December 3, 2008

Body Discovered in Alley

Minneapolis police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was discovered in a Minneapolis alley Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.

The body was discovered in an alley between University Ave NE and 26th Ave around 7:30 a.m.

The woman, described between the ages of 35 and 50, was not dressed for the winter weather, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It is believed her body had been left there following her death.

November 11, 2008

Minneapolis-Duluth Rail Line Under Consideration

A possible high-speed train line between Duluth and Minneapolis is considering whether to add another 30-mile section in order to boost train speeds.

The section, which would be added north of Sandstone, is one of 10 different options being considered in the development, the Star Tribune reported.

Such an addition would add another $60 million to $90 million to the project, which is already projected to cost $400 million. Approximately 80 percent of the project will be covered by the federal government, with the remaining costs covered by state funding, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

November 8, 2008

Coleman, Franken Senate Race Faces Recount

The Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken faces a recount, Minnesota officials announced, as more issues have started to surface in the closest Senate race in history.

One issue is the emergence of 100 votes for Franken in the Iron Range, which were filed between election night and the following Thursday, when the votes were recounted, the Star Tribune reported. A time stamp for several Coleman votes is Nov. 2, which was two days before the election.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has started working with both candidates on a timeline for resolving the recount quickly, though it may take up to six weeks, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

October 21, 2008

St. Paul Bank Robbed by Masked Man

A masked man robbed a U.S. Bank shortly before it opened Monday morning, the Star Tribune reported.

The robber pushed a teller who was unlocking the bank door and took an undisclosed amount of money from the cash drawers.

Witnesses described the robber as a black man, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and medium build. He was wearing a black ski mask during the robbery, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

October 18, 2008

Bachmann Questions Obama's Patriotism

Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann said she believes Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may hold "anti-American views," Minnesota Public Radio reported.

"I'm very concerned that he (Obama) may have anti-American views," the Republican Congresswoman from the 6th District told MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

Bachmann referenced Obama's connection to 1960's radical Bill Ayers in defending her statement, following a trend from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin, the Star Tribune reported.

"Barack Obama didn't have a mild association with Bill Ayers," she said. "He had a very strong association with Bill Ayers."

October 10, 2008

Car Pulled From River Contained Body, Police Say

A dredging project near Harriet Island in St. Paul led to the discovery of a submerged car with a body inside, police announced Friday.

The car, which was heavily damaged, was removed from the river around 9 a.m. Workers on the site said they saw a decomposed body inside and called police, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Investigators will begin checking missing persons records and try to find the owner of the vehicle, a police spokesman told the Star Tribune.

It is not known whether the incident will be investigated as a homicide.

September 23, 2008

Two Charged in Motorcycle Death

An Andover woman whose body was found Friday may not have died in a motorcycle accident, investigators said.

Natasha Waalen, 28, had injuries that were not consistent with an accident, including several blows to the head but no bruises or scratches on her feet or lower legs, even though she was found barefoot, the complaint said in an article by The Pioneer Press.

Waalen's boyfriend and father of her 4-year-old daughter has been arrested in connection with the death. Ryan Boland, 33, faced charges of second-degree intentional murder and was on a $1 million bail, the Anoka County attorney's office said. A complaint filed by the office suggested that Boland's brother Timothy Boland, 31, may have assisted and is expected to be charged Tuesday.

However, some of Waalen's family members have hinted that the brothers may not be affiliated with the crime.

Jeff Waalen, Natasha's father, said police were "barking up the wrong tree" in charging the Bolands. He suspected the culprit was a man whom Natasha had threatened to sue.

"It would be easier for me to believe something else than thinking it was the guy she had known for 10 years," he told The Star Tribune.

September 16, 2008

Arrests During RNC Being Investigated

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has said there will be an investigation into the actions of police during the Republican National Convention, in which 818 arrests were made.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has also announced plans for a post-RNC investigation, with former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Luger leading the independent investigation, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Coleman has recently been criticized for not supporting free speech. "He stood by while police were used to suppress political dissent," St. Paul resident John Schatz told The Pioneer Press. Schatz was one of 30 people who recently protested in front of a home where Coleman was holding a fundraising event. The group was protesting raids of self-described anarchists and the appointment of Heffelfinger and Luger to the independent investigation team.

Both investigation teams will be looking into several factors of the convention, including security protocol and police training. The investigation will also look at the numerous arrests made, including several on-duty journalists.

Most of the arrests ended in misdemeanors, according to Minnesota Public Radio. It may take several months for the courts to determine which people were accidentally arrested.

In the meantime, several legal organizations are offering assistance to those arrested, explaining what legal options are available. Some representatives of the organizations are optimistic.

"People are aware that they have the right to protest and to express themselves," said Bob Kolstad, a criminal defense lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, which will represent some of the people arrested at the RNC. "I'm sure that they will assert those rights in court and hopefully at least in some of the cases the prosecutors will agree with that position and just dismiss some of the cases."

September 12, 2008

I-35W Bridge May Open Soon

The newly-constructed I-35W bridge could open as soon as next Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported.

The new bridge is expected to be stronger and more environmentally-friendly. Mixed within the concrete is a fly ash, produced when coal is burned. The fly ash has been mixed with the concrete of the bridge, in an effort to prevent water from seeping through the concrete.

"It's not common concrete at all," said Kevin MacDonald, vice president of Cemstone. The Mendota Heights company was the main subcontractor for the project, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We shouldn't be using any concrete, anywhere, without fly ash."

The $234 million bridge features 10 lanes and can accommodate light-rail transportation, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The new bridge was built over the site of the previous bridge, which collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13 and injuring 145. The National Transportation Safety Board has nearly concluded an investigation into the collapse and will detail the findings in November, the Star Tribune said.