City looking for four new police officers

School Board candidates appear at election forum

   The city has posted job openings for four police officers to start in March 2018, the same month the Vikings new headquarters is scheduled to open.
   The application deadline for candidates is October 30. Interviews will be held in November, according to a posting on Eagan’s city job site.
   The department recently announced a shift in its hiring practices because of difficulties recruiting police officers. “Recently, Eagan, like many other cities across the U.S. has seen [a] decline in applicants who want to become police officers,” the department said in a statement. In response, Eagan and other suburbs are trying to develop a pool of candidates “who do not possess a traditional law enforcement education.”
   The city already appointed two candidates with four-year degrees in disciplines other than law enforcement, according to the department. The candidates were sent to a four-month training program at Hennepin Technical College and must pass a state licensing exam. Once hired, the department provides a 16-week field training program.
     Seven of the eight candidates for the District 196 school board made their pitch for election on Nov. 7 at a forum sponsored by the Dakota County League of Women Voters.
     There were few fireworks at the event, with candidates offering few specifics and having little to say as to why they would serve the district better than other candidates. Questions were screened and pre-selected by the organization hosting the forum at the Rosemount city hall.
     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. Buechele is the only candidate who did not participate in the forum. No explanation was provided for his absence.
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.
     Two candidates, Gierok and Virnig, said they were running, in part, because women are not represented on the board. There is currently only one female member of the school board, Chair Jackie Magnuson. Both candidates admitted during the forum they have not actually attended a school board meeting in person, opting instead to watch them on television or over the internet.
     Although the school district is facing a looming deficit, there was no discussion at the forum of what, if any, programs would be cut. Questions selected by the forum sponsors focused on adding programs, changing school start times, and adding services for minorities and immigrant students.
     Candidate O’Neil voiced urgency about changing start times based on research indicating the benefit to students. O’Neil referenced that changes could be made in the district with a block of four votes from the board.
     Few voters have seen the forum so far, with attendance limited to a meeting room in Rosemount and 88 views of the program on YouTube. The event was held the night before a four-day weekend in the school system, a busy travel time in the district.
     Candidate Coulson referenced several times that his daughter is a teacher in the district. Earlier this week, the teacher’s collective bargaining group, Dakota County United Educators, sent a mailing supporting Coulson, incumbent Mike Roseen, and challenger Craig Angrimson. Incumbent Gary Huusko was not referenced in the mailing.
     There is no apparent record of Coulson recuing himself from votes involving his daughter’s school. In addition, parents of students in his daughter’s classes, were not informed of the connection, even during discussions of classroom issues with the administration.
     There is no early voting for the school board election at Eagan city hall. The election is under the direction of the school district, which will provide absentee ballots upon request until Nov. 6. The election will be held at limited polling places throughout the school district on Nov. 7.

Canadian agents warned Eagan family at U.S. border crossing

      Canadian border agents warned an Eagan man on a federal terrorist watch list he might have difficulty returning to the United States, according to an amended complaint filed in the man’s lawsuit against the government Oct. 12.
      Abdisalam Wilwal, 43, of 1540 Thomas Lake Pointe Road #316, Eagan, and his wife, Sagal Abdigani, are suing the head of the Department of Homeland Security and various federal agents claiming they violated his and his family’s civil rights when the family, including four children ages 5 to 14, was detained while trying to re-enter the country at a border crossing in N. Dakota in March 2015. The family claimed they were visiting the woman’s sister in Saskatchewan, Canada.
      “Canadian border officers reviewed the family’s travel documents and questioned Mr. Wilwal about the family’s destination and the purpose of their trip,” the amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court said. “The officers cleared the family to enter Canada but told Mr. Wilwal that their records included a notation from U.S. authorities that might result in U.S. authorities questioning him more than usual when he sought to reenter the United States.”
      When the family tried to re-enter the U.S. three days later, according to the complaint, U.S. border agents ordered Wilwal, originally from Somalia, from the family’s minivan at gunpoint. The group was held for several hours, during which time Abdigani sought to return to her minivan and use her cell phone, according to court records. Federal agents found a pro-Muslim software application on her teenage son’s cell phone during their detention, according to court documents.
      Families with children are not immune from questioning at border crossings as women and children have been used in recent suicide bombing terrorist attacks, particularly in Nigeria, according to media reports.  In their lawsuit, the Wilwals are seeking monetary damages as well as an injunction that would essentially give them freedom to travel back and forth across the Canadian border without being stopped or questioned.
      Minnesota court records did not disclose a history of convictions for violent crimes. However, the couple has an unusual history of parking offenses. According to court records, Abdigani has been cited 13 times for driving offenses including texting while driving, operating a motor vehicle without a license in possession, and parking in prohibited areas in downtown Minneapolis. Wilwal has twice been convicted of parking in a fire lane or other restricted area, according to court records.
      The Eagan couple has filed for divorce twice, in 2015 and 2016, according to court records.  Wilwal’s Thomas Lake address, as listed in federal documents, is a large apartment complex next to an elementary school.
      The court granted the defendants an extension to file its response to the lawsuit.

Construction workers have paved the way for seniors at the Gramercy Park senior housing complex to travel to the city’s newly built shopping center without having to cross a high-speed busy county road with the completion of an extension to Quarry Road.
     A $1.2 million city project is replacing county road access to the senior development via Yankee Doodle Road with access from a lower speed city street. The speed limit on the new road will be 30 miles per hour. The new road will also narrow at the Gramercy Park entrance from 42 feet to 24 feet to allow a pedestrian crosswalk.
     The project also includes trails and improvements at nearby Quarry Park. A baseball field at the rear of the park is slated to be moved closer to a soccer field.
 Bloomington man killed by truck bomb
   A Bloomington man was among 276 killed in a truck bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Sunday, Oct. 15. Three hundred people were injured.

State supreme court overturns DWI charges

   The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the driving while impaired (DWI) convictions of a woman repeatedly found in her car under the influence of a chemical duster, reasoning that the chemical does not qualify as a hazardous substance under state law.
   The defendant in the case, Chantel Lynn Carson, had been arrested three times for DWI while under the influence of difluoroethane (DFE). In one case, a witness called police to report Carson was passed out at a restaurant drive-thru with a gas duster, a spray can used to clean dust from electronics, under her arm.
   A week later, police found Carson slumped over the console of a running vehicle with two cans of duster in the car.
   Less than three months later, police were called to the scene of a car in a ditch off the highway. They eventually found the car in the parking lot of a business with five cans of duster in the car and Carson unconscious in the driver’s seat.
   “In Minnesota, it is a crime to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while ‘the person is knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person so as to substantially impair the person's ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle,’” the court wrote.
   “Hazardous substance, in turn, is defined as ‘any chemical or chemical compound that is listed as a hazardous substance in rules adopted under chapter 182 (occupational safety and health).’” 
   “We acknowledge that based on our holding today, a driver dangerously intoxicated by DFE is not criminally liable under the plain language of the current DWI statutes,” the Supreme Court wrote. “This public policy concern should be directed to the Legislature because we must read this state's laws as they are, not as some argue they should be.” 

Sexual predator arrested for not registering

Illinois man facing felony charge for party drug
   An Illinois man has been summoned to appear in Dakota County court Dec. 18 on a felony drug possession charge.
      Jeremy Deshawn Johnson, 36, of 433 Calumet Blvd., Hazel Crest, IL, has been summoned to appear in court Dec. 18 on a charge of possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. The felony charge stems from a Jan. 9 traffic stop by a police officer investigating a report of suspected fraud at Target.
      Target’s store security contacted Eagan police to report a group of males acting suspiciously in the store and “acting strangely in a vehicle without license plates,” according to court records.
      After stopping the car on Route 35E, the police officer asked the people in the car to step out of the vehicle until they could be identified. Police noticed a bulge in the jacket of one of the men and asked him to remove what was in his pocket. Among the items in his pocket was a glass vial containing a liquid which, according to court records, tested positive at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Lab for 1.161 grams of GBL, gamma-butyrolactone, an industrial solvent used as a party drug classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.
Kip Lamont Martin
   A Hastings man previously convicted of manslaughter, weapons charges, and possession of crack cocaine is in Dakota County jail for failing to register as a sexual predator.
   Kip Lamont Martin, 41, of 1294 18th St., Hastings, is charged with failure to register as a predatory offender, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Martin is required to register as a predatory offender following a 2003 conviction on a charge of criminal sexual conduct, according to the complaint. The new charge alleges Martin failed to inform authorities he was living with a relative in Minneapolis after leaving the Cochran Halfway House in Hastings in August.
   Martin pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Hennepin County in 1990, according to court records. He was not sent to prison for the killing but sentenced to unsupervised probation and ordered to complete an unspecified treatment program. He was found to have violated his probation in 1993, court records said. As a result of the violation, he was ordered to live with his grandmother, get his GED, find a job and attend therapy one day a week.
   In 1993, Martin was charged with third-degree possession of crack cocaine and being a felon in possession of a pistol. The weapon charge was dropped as part of a deal when he pleaded guilty to the crack charge, according to court records.  There is no public record of Martin’s sentencing in that case.
   Martin faced another charge of unlawful possession of a firearm in Hennepin County in 1999 and was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $50 as part of a plea deal, according to court records. He was also again ordered to get his GED.
   Martin apparently did not serve the full five years, according to court records, because in 2002, he was charged with another crime in Dakota County: criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree. Details of the crime and the danger Martin presents to the public are not available because the courts do not disclose criminal complaints in cases of sex crimes.
   Martin pleaded guilty to the criminal sexual conduct charge in 2003, according to court records, and was ordered to register as a predatory offender.