December 8, 2008

Ethics code may be instated after New Brighton Prostitution sting

New Brighton City Council Member David Phillips, 59, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor solicitation charges late last month, may be inspiring a new ethics policy for city officials, according to the Star Tribune.

New Brighton Mayor Steve Larson has placed the installation of an ethic policy as a top priority for 2009.

Public outcry aided in the decision, after Phillips, who was elected to city council last year, was arrested in a prostitution sting last winter and plead guilty. Phillips was given one year of probation and fined $858 dollars for his actions.

In spite of the public's disapproval, Phillips has given no indication that he will resign.

"As city residents, you want your leaders to be people of character and moral value," said Pat Montague, a 15-year New Brighton resident who was having lunch Monday at the Bru House, a coffee shop on Silver Lake Road. "I think these decisions have shown him to be neither of those."

City policy states that although Phillips actions were illegal there is no grounds for his removal and Larson not push for a Phillips resignation as a result.

November 11, 2008

Bosnian man ordered extradited for murder

Zdravko Veletic, 56, a retired Lino Lakes construction worker, has been detained by U.S. authorities and will be extradited to Bosnia regarding a 16-year-old murder, according to the Star Tribune.

Veltic was captured at his home on Partridge Place on Oct. 31st., shocking the neighbors who knew him best.

"He's been nothing but kind," said the neighbor, who has lived next to Veletic for five years, according to the Pioneer Press.

Veltic, who appeared before U.S. magistrates, is wanted for a murder he committed 16 years ago. Veltic was involved in an altercation in June 1992 with a local, Veltic pulled a pistol and fatally shot the man after he had cursed his mother.

According to the Star Tribune, Veltic soon fled after the incident and was later convicted absentia in 1997.

In 2001, after settling in Minnesota, Veltic and his wife purchased their home in Lino Lakes. Veltic, who recently retired from construction due to a back injury, also had suffered the loss of his wife just last year to cancer.

Bosnia issued a warrant for Veltic's arrest in 2004. When the government discovered his residence in Minneosta, Bosnia officials requested Veltic's extradition.

November 9, 2008

St. Paul man convicted of sexual misconduct

Paul Hegerman, 54, couldn't do more than close his eyes and listen as jurors sealed his fate at 3:30pm Friday, the man often referred to as "Papa Gene", was found guilty of sexual misconduct involving a six-year-old girl.

According to the Star Tribune, jurors were faced with a he-said/she-said dilemma between the accused Hegerman and the victim, jurors sided with the girl finding Hegerman guilty of first-degree sexual assault.

Hegerman is being held in custody until his Dec. 19th sentencing, which calls for a minimum twelve-year sentence.

Hegerman, and his wife Linda, operated a day care center, which the victim attended with her brother since October 2005. The St-Paul day care center was located at the 1400 block of Iglehart Avenue, is where Hegerman allegedly molested the young victim in th home bathroom.

The victim testified to the assualts, citing that she was being actively abused since the age of four or five.

Hegerman, who defended himself, according to the Pioneer Press, was reportedly amazed by the accusations. Hegerman's wife, who also testified, claimed Hegerman was incapable of the accused assaults.

The day care center has been closed since December 2007, after the accusations first surfaced.

November 3, 2008

St. Cloud student arrested for sexual assault

A St. Cloud State University student has been charged with a sexual assault of a 18-year-old woman outside Benton Hall early Sunday morning, according to the Star Tribune.

The assault, which occurred at 2:28am, on the 100 block of 4th street S., culminated with the detainment of the student by University security officers.

The St. Cloud Times identified the student as Franck Melaine Miessan, 23, who is a St. Cloud State student along with the victim.

However, no indication as to the relationship between the victim and her attacker has been determined.

Police are currently holding Miessan at the Stearns County Jail, awaiting court.

University spokesperson Marge Proell said a safety alert was not issued because Miessan was detained.

Proell added that the university had four sexual assaults between July 1st, 2007, to June 30th, 2008, but that she did not know of any more recent sexual assaults on campus.

October 26, 2008

White Bear Lake mayor levied with 13 tax leins

White Bear Lake Mayor Paul Auger admitted to media on Thursday to significant tax delinquencies, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ramsey County records show that at one time Auger owed more than $230,000 in taxes to the IRS. Auger stated that although he isn't sure what the current total is, he assured that the amount was far less than the $230,000 figure.

State and Federal tax agencies have levied 13 liens against Auger's assets in an effort to rectify Auger's balance of debt, including Auger automotive.

"Apparently, I do a good job as mayor, because I've been re-elected, and I'm a fine mechanic, but I'm a lousy accountant," Auger said Thursday.

The White Bear Press reported that the issue, though likely resolved by the end of the year, was the result of Auger failing to pay the $35,000 capital gains tax from the sale of his grandparent's home.

Auger, who has been White Bear Lake's mayor since 1996, said that although he made some poor decisions, it will not affect his ability to lead as mayor.

Although, “It’s definitely added a few gray hairs,? he said.

October 19, 2008

Michelle Bachmann faces backlash over "Obama" comments

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann is facing a public backash over her comments on Barack Obama, according to Kare11.

Bachmann appeared on the MSNBC program "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. Bachmann, who is running for reelection in Minnesota's 6th district, was asked if she felt that Obama held "ant-american views." Bachmann said: "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views."

Her statements appear to be a sharp contrast from statements made a day earlier at a debate in St. Cloud.

"If the presidency would somehow go to Barack Obama, I would welcome him to the 6th District as well," Bachmann said after the debate. "As a matter of fact, I would put my hand on his shoulder and give him a kiss if he wanted to" -- a reference to when Bachmann gained notoriety for grabbing President Bush's shoulder after his 2007 State of the Union address and holding on until he kissed her."

Aside from criticisms on Bachmann's comments as distasteful, Democratic challenger El Tinklenberg has received almost half million dollars online since Bachmann's comments first aired, according to the Pioneer Press.

Bachmann based her comments on Obama's relationships with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.

Tinklenber spokesman, John Wodele, stated that Bachmann's statements went too far.

"There was a spark already. But she poured fuel on that spark, and it just exploded," Wodele said. "It struck people as inappropriate."

October 13, 2008

Man foubd dead in St. Francis

A 45-year-old man was found dead under a bridge near the Rum River on Thursday, according to the Pioneer Press.

The body was located at 2:30pm under a Rum River bridge off of Bridge street in St. Francis.

According to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office, the man was lying under a bridge near a bicycle, but it is unclear whether the bicycle belonged to the man, according to the Pioneer Press.

Initial reports by the Pioneer Press stated that the cause of death was unclear.

However, the Star Tribune has since reported that the man's death was likely accidental, as Anoka county officials have stated that alcohol was likely involved.

No other vehicles or individuals are believed to be involved in the death.

October 1, 2008

Marathon runners barred from using MP3 devices

An effort that reflects the USA Track and Field marathon regulations, this Sunday's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon will bar contestants from using electronic devices, according to the Pioneer Press.

USA Track and Field is the governing body of competitive marathon running, which adopted the electronic rule in 2006.

Other marathons permit the use of electronics, but to be sanctioned by USA Track and Field, runners must desist from using banned devices, according to the Pioneer Press.

The USA Track and Field defines the banned devices in the language of the rules, which states infractions as "the visible possession or use by athletes of video or audio cassette recorders or players,TVs, CD or DVD players, radio transmitters or receivers, mobile phones, computers, or any similar devices in the competition area."

The ban is included in the USA Track and Field rulebook, according to the Pioneer Press, cited under the rulebook's section on unfair advantages, as studies have shown that audio devices can assist in cardiovascular activity.

Although, marathon officials maintain that the issue isn't advantage, it's safety. "It's really more of a safety issue," said USA Track & Field spokeswoman Jill Geer. "It's not assistance with a capital A," according to the Pioneer Press.

Last year's marathon saw over 100 runners disqualified after breaking the rule, according to KARE 11. Although the rule is nothing new to seasoned Twin Cities runners. The Twin Cities Marathon has banned electronic devices since 2000.

This Sunday's marathon is expected to draw 11,000 runners to the Twin Cities, according to Kare 11.

September 22, 2008

28-year-old Anoka woman dead after apparent motorcycle crash, boyfriend arrested under suspicions of murder

In a story that began as an unfortunate motorcycle fatality, has turned into a murder investigation satiated with unanswered questions.

According to the Star Tribune, Natasha Waalen, 28, was found lying dead near a motorcycle in an Andover street, early Friday morning.

Police initially felt that the accident was just that, and that Waalen, mother of a 4-year-old daughter, simply lost control of the motorcycle and crashed on the Andover street, seven miles from her residence.

However, the Star Tribune reports that authorities, investigating the scene Saturday, determined that the evidence no longer pointed to a simple accident.

"Multiple factors," according to a news release issued Saturday, "are not consistent with a motor vehicle accident.'' Including the injuries Waalen suffered, which have yet to be disclosed by the authorities.

Suspicions of foul-play resulted in the arrest of Waalen's live-in boyfriend, Ryan Boland, 33, late Friday night, according to the Pioneer Press.

Waalen and Boland lived together with their daughter at 816 Adams St. in Anoka, a neighborhood, where residents struggle to make sense of the news.

"The neighborhood is buzzing. This sort of thing just doesn't happen. It's just very hard to take in," next-door neighbor Valorie Burke said. No evidence, as of yet, has surfaced of prior incidents of violence or disturbances between Waalen and Boland.

The cause of death is still unknown and police have yet to reveal possible motives for the murder, according to the Pioneer Press. Authorities continue to compile evidence and consider possible charges.

Clearly, numerous questions remain unanswered, but according to the Anoka County Sheriff's department, no further information will be released until a criminal complaint is filed.

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September 10, 2008

I-35 bridge set to re-open next week

The new interstate I-35 bridge is set to re-open next week according to the Star-Tribune, just over 13 months since the tragic collapse late last summer.

Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled for a news conference at 11:00am Monday morning. Pawlenty is expected to give an exact date for the bridge’s re-opening. The event will not be open to the public according to Kevin Gutknecht, “It would be great to be able to do it,? but according to the MnDOT spokesman the design elements for the new I-35 bridge do not warrant excess pedestrian traffic.

Construction crews, lead by Flatiron Construction, are finalizing efforts on the $234 million project, none of which are expected to cause delays. Area motorists will have access to the west-bound bridge sometime next week, possibly as early as Tuesday. Next week’s opening puts the bridge reconstruction ahead of the contractually-committed completion date of Dec. 24. It is still unclear whether Flatiron constructions will receive the $27 million in bonuses for finishing on Monday said Gutknecht.

The old interstate I-35 bridge collapsed Aug. 1st, 2007. Crews working round-the-clock since Nov. 1st have completed its replacement. According to MnDOT the replacement, “will be high-quality, safe and last for at least 100 years.? Tom Sorel, MnDOT Commissioner, expressed excitement over the re-opening to Minnesota motorists according to The Associated Press.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as reported by the Star-Tribune, said it is close to identiifying the factors that caused the collapse, leaving 13 dead and 145 injured. The NTSB is set to discuss their findings in Washington at a public hearing set for Nov. 13