Daily Digest: Will DFL back Ellison?

Good morning. Seems like it took a while for Friday to get here this week. Here’s the Digest.

1. Party chair: Ellison situation ‘very fluid.’ Two days after Keith Ellison won the DFL primary for Minnesota attorney general, it remained unclear whether his party will endorse him as the nominee and whether his place on the ballot is secure. Minnesota DFL Chair Ken Martin added to the uncertainty of Ellison’s status when he described Ellison’s situation as “very fluid.” Last weekend, Ellison was accused of forcibly removing his then-girlfriend from a bed in his home while shouting at her. The woman, Karen Monahan, says it happened the day after they had a verbal confrontation, and that she captured the incident on video. Ellison insists there is no such video because he never acted in that way. Martin said the DFL takes the allegations “very seriously” and is looking into them. He said there are questions Ellison needs to answer. “My hope is that if Keith Ellison continues to be our nominee, that this is put behind him and that these are addressed head on, so we can focus our attention on keeping this office,” Martin said. Minnesota DFL delegates are scheduled to meet Saturday in Cambridge to decide whether to endorse Ellison and Tim Walz, who both won their contests in Tuesday’s primary without prior party backing. Two union groups backed Ellison Thursday, but NOW, the National Organization for Women, called on him to withdraw from the race. (MPR News)

2. State economy hums along. Employers around Minnesota added an estimated 11,200 jobs last month, and the state’s unemployment rate fell slightly to an 18-year low of 3 percent. That’s the lowest level since June 2000 — and nearly a full percentage point below the national jobless rate. Job gains in Minnesota last month were greatest in education, health services, government, trade, transportation, utilities and manufacturing. There were slight declines in service, logging and mining jobs. Employment rose not just in the Twin Cities metro area but also in Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato. (MPR News)

3. Audit faults IT department. Minnesota IT Services has failed to provide adequate oversight of computer projects that could boost efficiency at individual agencies and across the state enterprise, according to an audit released Thursday. The report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor examined the IT agency’s handling of the state Information and Telecommunications Account from July 2014 to Feb. 2018. The Legislature created the account in 2006 to fund future computer projects. A total of 209 IT projects worth more than $79 million were approved for the account between 2007 and 2017, the report found. As of March 2018, state agencies had either not started or completed 95 of those projects, leaving a balance of $23 million in the Information and Telecommunications Account. “Minnesota IT Services’ internal controls over the Information and Telecommunications Account were generally not adequate,” the report stated. “For the projects and legislative report we tested, Minnesota IT Services (often referred to as MNIT) generally did not comply with significant legal requirements, including Minnesota statutes and its own policies and procedures.”(Pioneer Press)

4. St. Paul backs legal fund for immigrants. The St. Paul City Council has voted to support one of Melvin Carter’s most recent initiatives — a legal defense fund for immigrants. According to the council resolution approved Wednesday, “the federal government is using increasingly aggressive and hostile tactics to arrest, detain and deport immigrants who live and work within the city of St. Paul, creating an environment of fear that is detrimental to the social and economic health of the city.” The mayor unveiled the concept during his Aug. 9 budget address. Carter said that in light of federal efforts to detain and deport growing numbers of immigrants, the city should set aside $100,000 to support community-based organizations that work with immigrants. (Pioneer Press)

5. Trump picks Dohman for U.S. marshal. President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Minnesota’s public safety commissioner to be the next U.S. marshal for the district, a position that has been open nearly two years. The Star Tribune first reported in May that the FBI completed a background check of Mona Dohman and that she was the only candidate to have reached what is considered the last step before a formal nomination by the White House. St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson was also once considered for the job. Dohman has led the Department of Public Safety since 2011, when she was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton. She previously spent 27 years with the Maple Grove Police Department, including as chief from 2001 to 2011. Dohman would be just the second woman to lead the agency’s Minnesota office, which has been led on an acting basis by Daniel Elbers, a former chief deputy marshal, since the retirement of Sharon Lubinski in December 2016. (Star Tribune)

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