Good morning and welcome to Friday, which once again has come just in time. Here’s the Digest.
1. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is calling on the St. Paul Police Federation board to resign after it demanded the serial number of two handguns stolen from the home of mayoral candidate Melvin Carter. The situation escalated Thursday after a mailer went out tying the theft of the guns to the rising number of shootings in the city. In a statement released Thursday night, Coleman said the board and police federation president Dave Titus have “embarrassed the good men and women of the St. Paul Police Department.” Mayoral candidate Pat Harris also released a statement calling for the board’s resignation. Harris said that there are hundreds of officers dedicated to serving their community. “However, there is absolutely no place in Saint Paul for the type of dirty, political tactics and dog whistle racism that have come from the Saint Paul Police Federation’s leadership over the past few days,” he said. Federation President Dave Titus said Coleman should be more concerned with levels of crime in St. Paul than his campaign for governor. (MPR News)
2. Minnesota leaders used President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a national health crisis to repeat their calls for new legislation. Gov. Dayton renewed his support Thursday for a “Penny a Pill” surcharge on prescription opioids that would raise about $42 million every two years to combat opioid abuse and fund treatment programs. The proposal has been opposed by pharmaceutical companies. Last year, more than 3.5 million prescriptions for opioids were written in Minnesota, enough for 62 percent of the state population to have one. Overdoses on prescription opioids killed 186 in the state last year. Minnesota’s so-called opioid stewardship bill has bipartisan support. Its chief sponsor in the House is Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, who lost his son Dan to a drug overdose in 2011. (Pioneer Press)
3. The six Democrats running for governor next year are hoping Minnesota voters do something they’ve never done before: elect a DFL candidate to succeed a retiring DFL governor. Given that history, it’s not surprising that the announced 2018 candidates are spending little time on the campaign trail talking about Gov. Mark Dayton. Republicans are trying to boost their chances by warning that a DFL win in 2018 would be tantamount to another four years of Dayton. Most of the DFL candidates take exception to such comparisons. (MPR News)
4. The politics of a proposed oil pipeline across northern Minnesota have grown so contentious that even the release of a video game has stirred up controversy. “Thunderbird Strike,” a new game developed by current Michigan State University professor and former Duluth-based Native American artist Elizabeth LaPenseé, allows players to symbolically destroy oil pipelines and other infrastructure. It was partly funded by a Minnesota state arts grant. Industry groups argue the game encourages “eco-terrorism,” and a Minnesota legislator said he will introduce legislation designed to limit state funding to similar projects in the future. But the artist and the regional arts group that funded her stand by the project, which they argue does not condone violence and uses imagery to inspire players to think about important issues. (MPR News)
5. When a developer suggested in 2015 that the Mankato-based School Sisters of Notre Dame sign up as a subscriber for the power generated by a planned solar array in the area, the nuns had a more ambitious idea: build the array on our land. Two years later, Innovative Power Systems of Roseville is beginning construction on a 1.3 megawatt solar array with roughly 40,000 solar panels capable of creating enough energy to power 165 average Minnesota homes. The School Sisters will be a major subscriber for the new power, expected to go on line by late winter, as will Blue Earth County, the Hilton Garden Inn and the city of New Richland. “To be able to collaborate with others is a great gift,” said Sr. Mary Kay Gosch, campus administrator of the provincial headquarters on Good Counsel hill. (Mankato Free Press)