Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. Let the Digest help you get over that midweek hump.
1. Walz announces five cabinet picks. The first members of Gov.-elect Tim Walz’s cabinet are lined up weeks before he becomes Minnesota’s next governor. Walz is retaining one member of Gov. Mark Dayton’s team and also opting for agency leaders who are grounded in government. (MPR News)
2. Plugging gaps in sexual assault response. A blue-ribbon panel of law enforcement professionals, victim advocates and state and local officials has issued a catalog of recommendations designed to improve how Minnesota police handle sex assaults. The attorney general’s working group on sexual assaults was established after reporting by the Star Tribune newspaper revealed a widespread lack of response from the criminal justice system to reports and victims of sexual assault. “The first responsibility of government is to keep the public safe, and there have been some gaps and problems in keeping the public safe when it comes to sex assaults,” Attorney General Lori Swanson said Tuesday as the group issued its 47-page report. (MPR News)
3. Lone finalist gets nod to lead U of M. The University of Minnesota’s governing board voted unanimously Tuesday morning to hire the first female president in the U’s 167-year history. Joan Gabel, the provost at the University of South Carolina, will make $640,000 in base salary under a contract regents also backed unanimously. She will also receive a $150,000 retirement contribution in 2020 and could fetch a performance bonus, to be negotiated at a later date. The Board of Regents chose Gabel as the lone finalist from a pool of 67 applicants earlier this month, after two other front-runners balked at being publicly named unless they were the only finalist. She has a track record of shattering the academia’s glass ceiling: She was the first female provost on her current campus and the first female dean of the University of Missouri’s business school. (Star Tribune)
4. Aid headed to soybean farmers in unsettled market. The federal government will make a promised second round of payments to farmers affected by tariffs, easing some uncertainty but not solving the larger problem of trade disruption that has been a drag on profits since the summer. “While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year.” U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on Dec. 1 to a short-term stop in escalating tariff disputes that have disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods, including soybeans to China. (Star Tribune)
5. Looking back on Dayton’s career. He won four statewide races, but lost two, and his life was punctuated by personal struggles that threatened to derail his political career. And for someone who sought out a life in politics, Dayton never had the natural qualities of a politician. A born-introvert, he wasn’t a back slapper or a smooth talker, and he wasn’t known for rousing speeches. His signature move: a mumbled blunt assessment, washed down with a self-deprecating joke. “Mark Dayton is the antithesis of slick,” Dayton’s friend and former AFSCME chair Elliott Seide said. “Coming from the background and the family he did, he could have been that way.” But Dayton proved tenacious, leveraging his family name and spending millions of his personal fortune in his quest to serve in public office. (MPR News)