Minnesota News Briefs: Report shows little monitoring of record searchesMinnesota News
- A newly released report from Minnesota's Legislative Auditor shows law enforcement officers looked up more than 1.4 million driver's license records last year, yet officials do very little monitoring of the records searches to ensure the database isn't being misused.
ST. PAUL -- A newly released report from Minnesota's Legislative Auditor shows law enforcement officers looked up more than 1.4 million driver's license records last year, yet officials do very little monitoring of the records searches to ensure the database isn't being misused.
The study found nearly 90 officers misused their ability to access driver's license information for non-work purposes or work purposes not allowed by state law. The report made several recommendations including implementing stricter controls and better training for law enforcement regarding appropriate data use.
A pilot was killed in a small plane crashed last (Wed) night in central Minnesota. The single-engine propeller plane crashed on County Hwy. 40 near Parkers Prairie at about 6:30 p.m., and Otter Tail County Sheriff’s officers say the Minnesota pilot killed was the only person on board. His name has not yet been released. The FAA will gather information from the scene and the National Transportation Safety Board will work to determine the cause of the crash.
A Minneapolis woman faces kidnapping and burglary charges after taking a young boy from his home yesterday. Police say that Isabel Diaz-Castillo took eight-month-old Carlos Orozco from his family's apartment in south Minneapolis while the boy's mother was showering. Officers, acting on a tip, tracked Diaz-Castillo just miles away where they found the child unharmed and took the suspect into custody. The boy's mother said she met Castillo at a laundromat about a month ago, but always felt uneasy around her. It's believed the woman may have recently lost a child during birth.
A young Minnesota mother was sentenced to four months in jail, after pleading guilty to trying to smother her baby at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul last May. Police were called by hospital staff, after Katie Lewis of Hutchinson was seen pinching her five-month old son's nose and covering his mouth during a hospital visit. Lewis took the baby to the hospital because she claimed he turned blue and stopped breathing. She claims the attempted suffocation was an effort to get doctors to find the cause of his illness more quickly and treat it. Psychiatrists say she suffers from a disorder called Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy - a condition where people, often mothers, harm others as means of getting attention.
Proposed legislation allowing for red light cameras in Minnesota has stalled. The House Transportation Policy Committee decided not to vote on the measure this week, despite two hours of debate. The red-light cameras were used in Minneapolis for a couple of years before the state Supreme Court struck down the city’s ordinance in 2007. The court said the city couldn't always prove who was at the wheel when it mailed out tickets. Two associations for Minnesota police officers oppose the bill, saying it creates resentment against law enforcement and is a poor substitute for person-to-person interaction that normal traffic stops bring.
House and Senate lawmakers have intorduced the Solar Energy Jobs Act of 2013, a plan to grow the industry and create thousands of jobs in Minnesota. DFL state Representative Will Morgan of Burnsville says there are already more than 100 solar energy businesses in the state, and the bill would require utilities to get 10 percent of their power from the sun by 2030. Morgan says the proposed standard would bring more than $230 million in investments to Minnesota in just the first year. 16 states already have enacted solar energy standards.
A Moorhead man who started a series of dumpster fires will spend a year in the Clay County Jail. Steven Chenoweth pled guilty to third-degree arson, and admitted to setting at least 13 dumpster fires. Chenoweth's lawyer Ken Kludt says he will undergo a diagnostic assessment to see if mental or emotional health challenges may have played a role. Judge Lisa Borgen told Chenoweth that he's lucky he didn't burn down a building or put people in harm's way.
Mining is a hot topic at the State Capitol this week, and on the same day United States Steel and United Steelworkers announced the formation of the Iron Ore Alliance to promote mining in Minnesota, mining was also discussed in the House Agriculture Policy Committee. Committee member DFL Representative Roger Erickson of Baudette says mining companies are required to offset drilling areas by creating wetlands, but he's concerned that they may be allowed to use fertile agriculture property. The state requires mining companies to add one square mile of wetlands for every square mile they use for drilling, and DFL representative David Dill suggests that should be doubled by returning exhausted mine land to wetlands as well.
Minnesota food shelves get about $2.5 million from the state each biennium, but a proposal that was approved Wednesday by the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee would increase that by about 40-percent, or one-million-dollars. Byron Lair is the executive director of Community Emergency Assistance Programs, with food shelves in Brooklyn Center and in Blaine He says they were serving just over 700 families 5 years ago, and that's more than doubled to nearly 16-hundred this year. Minnesota has 300 food shelves statewide, with a total of more than 3 million visits last year.
A bill pending in the state House and Senate would give $10-million dollars to the Minnesota Film and TV Board over the next two years Executive Director Lucinda Winter says the Snowbate program offers incentives to production crews that shoot movies, TV shows and commercials in the state. Winter says a ten-million-dollar appropriation would help the industry in Minnesota compete with other states. The Snowbate program received $500,000 in Legacy funds last year. The state invested $4.5-million between 2007 and 2011 and production dollars spent in Minnesota totaled $28.4 million.
Governor Dayton has ordered flags be flown at half staff Friday at all state and federal builings in Minnesota in honor of Police Officer Josh Lynaugh. The 30-year-old officer fell ill after chasing a teen on foot February 8th and died in the hospital last Saturday. A celebration of Lynaugh's life, with full police honors will be held Friday at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Lynaugh twice won the St. Paul Police Department's "Life Saving Award" and received 16 commendations during his five years of service.
Despite all the snow we've had throughout the state this winter, experts say a severe drought persists. State Climatologist Pete Boulay says the problem is the snow we're getting this winter is all frozen, so in the spring when it melts, a lot of it will melt off into the rivers and streams. Boulay says above average rainfall in the spring would help get some water back into the soil, improving drought conditions in Minnes