MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Minimum-wage rally held at state capitol
ST. PAUL - Supporters of a minimum wage hike for low-income workers in Minnesota are rallying this morning at the State Capitol.
The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul and other leaders are urging the legislature to raise the minimum wage to at least $9.50 an hour. The Minnesota House and Senate both passed legislation to raise the state's minimum wage last year but couldn't agree on how high to raise it. The Minnesota Budget Project estimates more than 350-thousand people would benefit from a minimum wage hike of $9.50.
Protesters were outside the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Education Summit this morning in Saint Paul as the controversial ex-chancellor of the Washington D.C. schools, Michelle Rhee, gives the opening address. Critics say Rhee is anti-union, ignored community input and misrepresented test score improvements. Amy Walstien with the Minnesota Chamber responds they invited Rhee to talk about strengthening the "K-12 pipeline" because employers tell them students are not as well-prepared with math as they have been in the past, and new hires are struggling a little bit with their writing Walstien says Minnesota businesses also report that new hires are somewhat deficient in teamwork and presenting in front of a group -- the so-called "soft skills."
A Pennsylvania refrigeration, heating and air conditioning company is reportedly at the heart of the Target debit and credit card security breach. Investigative reporter Brian Krebs, who runs the KrebsonSecurity.com website, reports network credentials were stolen from Fazio Mechanical Services and used for gaining access to Target's system. Company president Ross Fazio has confirmed the U.S. Secret Service has been to his company's offices, while Target officials will not comment on the report. Krebs reports the HVAC company has worked at several Target stores and those of other retailers.
Jurors deliberated for their first full day without reaching a verdict in the case of a Mayo clinic Health Systems pediatrician accused of sexually assaulting male patients during medical exams in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The jury got the case of Dr. David Vanderloo on Tuesday and deliberated for two hours before going home for the day. They discussed the case for ten hours yesterday (Wed), and will be back at it this morning. Van de Loo is facing 16 criminal charges, including several child sex assault counts. He claims there were legitimate medical reasons for the exams. The trial was moved from Eau Claire to Superior because of pre-trial publicity.
Felony charges are pending against a southeast Minnesota man accused of assaulting a woman Tuesday night in Dakota. The Winona County Sheriff's Office says the 65-year suspect punched the 55-year-old woman in the face several times, tried to strangle her and held the victim against her will at knifepoint. She managed to escape and find a ride to the La Crescent Police Department to report the incident. The suspect was arrested but denied assaulting the woman. The victim was treated for facial injuries at a La Crosse hospital.
Most of Minnesota remains under a windchill advisory through noon. Windchill readings in the 20s and 30s below zero were widespread across the state this morning. Several locations had air temperatures of minus-20 or colder including Big Fork and Crane Lake in northern Minnesota and Fosston in the northwest. Highs above zero are expected statewide on Friday and Saturday.
There has been a security breach ay Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester. A statement issued by Olmsted Medical Center says officials discovered the unauthorized access of the personal data of OMC employees on Monday, but there's no evidence that protected health data on the employees, their spouses or partners, or dependents was accessed OMC also says there is nothing to indicate that any protected patient information was compromised. Olmsted Medical Center employees have been advised to take some preventive steps to protect themselves from identity theft or other fraud.
A former Minnesota resident is among three arrested in connection with the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. KMSP Fox-9 reports 22-year-old Max Rosenblum is in custody along with his girlfriend and musician Robert Vineberg, who is also allegedly a known drug dealer in New York City. Rosenblum attended Hopkins High School through his junior year, and a former friend told Fox 9 Rosenblum was doing drugs at a young age and talked about them in elementary school. Hoffman was found dead in New York City over the weekend of a suspected heroin overdose.
Officials at the MNsure health insurance exchange say they'll bring on as many as a hundred temporary phone operators next month to handle an expected uptick in calls as the March 31st open enrollment deadline approaches. MNsure Interim CEO Scott Leitz says increasing call center staff will get wait times closer to industry standards -- less than one minute for 85 percent of the callers. Some are worried about the 750-thousand dollar cost, but Leitz says overflow money is built into the budget plus there will be savings in other areas.
Police in Chisholm on Minnesota's Iron Range are investigating after a man's body was found in a snowbank Wednesday morning, but no foul play is suspected. Authorities say the man apparently had fallen. An autopsy is being performed. The man's name has not been released.
A number of Olympic athletes at the Sochi Winter Games will be wearing uniforms made by a Minnesota company. Reid Lutter is a former U.S. skier who owns Podiumwear in Saint Paul. He says he used to ski with coaches from the Australian team and they contacted his company, plus they're official supplier of the Canadian jumping and nordic combined team. Lutter says Podiumwear also made suits, jackets and pants for Argentina's ski team and Great Britain's biathalon team. Polo/Ralph Lauren makes the official uniforms for Team USA. They were made in the U.S. for the 2014 Olympics, after the uproar four years ago when the uniforms were manufactured in China.
Vice President Joe Biden will be in Minneapolis later this month for a high-buck fundraiser at the downtown Minneapolis restaurant owned by Governor Mark Dayton's sons. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee will be February 19th at the Bachelor Farmer restaurant in the Warehouse District.
A Minnesota man will spend 28 years in prison for killing his girlfriend in Wisconsin in a dispute over how they split money from illegal drug sales. 23-year-old Richi Vue of Saint Paul shot 20-year-old Lee Xiong to death at her Weston apartment near Wausau in October 2012. Officials say Vue escaped in a stolen truck and was tracked down in the woods about 40 miles away. He escaped a life prison sentence by striking a plea deal that convicted him of reckless homicide. Vue was high on meth at the time of the chase, and his attorney argued the defendant got caught up in his environment and an abusive relationship. But a prosecutor said Vue was a career criminal already and the victim was his girlfriend, not the shooter.
A woman pulled from a Columbia Heights house fire has died but three other people were able to escape without injury. Assistant Fire Chief John Larkin says the 53-year-old woman became trapped in the home where the fire broke out at around 8:45 pm Tuesday night. She was taken to HCMC and later pronounced dead. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Former state House Minority Leader Marty Seifert narrowly leads the field of Republican hopefuls for governor after Tuesday's precinct caucus straw poll. Seifert won with 28 percent of the vote, state Senator Dave Thompson came in second at 26 percent and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson took third place with 17 percent. In the GOP straw poll for U.S. Senate, state Senator Julianne Ortman won with 31 percent of the vote. Mike McFadden was second at 22 percent. Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey says the straw poll votes are non-binding, but important nevertheless as an important first sign of strength.
2013 was the deadliest year ever for heroin overdoses in Hennepin County. Last year 54 people died compared to only eight in 2010. State drug expert Carol Falkowski says more needs to be done to combat the epidemic -- and for starters doctors must be educated on identifying heroin addiction and what to do about it Falkowski says the state should require all doctors to participate in a prescription monitoring program designed to reduce "doctor shopping."
A Minnesota-native is grand prize winner of NBC's season 15 finale of "Biggest Loser." Twenty-four-year-old Rachel Frederickson went home with the grand prize of $250,000. Frederickson also set a record for the highest percentage of weight loss for any player in the show's history. She weighed 260 pounds at the start of competition and finished at 105. Fredrickson went to Stillwater High School and was a state swimming champion three years in a row.