $340,000. But Minnesota Public Radio News reports the company still has some work to do to ensure its long-term future. In March, the Penumbra plans to present “SPUNK,” a George C. Wolfe adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Three Tales.” The Penumbra is one of the nation’s largest African-American professional theaters.
FRANKEN-HAGEL Minn. Sen. Franken calls Hagel ‘war hero’ EAGAN, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is praising President Barack Obama’s pick of former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary. Franken calls decorated combat veteran Hagel “a war hero.” And Franken is promising to listen to his testimony. Some Democrats have criticized Hagel for saying in 1998 that a nominee for an ambassador post was “openly, aggressively gay.” Franken, a Democrat, says Hagel has apologized for those comments, and he doesn’t think that’s a reason to deny him the post. Franken also says he’s interested in hearing Hagel’s comments on Iran’s nuclear program. In a statement, Minnesota’s other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, says Hagel, who fought in Vietnam, “has a long record of service to his country,” and she looks forward to considering his confirmation.
POLICE CUSTODY-DEATH Minn. man stop breathing in police custody, dies (Information in the following story is from: KEYC-TV, http://www.keyc.tv) MANKATO, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the death of a 26-year-old man who stopped breathing while in Mankato police custody. According to the Mankato Department of Public Safety, the incident began on New Year’s Day just after 4:30 a.m. in a grocery store parking lot. Authorities say Andrew Derek Layton of North Mankato was found passed out in the store’s entryway. Police say they woke Layton up, and he became combative. An ambulance took Layton to the Blue Earth County Jail. Once at the jail, authorities found Layton was not breathing and had no pulse. Lifesaving measures were taken and Layton was taken to a hospital.
KEYC-TV reports Layton died last Saturday. The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy. Results are pending. SCHOOL FIRE-WACONIA Minn. school evacuated after fire set in bathroom WACONIA, Minn. (AP) – Authorities say a smoky fire set in a men’s bathroom forced the evacuation of a Twin Cities area high school. The Carver County sheriff’s office says someone set fire to three rolls of toilet paper in the restroom at Waconia (wah-KOHN’-ee-uh) High School. Crews were called after someone reported smoke coming from the restroom around 10:15 a.m. Monday. The school was evacuated. The Waconia Fire Department put the fire out with a fire extinguisher and ventilated the area. No one was hurt, but the bathroom was damaged. The fire is under investigation.
MINNESOTA FLOODING-BRIDGE REBUILT Washed-out bridge rebuilt in northeastern Minn. DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – Traffic is moving again on Jean (zhahn) Duluth Road more than six months after last June’s floods in northeastern Minnesota. Crews rebuilt the washed-out bridge that spans the Lester River north of Duluth. The road reopened to traffic Monday. An average of 4,100 motorists traveled the bridge daily before the storm. The St. Louis County Public Works Department sped up the bridge’s rebuilding to get the road reopen. Public Works Director Jim Foldesi says normally a project of that size would take three to four years to complete. Redstone Construction of Mora (MOHR’-uh) was the prime contractor. The project includes 12-foot-wide lanes, plus 8-foot shoulders. The project cost about $1 million. Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief funds covered 80 percent of the costs. State flood bonding paid for 20 percent.
WILD-PARISE AND SUTER Parise and Suter hit the ice for Wild ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are finally going to work for the Minnesota Wild. The two big free-agent signings pulled on Wild sweaters for the first time on Monday during an informal practice with 16 of their new teammates. Parise and Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million deals in July only to have to sit on the sideline during the NHL lockout. The owners and players came to an agreement on a new deal on Sunday, allowing the two stars to hit the ice at Xcel Energy Center a day later. Suter says it’s been a rollercoaster since he first decided to leave Nashville and sign with Minnesota. Both stars say the league and the players need to apologize to fans for putting them through another labor dispute.
TIMBERWOLVES-LOVE Kahn: Love will be out for ‘a number of weeks’ MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love met with doctors in the Twin Cities on Monday to evaluate his right hand, which is broken for the second time this season. Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn says Love also will consult with a hand specialist in New York this week before determining a course of action. There is no timetable for his return, but Kahn says Love will be out for “a number of weeks.” Love missed the first three weeks of the season after breaking his hand during the preseason. He broke it again last week in Denver. Kahn also says point guard Ricky Rubio is expected to play Tuesday against Atlanta after missing four games with back spasms.
PACKERS-VIKINGS-MAYORS’ BET Mpls. mayor pays off bet with Green Bay mayor MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has paid off his friendly wager with Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt over Saturday’s playoff game between the Vikings and the Packers. Green Bay beat Minnesota, so Rybak sent Schmitt sausages from Minneapolis restaurant Butcher and the Boar. Schmitt had wagered Green Bay cheese, root beer and candy if the Packers lost. In a news release, Rybak says, “We lost fair and square, so we’re sending the sausages.”