Good morning, and happy Tuesday. Here’s the Digest.
1. Groups affiliated with both major parties plan big campaign ad blitz. Political groups on both ends of a Minnesota governor’s race anticipated to be competitive are locking in television advertising time in huge chunks, previewing what will be a fall campaign saturated with attack ads. The Republican Governors Association has reserved more than $2 million in ad time for the weeks leading up to Election Day. The ad purchase, first reported by The Associated Press, gives the group a leg up on a commodity that’s going to be in short supply this year: Time for the ads to air. Meanwhile, the Democratic-aligned Alliance for a Better Minnesota has been quietly gobbling up time, too. The group is slated to go up with broadcast television and cable spots just after Labor Day, but its inquiries with stations suggest an August start is possible. A spokeswoman wouldn’t say how much in total time has been secured, but based on records at one Twin Cities station the cost is certainly in the millions. (MPR News)
2. Three area rivers on group’s endangered list. A new report lists two rivers in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin as among the most endangered rivers in the United States. Every year, the environmental advocacy group American Rivers publishes a list of the 10 U.S. rivers it considers most at risk. This year’s report ranks the Kawishiwi River in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area as the third most endangered in the nation. That’s due to Twin Metals’ proposed underground copper-nickel mine near Ely. Two other rivers made the list not because they face imminent threats, but because of proposals to remove locks or dams, allowing the water to flow freely. One is an 8-mile stretch of the Mississippi from St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis to the confluence of the Minnesota River, listed at No. 6. At No. 10 on the list is the Kinnickinnic River in northwestern Wisconsin. The river’s natural flow is disrupted by two dams that provide electricity to the city. The federal licenses for those dams are expiring, and officials in River Falls are seeking to renew them. (MPR News)
3. Appeals court says police officer can be fired. A three-judge Minnesota appeals court panel ruled unanimously Monday in support of Richfield’s decision to fire a police officer. Richfield fired officer Nathan Kinsey in 2016 after he slapped a teenage boy during a 2015 traffic stop and failed to report his use of force. After an arbitrator reinstated Kinsey, Richfield unsuccessfully tried to have the decision vacated and filed an appeal. Richfield’s attorney Marylee Abrams hailed the panel’s reversal of the lower court decision. “I think that this case really did a nice job of balancing the interests of the parties and really came out in favor of the paramount importance of the citizens and our communities,” she said. The city maintained that the arbitrator’s award for Kinsey violated the “public policy” exception to state labor law. Essentially, Richfield argued that since its public policy was to ensure public safety, the arbitrator’s decision violated that policy by reinstating someone who threatened public safety. (MPR News)
4. Will the push for gun control make a difference in November? The size and sustained momentum of the movement in the wake of the Parkland shooting has surprised some political pundits, but many are wondering if the sense of urgency can continue for another eight months, when Minnesota will have an open governor’s race on the ballot, all eight congressional seats, two U.S. Senate seats and more. “I think that’s the million dollar question,” said University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Andrew Karsch. “Historically there has been overwhelming support for a lot of these actions but these supporters tend not to vote on the gun issue.” Rob Doar, the political director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, said supporters of gun control measures spent at least $900,000 in the 2016 election compared to $60,000 from his group and the National Rifle Association. He expects that number will only increase this fall. “Even with that much spent, they only flipped two seats,” Doar said. “We expect that we will continue to have success engaging Minnesota’s law abiding gun owners at the polls in 2018.” (MinnPost)
5. Family members want action on elder abuse. Frustrated by what they see as legislative foot-dragging, family members of abuse victims are intensifying their push for new laws to protect tens of thousands of vulnerable adults who live in senior care facilities across the state. A grass roots coalition of abuse victims and their relatives, Elder Voice Family Advocates, descended on the State Capitol early Monday and distributed 1,850 summaries of maltreatment reports — including descriptions of beatings, sexual assaults and thefts — to state legislators ahead of key hearings this week. The reports represent just 3 percent of the more than 20,000 allegations of maltreatment received by the Minnesota Department of Health each year from individuals and facilities. The family members said they are trying to combat the perception that abuse occurs only in a minority of senior homes, and show through government documents that dangerous incidents are widespread in every legislative district across the state. (Star Tribune)