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April 27, 2007

Minnesota Property Taxes Rise for Wealthiest

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Democratic-controlled Minnesota House Friday passed a tax bill that would increase income taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Minnesotans to reduce property taxes for 90 percent of the state's homeowners

The bill passed 74-59. It would increase the tax rate from 7.85 percent to 9 percent for couples earning more than $400,000 a year.

The bill also increases property tax relief for renters and farmers.

Law Student Crashes into Mayor Coleman's Car and Arrested for DWI

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

A student at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, was arrested for allegedly drinking and driving Thursday night.

Abbie Raymond, 22, was driving west bound on Summit Avenue and rear-ended St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's city owned car at a red light at the Victoria Street intersection. She blew a 0.26 percent blood-alcohol content, police said. The legal limit in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.

"She still doesn't know who she hit yet. We've been telling her and telling her," Sgt. Tom Radke said two hours after the incident.

There were no injuries and only minor damage to the vehicles.

Illegal use of Disability Parking Spots on the Rise

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Use grandma's car to pick up her groceries, drop her off at church and so you can get a perfect parking spot at the "U" without being late for class.

More drivers are stealing disability tags to get that V.I.P. spot.

"The sad thing is people who legitimately use disability parking permits and who need to park closer to buildings aren't able to because of these people," University Police deputy chief Steve Johnson said. "They usually do it more than once."

If morals don't stop drivers than a $500 dollar fine should.

Even though you may get away with a free day of parking most likely the car is then being monitored. Officer David St. Cyr, the main enforcer of the law on campus only writes about 100 tickets a year for this but does a lot of background checking to catch perpetrators

Fight Disrupts Services for Slain Teenager

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Visitation for Earl Freeman, the 16-year-old killed aboard a Metro Transit bus Sunday were disrupted after a fight broke out behind the funeral home. Friends of the shooter Jerome Pablo Cross were outside Spielman Mortuary on University Avenue in St. Paul. Police broke the fight up.

Friday morning the family canceled church services at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in fear of more violence.

Fighting has occurred between the shooter and the victim's groups of friends for a long time.

Police will not say if the violence is gang related.

Statewide Smoking Ban is on Fire

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

The Minnesota House on Thursday passed a statewide smoking ban.

It includes a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, private clubs, bingo halls, taxis and other workplaces. Yet will allow an unstaffed smoking room in bars that have received approval from local governments. It would go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

The Minnesota Senate already formed a smoking ban yet that one had an earlier start date. A joint House-Senate committee will reconcile the proposals and pass identical bans for the governor to sign. Governor Tim Pawlenty said he would sign the smoking ban as long as it's reasonable.

The bill passed in the House 85-45.

Minnesota would be the nineteenth state to prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants.

April 26, 2007

The "U" Loses the Egg's Cage

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

The University of Minnesota has switched to serving liquid eggs from cage-free hens in the residence halls. The switch occurred to better serve customers' requests for UDS to be more humane.

Traditional chicken farms keep hens in "battery" cages which are rows after rows of beakless hens. They have about as much space to move as if the hen was standing on a letter-sized piece of paper. The "cage-free" method gives the hen about three times that amount of space so they can spread their wings and walk around a bit.

The director of dining services Larry Weger said UDS uses 2,500 pounds of liquid eggs each week. While
assistant director of dining services Karen DeVet said 2,800 pounds. Either way cage-free eggs are more expensive but students won't be paying more. The university will be absorbing the extra costs, not the meal plans.

The issue started to gain momentum on campus in 2005 by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. They petitioned to encourage the use of cage-free eggs as a more environmentally friendly and healthier option.

Compassionate Action for Animals, a animal-rights activist group, is pleased about the switch. They feel that because the U of M is the largest university to make the switch it'll put pressure on other school to follow.

April 25, 2007

Teen Shot on Bus Route 74

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Shortly after midnight Sunday a 16-year-old St. Paul boy was shot in the chest and killed aboard bus route 74 by 5th Street East and Sibley Street. The shooting was the outcome of a fight that had broken out between the individuals earlier in the night.

Earl Freeman's relatives were awaiting his arrival to a family barbecue in St. Paul Eastside.

Jerome P. Cross, 17, of St. Paul, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of Earl Freeman.

In a statement by Metro Transit they said security measures will be increased since nothing is more important to them than their customers' safety
.
"We're hiring more police officers, increasing our on-board police presence on vehicles, improving our on-board camera system and continuing to work with our law enforcement partners."

April 6, 2007

Major Road Construction 2007

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Thursday that 16 of the 36 metro road construction projects will cause major traffic delays in the summer. In total the projects will cost about $1.5 million, $1 million dedicated to the metro area.

MnDOT mentioned multiple busy metro areas for construction. The Crosstown will be reconstructed by the common areas of Interstate 35W and Highway 62. The signal lights will be removed on Highway 36 by White Bear Avenue to Century Avenue. The I-694/I-35E project will be another area of slow going as MnDOT tries to “Unweave the Weave.�

March 30, 2007

Light Rail Expansion Oversteps Budget

By: Rachele Cermak

On Wednesday the Minnesota Senate voted to build the Light Rail from downtown Minneapolis to St. Paul's Union Depot. Ending the line at this depot would push the project to $1 billion. The federal government will only match half the bill if the total is $820 billion. About $200 billion needs to be cut otherwise Governor Tim Pawlenty could veto the bill.

The Light Rail expansion project was approved on June 28, 2006. The new line would have 16 new stations and be served by 31 light rail vehicles operating every 7.5 minutes during peak times with a travel time of 35 minutes between the two downtowns.

The Hiawatha Light Rail Line ridership reached 9.4 million in 2006. An increase of 20 percent over 2005.


March 20, 2007

Protest on Campus

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By: Rachele Cermak
March 20, 2007

Brandon Madsen speaks to a crowd outside the Dinkydome in Minneapolis during an anti-war protest.
The group gathered in front of Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus. The group marched through campus chanting messages against the occupation of Iraq. The group marched to show support for the troops and end the war.

March 19, 2007

Anti-War Protest in Minneapolis

By Rachele Cermak

On Sunday about 4,000 people came together in Uptown on Hennepin Avenue to protest the war in Iraq. They marched North to Loring Park chanting slogans and holding signs spreading the message of peace.

The march marks the 4th anniversary of the United States war against Iraq. The protest message was “Bring the Troops Home Now!�

The protest called for an immediate end to U.S. military intervention in Iraq and demanded the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Cities across the country like New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco also held anti-war protests this past weekend. Washington, D.C., attracted tens of thousands of protestors trying to send the message that the war needs to end and the troops need to be brought home.

The rallies are all part of the Global Day of Protest.

Among the groups that helped to build the Minneapolis March 18th event were Women Against Military Madness, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Anti-War Committee, and Youth Against War and Racism and Military.
For more information, call 612-522-1861 or
612-827-5364.

February 17, 2007

Amber Alert

Monday night an Amber Alert was issued for Deidre Jeanne Michuda. The girl’s mother reported Deidre was abducted by her father Stephen Michuda, a known sex offender. He is court ordered not to have unsupervised contact with the 14-year-old.

Stephen took the girl after school in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. No one knows whether or not there was a struggle.

Through help of the Amber Alert system and dissemination of photographs they both were found Tuesday at a Mall of America bus stop. Stephen was arrested.

Police charged Michuda with repeatedly sexually assaulting two children, whom were relatives. Michuda is in the Dakota County Jail in Hastings, awaiting his next court appearance at 1:30 p.m. on March 12.

February 10, 2007

Blue Collar Middle Class Fight to Keep Jobs

By Rachele Cermak

United Auto Workers Local 879 from the Ford plant in Highland, St. Paul, joined state legislators, Sen. Dick Cohen and Rep. Carlos Mariani, AFL-CIO representatives and other officials Thursday to announce a bill to prevent the sale and dismantling of the 125-acre facility until a new manufacturer can be found for the site. The bill would require Ford to maintain its truck and hydroelectric plants "in saleable operating condition" for at least five years after Ford discontinues operations in mid-2008.

"This site should not be turned into high-rise condos. It should be a working plant creating high-paying jobs," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

The legislation could complicate efforts by Ford and the city to redevelop the site, which is some of the most valuable real estate in the upper Midwest. Ford said last year it would idle the plant, which means the pending loss of 1,800 high-paying union jobs.

This plant has been in operation for over 80 years making Ford Ranger trucks. Total job loss will reach around 1,800. Doors are scheduled to close in 2008.

Car Owners Fined for Unattended Running Vehicles

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

A Minneapolis city ordinance makes it illegal for a car owner to leave a vehicle running unattended. The fine for violating the ordinance is $34. Hopefully, it will teach people to watch their property better and decrease the amount of car theft.

If a car is stolen and the accused have the keys then police can't prosecute. The best path is to buy a remote car starting which doesn't allow the car to be driven unless the keys are in the ignition. Even if the doors are locked with it running, the theft can break the window still gaining possession of the keys.

If the car is stolen it can be expensive. For one, you will likely be ticketed for open ignition and if the car is stolen in Minneapolis. It could be involved in an accident. Possibly it could be stripped of its parts and never returned. All these things add up to higher insurance rates.

February 3, 2007

Attempts to Make Disregarding a Seatbelt a Primary Offense

By Rachele Cermak

A proposed bill is passing through legislature to make not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense not a citation, according to the Friday February 3rd edition of the Minnesota Daily. Currently, police cannot pull a driver over for not wearing their belt but can issue a $25 ticket if noticed it's off while stopping the driver for a moving offense. This would allow police to pull over a vehicle if the seatbelt wasn't in use.

Of the 500 car crashes from 2001-2005 of drivers ages 18-24, in 362 of them the driver was not wearing their safety belt. The bill will hopefully encourage that age group to start using their belts and hopefully save peoples' lives.

The Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Chuck Samuelson demands legislature to mandate racial information be gathered about who is receiving these tickets to prevent racial profiling. He believes police will use this law to unfairly stop minorities and search their vehicles which wouldn't happen to a white male from the suburbs. Samuelson wants to insure this bill is used in a helpful manner not in a way to encourage profiling.

Current Seat belt laws also state the citation can be given to either front seat passenger or to the driver for a child under 11-years-old as long as the driver is the parent.

Van Drags Girl

By: Rachele Cermak

According to the Pioneer Press front page article, a 33-year-old man driving with a suspended license hit an 11-year-old West Saint Paul girl and dragged her body about 500 yards on Tuesday January 30, 2007, around 6 p.m.

Gladys Reyes was crossing the Wentworth and Robert Street intersection with her friend as Mauricio Sanchez turned left and hit her. Another driver, David Carrera of South St. Paul witnessed the incident, called the police and followed Sanchez. Sanchez pulled into a parking lot and tried to flee the scene but police and canine units quickly caught him.

The Pioneer Press article quotes Antonia Carrera, “This is a really poor family from what I can see. Maybe the community should try to get together and help this family out.� The Star Tribune article covering the story interviewed the girl’s neighbors Jill and Joe Garibay, “Gladys is a permanent fixture around here.� They said she was always welcome in their home and never missed the opportunity to unload groceries, help their children clean their bedroom or baby-sit when needed.

Gladys is in critical condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The man is being held in the Dakota County jail and could face charges of criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under a suspended license. Blood tests haven’t come back yet to see if drugs or alcohol were involved.