Dakota County Chamber to host former Minneapolis Police Chief at women's leadership conference

Leigh Monson reviews
All The Money In The World
   The Dakota County Chamber of Commerce has announced that the keynote speaker of its women’s leadership conference in March will be former Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau, who was asked to resign by the city’s mayor after one of the police officers in her command fatally shot an unarmed woman.
   Harteau resigned from her position as police chief last July, at the request of former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. At the time, Hodges said “I’ve lost confidence in the chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well….We need new leadership at MPD.”
   Harteau resigned six days after the fatal police shooting of Justine Damond, an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a suspected crime in her neighborhood. At the time of the shooting, Harteau was on vacation, where she remained until the day of her resignation.
   Since her forced resignation from the department, Harteau has been promoting herself as a speaker on women’s leadership issues. A social media advertisement said Harteau “is a nationally recognized speaker … encouraging women to excel in their careers.”

City settles discrimination lawsuit

   An Eagan firefighter’s discrimination lawsuit against the city has been settled for $50,000.
   U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson dismissed the case without prejudice Tuesday, Jan. 16, stating that it had been settled, according to a judicial order. The dismissal allows either party to re-open the case within 60 days if the other side does not comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.
   The firefighter, Daniel Benson, filed the federal civil lawsuit claiming he was demoted from battalion chief because of his sexual orientation. In an affidavit filed with the court in December, Benson claimed Eagan Fire Dept. Chief Michael Scott “outed” him at a 2016 training meeting when he asked participants to discuss their family lives.
   “To be blunt,” Benson said in his affidavit, “I was outed as a gay firefighter who was married to another man, at that time.”
   The city denied the claims after the lawsuit was filed, arguing that Benson’s change of position was part of a restructuring of the department. 
   About a third of the settlement was distributed to Benson's attorneys.

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has hit the speakers' circuit since her forced resignation following the fatal police shooting of Justine Damond, an unarmed 911 caller, last July.

Gas pipeline back in business

   The gasoline pipeline that spilled 500 barrels near Thomas Lake last week is back in operation, according to the company that operates the pipeline.
   The Eagan City Council has included discussion of the spill on the agenda of its Tuesday night meeting this week. A spokesman for pipeline operator Magellan Partners said it would reimburse the city for the cost of police and fire departments’ response to the spill.
   The company also said it would continue cleanup and environmental monitoring as required. “The cleanup and environmental monitoring at the site will continue as long as is necessary and will meet or exceed all federal, state and local requirements,” said Magellan Partners’ manager for government and media affairs Thomas L. Byers.
   The spill occurred after a contractor, STS Enterprises, based in Young America, apparently punctured a 12-inch pipe while conducting soil borings shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday. The rupture led to the spill of 500 barrels of gasoline, or 21,000 gallons. Gasoline contaminated the ground surrounding the pipeline, two storm water ponds, nearby streets and private parking lots and city storm sewers, according to a statement issued by Eagan Police Chief James McDonald.

District 196 school board approves 2017-18 budget, elects officers

   The District 196 school board approved its final budget for the 2017-18 school year at its Jan. 8 meeting. The final budget includes about $5 million in deficit spending, according to a budget document released by the district.
   The Jan. 8 meeting was the first for newly elected member Craig Angrimson. Angrimson won election over incumbent Gary Huusko after receiving support from District 196's teachers' union. Huusko also appeared at the Jan. 8 meeting, his first since losing the election, to give a farewell speech.
   The school board re-elected Chair Jackie Magnuson to chair the board. Board meetings under Magnuson's tenure have tended to be brief, with little discussion or debate, and typically open with presentations congratulating students or staff.
   The district’s total budget for the school year to start in September is more than $512 million, according to a budget document released by the district. The largest portion of the budget, about 80 percent, is the district’s general fund. About 12 percent, $62 million, is the district’s building construction fund. Debt service accounts for nearly 4 percent of the budget, $18.7 million.
   The school district is planning to spend $359.6 million from the general fund. The district is expecting about $354.7 million in revenues.  Most of the expenses are for staff salaries and benefits, according to the district. The budget includes more than $6.6 million for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, $6.3 million for English as a second language students, $7.6 million for elementary school administration $5.1 million for technology support and more than $2 million for truancy and social work services.
   The budget for the superintendent and school board staff is nearly $740,000.
   The general fund expenditure budget is $1.61 million more than estimated in the preliminary budget, mainly because of an increase of more than $1 million in purchased services and a nearly $1 million increase in the budget for supplies and materials.
   The public version of the budget does not include details of itemized expenses, providing only general information about the district’s spending.

No gunman found at Tech College

    No gunman was found after a report of a man with a gun on campus prompted a lockdown at Dakota County Technical College Jan. 10.
   The Rosemount school placed the campus on lockdown and issued warnings through its emergency alert system shortly after 1:30 p.m. last Wednesday. The campus was notified it was all-clear, signifying the end of the lockdown at about 2:45 p.m. No injuries were reported.
   Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said no gunman was found on campus and no charges were pending related to the report.
 Man charged with drugs near hotel 

   An Inver Grove Heights man is facing a felony drug charge following a stop at a local hotel.
   Leon Diamond, 27, 7856 Dickson Ave., Inver Grove Heights, was charged with a single count of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor driving after license revocation, according to court records. He has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court Feb. 5.
   According to a criminal complaint, a police officer on patrol in Mendota Heights ran the license plate of the vehicle Diamond was allegedly driving after it entered the parking lot of a local hotel on Nov. 20. A license check revealed the registered owner had had his driver’s license revoked, according to police.
   When the driver got out of the Toyota, the police officer detected an odor of marijuana, according to court records. Police found a container with four plastic bags of white powder during a search of the car, according to the criminal complaint. The bags field-tested positive for .10 to .14 grams of cocaine, according to the criminal complaint.
Woman stopped near library facing drug charge

   A St. Paul woman is facing a drug possession charge stemming from a traffic stop on Wescott Road last July.
   Jalisa Sue Hall, 27, of 930 Birmingham St. #7, St. Paul, has been summoned to appear in Dakota County court on Feb. 12 on a gross misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, according to court records. Hall was a passenger in a car stopped for an equipment violation near the library on Wescott Road. Hall was arrested on a warrant, according to police.
   During a search of the car, police found a crack pipe in the passenger seat and a meth pipe in the vehicle’s center console that field tested positive for a trace amount of methamphetamine, according to court records.

Council to review Vikings' compound liquor license rules

Man facing felony charge for calling Eagan woman

   A Hopkins man is facing a felony domestic abuse charge for allegedly calling an Eagan woman from jail.
   Jeffery Bier, 21, of 1301 Highway 7 #34, Hopkins, was summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court Feb. 5 on a felony charge of violation of a domestic abuse no contact order, according to a criminal complaint. The charge stems from an Oct. 28 call to police in which the victim claimed Bier had called her “numerous times” from the Dakota County jail five days earlier.
   The Eagan City Council is slated to review a proposed change to the city’s liquor laws to accommodate the new Vikings headquarters development.
   The city is proposing an ordinance amendment, a change to the city code, that would apply only to liquor licenses issued at the Vikings site. One of the few restrictions specified under the proposed ordinance is the restriction of liquor sales to people under the age of 21. The ordinance amendment makes no mention of gambling or obscenity, prohibitions addressed under other sections of the city’s liquor rules.
   The city council is expected to address the issue at its Jan. 16 meeting.