Good morning, and let me be the first to wish you a happy Friday. Here’s the Digest.
1. A mental health hotline that’s served Minnesotans for nearly 50 years will keep operating thanks to an eleventh-hour infusion of money. Crisis Connection had been scheduled to shut down Friday evening, but a grant from the state health department means the service will continue linking people suffering mental health emergencies to professional counselors. The state of Minnesota grant of $139,000 comes from federal funds for suicide prevention. It’s enough to keep Crisis Connection going through September, and perhaps longer. (MPR News)
2. U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is embracing the fight against climate change in Congress even as he faces criticism from environmentalists back home for his support for local mining interests. In a congressional hearing on Friday, the Northeast Minnesota DFLer will tout his bill to complete a land swap that would benefit the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. Nolan also recently joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers called the Climate Solutions Caucus, and he maintains that there’s no contradiction between reducing carbon emissions and championing a mining project that has drawn opposition from a range of environmental groups. (Star Tribune)
3. Michael Vekich, an accountant whom Minnesota governors seem to have on speed dial when they need to fill a post, was named Thursday to lead the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority that runs the $1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Vekich to replace interim Chair Kathleen Blatz at the helm of a board that attracted intense scrutiny earlier in the year for member perks. His term will run through January 2019. The coming year is a big one for the stadium, best known as the home of football’s Vikings, because the Super Bowl will be held there in February and college basketball’s Final Four is not far behind in 2019. (MPR News)
4. Ten Minnesotans were charged as part of the national health care fraud takedown, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced in a news conference Thursday morning. The “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history,” according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, involved more than 400 licensed health professionals nationwide and totaled $1.3 billion in false billing. Two separate rings of Minnesotans were charged for a combined $8.6 million swindled, according to Swanson. (Pioneer Press)
5. The city of Minneapolis has released a series of text messages in response to a Star Tribune records request that show the argument in April between Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau over whether to appoint police Lt. John Delmonico as Fourth Precinct inspector. The feud became public, with Harteau saying she followed the normal appointment process and Hodges saying she should have had more notice of the controversial appointment. Delmonico is the former police union president. Hodges ultimately blocked Delmonico’s appointment. In June, veteran police Lt. Aaron Biard was appointed to fill the Fourth Precinct inspector job. (Star Tribune)
And just for some perspective to end the week, take a look at these photos that came back the other day from Jupiter. (NASA)