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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Man with service dog suing a Minneapolis McDonald's

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minneapolis McDonald's restaurant is being sued by a man who claims the restaurant twice refused to serve him because he had a service dog.  Robert Mingo was eventually served both times, but a manager ordered him not to eat in the dining room in the second instance according to the lawsuit.  Mingo accuses that manager of saying quote, "I am the law" when the wheelchair-bound man told him the red-vested dog was allowed under the Americans With Disabilities Act.


The former second in command at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who was also in charge of the church's child sex abuse prevention efforts, admitted that priests who sexually abused children were allowed to remain in the priesthood but often moved to jobs that included less contact with children.  In a six hour deposition that took place earlier this month, Reverend Kevin McDonough explained that between 1988 until 2002 men who committed crimes against young people were employed in administrative capacities in the archdiocese, and sometimes were allowed to practice as priests in convents and other such positions, but they were barred from practicing in 2002.  McDonough said he regrets "especially in the earliest years, that I was working -- that we were still working -- with an outdated and now clearly dangerous assumption about rehabilitation for such men.  I regret that deeply."  McDonough also admitted that priests removed from active ministry because of child sex abuse were typically given transitional assistance - or support checks from the archdiocese that may have been higher than their traditional pay.  The former Vicar General acknowledged that handwritten notes he'd taken about alleged abusive priests and their apparent victims were often destroyed after he compiled memos.  


The state Senate has approved a bill that would require investigators to get a special warrant if they want to track a potential criminal by using the GPS location in the suspect's cell phone or other electronic devices.  Senator Branden Peterson and other supporters say the bill responds to rapidly advancing technology, but Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen cast the lone vote against the legislation.  He's  a retired sheriff from Alexandria and says it could hamper criminal investigations statewide.  The bill says law enforcement must show probable cause of a crime. People being tracked must eventually be notified that their information was collected.


Walter Mondale is sticking by his decision to pay a female employee at the Norwegian Consulate in Minnesota 30-thousand dollars less than a male counterpart.  The former Vice President testified yesterday in federal court in St. Paul in a civil trial that the jobs were not comparable.  Mondale testified the pay difference was not based on gender, but added he wrote to the Norwegian ambassador to try to get her pay increased while he worked as the honorary consul general.  Ellen Ewald is suing Norway on the basis of gender discrimination.


Willmar police and fire officials are investigating a fire that burned several vehicles behind Ridgewater College early this morning.  Just after 1 a.m. a passerby noticed a fire behind the college and called Kandiyohi County Dispatch.  Authorities discovered several cars and a bus were on fire in the lot next to the auto body/auto tech area.  Fire crews extinguished the fires and were on the scene for a little less than an hour.  


The Arrowhead in northeastern Minnesota is digging out from a major spring snowstorm.  A winter storm warning is in effect through noon today (Fri12pm).  National Weather Service Meteorologist Kevin Huyck (hike) says there will be some impressive snow totals by the time the storm ends, with as much as 13 inches possible in the tip.  Elsewhere, central and southern Minnesota drivers will encounter dense fog at times this morning, with visibilities at a half-mile or less.  And in southeast Minnesota, up to an inch-and-a-half of rain mixed with melting snow will cause rivers to rise this weekend.  Another inch or two is expected Saturday night through the middle of next week, but forecasters say it's too soon to tell if flooding will be a problem.


Day four of testimony yesterday (Thu) in the trial of Byron Smith, who is charged with first degree murder in the deaths of two teenagers in Little Falls.  Jurors saw autopsy results on the bodies of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady, including graphic pictures of their wounds.  The Ramsey County Medical Examiner testified that Kifer was shot six times and Brady three, and gave his opinion concerning which of the shots were fatal.  The prosecution rested it's case, and the defense called it's first witness to the stand - a Morrison County Sheriff's deputy who investigated an earlier break-in at Smith's home.  


The first vote of the 2014 legislative session on a medical marijuana bill this morning (8am hearing start) in a state Senate committee.  Governor Dayton has indicated he's not comfortable with Minneapolis Democrat Scott Dibble's bill.  But Dibble says he believes the governor wants to keep the conversation going, pointing to Dayton's comment a few weeks ago that it's time for the legislature to debate the medical marijuana issue and have a vote.  A different group is pushing for complete legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  Some worry that could hurt efforts to legalize marijuana for medical use.


The ice is off many lakes around the state and the Department of Natural Resources is reminding Minnesotans of the dangers of still-cold water.  The DNR's Kara Owens says over 30 percent of boating fatalities in the state happen in cold water below 70 degrees, with the victim not wearing a life jacket.  Owens says they know Minnesotans are anxious to get out as the lakes start opening up, but people need to be aware of the dangers.  Owens says always be sure to wear your life jacket.


The Minnesota House has passed legislation that would restrict so-called "payday loans" in Minnesota, which officials say trap poor people in a cycle of debt.  The bill prohibits lenders from making a fresh loan to anyone who's already taken out four payday loans in the previous year.  But Preston Republican Greg Davids convinced his colleagues to make an exception for those who need the loan to pay their mortgage or rent, and another amendment also included child support payments.  The bill would also limit the annual interest rate to 36 percent on payday loans for those purposes.


The D-N-R is facing a lawsuit that seeks to throw out its new angling regulations for Mille Lacs Lake that take effect on the fishing opener in a couple of weeks.  Attorney Erick Kaardal (CAR'-dahl), who represents a group of resort owners and anglers, says the D-N-R ignored its constitutional mandate to preserve Minnesota's fishing heritage.  Kaardal says Minnesotans have understood for decades that Mille Lacs Lake is the capital of walleye fishing in the world -- the crown jewel.  D-N-R officials say they have not yet reviewed the lawsuit and aren't commenting.  The plaintiffs are particularly upset about the night-fishing ban being extended to the entire season.  It's currently only the first three weeks.


The flu season is almost over in Minnesota.  The state Department of Health says there were 15 influenza-related hospitalizations in the week ending April 19th, compared to 28 the previous week.  One nursing home reported a flu outbreak and no schools had outbreaks.  The geographic spread of influenza is still "sporadic."  Minnesota's flu season usually runs through May.