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Five join school board race

   Five candidates have filed papers to run against three incumbent District 196 school board members in the November election, according to the secretary of state’s office.
   The eight candidates for the Nov. 7, 2017 School Board election are incumbents Art Coulson of Apple Valley, Gary Huusko of Eagan and Mike Roseen of Apple Valley, and challengers Craig Angrimson of Apple Valley, Brian Buechele of Lakeville, Rebecca Gierok of Apple Valley, and Daniel O'Neil and Bianca Ward Virnig, both of Eagan.
   The terms of Coulson, Huusko and Roseen expire Jan. 1, 2018. The new terms for all three at-large positions run from January 2018 to January 2022.

Development stretching  police resources

One of the great traditions of summer, the Dakota County Fair, returned this week with agricultural competitions, carnival rides, foot-long dogs and cheese curds.
     Hotels and development have strained police resources, according to the city’s police chief, prompting a request the city fund five new police officers.
     The request for new police officers comes at a time when the city is also planning to add 12 firefighters over the next two years to transition the city from a mostly volunteer to a full-time fire department. The perceived need for more personnel is prompting city officials to propose a 7.1 percent increase to the city’s budget next year.
     For the first time, city officials are planning budgets to cover two consecutive years, rather than completing the budget process annually. City officials are proposing an increase of about $2.3 million, 7.1 percent, in 2018, to bring the 2018 general fund budget to $35.9 million.
     The 2019 budget proposal is $37.9 million.  City officials expect to spend $210,000 more than the city takes in in revenues during each of the next two years, according to budget document.
     In a discussion with the city council, Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald acknowledged the size of the request, which would increase the department to 74 officers.
     “Five is a lot,” he said. In addition, the chief acknowledged that about 25 percent of the city’s police department is eligible for retirement within five years.
     “There’s nothing else we can do,” the chief said, “especially when you see we have this new development coming. It’s going to cause some more issues on an organization that is strapped.”
     The number of calls for service from the police department has increased from 46,000 to 51,000 between 2015 and 2016, the most recent year figures were available, he said.
     Demands on the department have worsened since Eagan’s outlet mall opened in 2014, according to the chief.
     “There seems to be an influx of criminals who are preying on our merchants,” McDonald said. “Those types of crimes are very complicated to investigate. It’s not like we can send one officer.”
     Officers might be called to the mall several times a day on reports of problem. When those calls come in, officers will have to leave other duties, such as traffic enforcement and neighborhood patrols.
     When questioned by the city council about the impact of the city’s hotels, McDonald acknowledged crime in local hotels. “We saw human trafficking,” he said. “We saw prostitution. Narcotics is a biggie.”
     Police are also currently responsible for first response to medical emergencies. The department will likely transition to a secondary role in those cases once more firefighters are hired.

City officials propose funding left-wing political group

   Among the budget increases and new expenditures in the proposed Eagan city budget is a donation to a radical left-wing political organization critical of police.
   The city’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes a 4.7% increase, $27,500, in the administration budget. The increase is attributed to “inflationary personnel expenses,” also known as pay raises, and a $4,800 contribution to an organization called GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.
   There is little explanation of the organization in the proposed city budget, other than the proposed contribution. The organization is a corporate rebranding of two organizations: the Center for Social Inclusion and the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas Institute.
   GARE has been recruiting local governments in Minnesota, based on a connection to a former University of Minnesota professor, john powell. Outside Minnesota, membership in the group is generally limited to Seattle and Southern California, according to GARE’s website.
   The organization is the latest evolution of a movement to promote black interests through local governments. One of the precursors to the GARE organization, the HAAS Institute, notes its mission on its website:
   “Since August 2014, when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, MO, and his body left lying in the street for over four hours, the Haas Institute has been part of the national conversation on Black Lives Matter and civil rights in the USA.  In many pieces featured prominently in the media, Director john powell [sic] urges us to go beyond thinking about these just as individual cases involving individual actors.”
   On its website the institute promotes writers such as Rasheed Shabazz, also known as Reginald James. Shabazz, and others, sued a California police department for actions taken during a Black Lives Matter protest. The case was ultimately dismissed.
   Among the articles on the Haas Institute website is a Shabazz article entitled Why We Don’t Know How Often Police Kill. The article discusses a fictional scenario of police framing a black suspect by sprinkling him with crack cocaine.
   “While that fear and scenario [of police sprinkling crack on a black suspect as a setup] may seem almost irrational to some, the reality of police terror is all too familiar to Black folk and other oppressed peoples in the United States,” the column reads.
   Shabazz graduated from the University of California at Berkeley under the name Reginald James. He began his graduation speech with the line “Jesus was black. Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about Afrikan.”