Daily Digest: Schoen and Cornish out

Good morning, and welcome to the day before Thanksgiving. This year I’m grateful for all the readers of this email/blog post. If you like it, please tell your friends. If you don’t, please keep it to yourself. Here’s the Digest.

1, Two Minnesota legislators succumbed to pressure to leave office amid allegations of sexual harassment, a move cheered as the first step toward changing a Capitol climate that some women say was too tolerant of misconduct. The announced resignations Tuesday of DFL state Sen. Dan Schoen and Republican Rep. Tony Cornish marked a hard fall for the two lawmakers, both with law enforcement backgrounds and political ambitions. Cornish had at times weighed a campaign for Congress and Schoen was mentioned as a candidate for state auditor.  Both legislators were subject to multiple complaints, some of which were denied and others explained as jokes or electronic communications that went awry. But women — lobbyists, staff and fellow lawmakers — said it stemmed from a culture where too many looked the other way when it came to bad behavior. Sarah Walker, the lobbyist who accused Cornish of repeated sexual advances, said in a statement that harassment had become pervasive. “No one should be forced to accept sexual harassment in exchange for the opportunity to work on issues in the political arena or anywhere else,” she said, coming forward publicly Tuesday evening as the lobbyist who had anonymously alleged wrongdoing by Cornish. (MPR News)

 

2. In less than a week since sexual harassment allegations were leveled against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, his approval rating has plummeted and many Minnesotans say he should resign, according to a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll. In the poll conducted Monday night after allegations from a second woman were made public, only 22 percent of 600 Minnesotans surveyed said he should remain in office. Another 33 percent said he should resign, while 36 percent said he should wait for results of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent. (KSTP TV)

3. Meanwhile, a national poll showed 50 percent of respondents said Franken should resign outright, a view shared by 49 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Republicans and 44 percent plurality of independents. A 46 percent plurality of respondents said the Senate should expel Franken over the allegations against him. The Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted before accusations from a second woman, who said Franken groped her while they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. In the case of Roy Moore, the GOP’s Senate nominee in Alabama who has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 1979 and pursuing other romantic relationships with teen girls while in his early 30s, 57 percent of the 2,586 registered voters polled Nov. 16-19 said the Senate should expel Moore from the chamber if he defeats Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special election.(Morning Consult)

4. Reports that school cafeteria workers are taking lunches from kids who can’t afford them has legal and food advocates calling for change. Jill Haggerty, a mother in Stewartville in southeastern Minnesota, said her kids in middle and high school reported seeing lunches taken from classmates and the food dumped in metal buckets in front of them earlier this month. School district officials in Stewartville declined to answer questions about the practice, but did issue a statement. “At this point we have not been able to verify that any trays were actually pulled from students,” Superintendent Belinda Selfors said in the statement. “We are reviewing our procedures and ensuring that no child is being turned away from receiving a school lunch.” The Legislature passed a law in 2014 directing schools not to take public action against students from families who couldn’t pay for their lunches. (MPR News)

5. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is requiring an additional environmental study of a crash-protection wall that is planned along the proposed Southwest light-rail line that will be shared by freight and LRT trains. It is unclear whether the study will further delay the embattled $1.9 billion transit project. The 14.5-mile line will connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, with passenger service expected to begin in 2022. But BNSF Railway, which owns 1.4 miles of right of way between the proposed Royalston Avenue/Farmers Market and Bryn Mawr LRT stations, required the addition of the 10-foot concrete wall in negotiations with the Metropolitan Council, which will build and operate the Southwest line. The cost of the wall is about $20 million. (Star Tribune)

The Digest is taking Thursday and Friday off to eat and recover. Have a great Thanksgiving!

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