Craig going to Congress, City Council preserves status quo

EAGAN, MN – After early election results looked like his defeat, Eagan City Council member Paul Bakken made a strong finish to victory Tuesday night, recapturing the lead from challenger David Meyer and finishing with more votes, 18,402, than the two other city council candidates, according to figures from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
   What looked like an upset early in the night turned around late, with Bakken capturing the city’s largest precincts by large margins. Just hours before, with 85 percent of the city’s precincts reporting, David Meyer, a third candidate challenging two incumbents appeared on the verge of upsetting the status quo at Eagan’s city hall. Meyer, a community volunteer who advocated unity and “a fresh pair of eyes” for city government, was ahead of the two incumbents by a strong lead in all the precincts that had reported their votes.
   When the final results were in, Meyer finished third, with 10,857 votes, behind Bakken’s 18,402 and Gary Hansen’s 16,083, channeling Yogi Berra, “it ain’t over until it’s over.”
   In another close race through the night, Eagan resident Angie Craig will be going to Congress, after capturing more than 52 percent of the vote to defeat incumbent Jason Lewis. The race between Craig, a Democrat, and Republican incumbent Jason Lewis was too close to call at 9:45 p.m., with the two separated by fewer than 3,000 votes. Craig was slightly ahead with 50 percent of the vote to Lewis’s 49 percent.
   At the state level, state representative Laurie Halverson, a Democrat, captured more than 62 percent of the vote to defeat Republican challenger Doug Willetts. Halverson had an early lead over Republican Doug Willetts, 765 votes, or 57 percent, over 568 votes, or 42.6 percent.
   As Eagan’s first election returns were reported, it appeared there might be a shake-up at city hall. Meyer rose to the lead from the earliest returns available, more than 41 percent of the vote, with five percent of precincts reporting. By 10 p.m., Meyer had nearly 4,000 votes, almost 600 more than his closest opponent, incumbent Gary Hansen. Bakken trailed with 2,271 votes. Less than an hour later, with 85 percent of the city’s votes in, Meyer was still ahead of both incumbents:  15,354 votes for Meyer, 13,516 for Gary Hansen, and 9,026 for Paul Bakken.
   Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, running unopposed, was re-elected but failed to capture 100 percent of the vote, with nearly two percent of voters writing in their choices for mayor. Among those receiving write-in votes, according to voters, were the head of Eagan’s Advisory Planning Commission Jane Vandepoehl.
   At the county level, Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie and County Attorney James Backstrom, both the only candidates on the ballot, appear likely to reclaim their seats, but not by 100 percent. Dozens of write-in votes reduced their share of the vote by several percentage points.
   Despite the small number of candidates, Eagan’s election results took longer to compile than many other surrounding communities. At 9 p.m., winners in some statewide races had been announced, but none of Eagan’s precinct votes had been reported.
   Renovations at Eagan’s city hall displaced some voting activities. The city’s early voting, previously conducted at city hall, was moved to the Fire Safety Center off Yankee Doodle Road. The precinct that normally votes there had to travel to an alternate site, a church on Lone Oak Road, a difficult drive with heavy industrial traffic near the on-ramp to I-494.
Bakken is back. After early election results appeared headed for an upset, Eagan City Council Member captured the city's largest precincts to retain his seat.
Eagan City Council candidate David Meyer took an early and substantial lead over two incumbents in Tuesday's election.

Zenner back with the Lions

DETROIT, Mich. – Eagan High School alum Zach Zenner has re-signed as a running back with the NFL's Detroit Lions, according to The Detroit Free Press.
    Zenner, described as a "fan favorite" had been waived with an injury settlement last September.

As audit approaches, board goes camera-shy

ROSEMOUNT, MN – With a new finance director and facing what it claims will be a $25 million budget deficit, the District 196 school board has decided to look at the district’s financial audit off-camera.
   The school board this month will deviate from its standard procedure for reviewing the audit report from a regular school board meeting, preserved for public viewing and accessible to the public on YouTube, to a special meeting Nov. 19, which will require anyone interested in the school district’s finances to drive to Rosemount before the end of many people’s work day.
   In a brief mention at the end of the Nov. 5 school board meeting, District 196 school board chair Jackie Magnuson attributed the change to the calendar. The board is scheduled to approve the audit report at its Dec. 10 meeting.

City Council tables housing proposal

EAGAN, MN  -- In a rare breach of the typically jocular comraderie of Eagan’s City Council chambers, a heated exchange erupted between Mayor Mike Maguire and Council Member Paul Bakken during an Election Eve discussion of a proposal to bring 50 units of high-density, lower-priced apartments to the corner of Lexington Avenue and Lone Oak Road.
   The discussion also revealed that Dakota County’s housing agency denied the developer’s requested tax credits – which would have made the project more economically attractive for development -- a decision which could affect plans to build less expensive “workforce” housing on the 1.26-acre site. The reduced-rate housing units were one of the few options available to owners looking to sell single-family homes now at the site, after the county took part of the land to expand the intersection.
   Following at times heated discussion, during which other city council members raised concerns about the traffic and other problems the development could create, the city council voted unanimously to table further discussion of the project for two weeks, until its next regular meeting Nov. 20.
EAGAN, MN, Nov. 6, 2018 -- Campaign signs along Braddock Trail Road across the street from Eagan High School were marked with paint.

District 196 board approves new superintendent contract

    School District 196 has reached a contract agreement with its new superintendent, Mary Kreger, according to school board documents.
   Under the agreement, Kreger, the district’s former head of special education and interim superintendent, is expected to sign a three-year contract with a 2018-19 salary of $218,990. Kreger's raise will be retroactive to June 2018, the time she began serving as interim superintendent. The retroactive pay raise follows the school board's  approval of a $41,000 bonus for Kreger when she was initially appointed.
   The board did not disclose how much Kreger will be paid for the next two years of the contract.
   Kreger was named superintendent after the board announced Oct. 22 it would not conduct a more comprehensive search to replace former school superintendent Jane Berenz, who made a sudden announcement last spring she would retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Kreger was named interim superintendent to allow the school board time to search for a new superintendent. The school board, which is projecting a budget deficit, then abandoned plans for that search and appointed Kreger superintendent without a public interview or vetting process of a candidate search.
ISD 196 School Superintendent
Mary Kreger

ISD 196 sets rates for substitutes


Appeals Court affirms Eagan drug case dismissal

    The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss drug and weapons charges against an Eagan man reasoning that Eagan police violated his constitutional rights when they searched his apartment.
   Eagan police did not have enough reliable evidence to bring a drug-detection dog to sniff outside the apartment where suspect Cabbott Weyker lived with his mother, the Court of Appeals concluded, in an unpublished opinion. Therefore, the appellate court held, a Dakota County district court judge properly ruled the evidence seized in the case should be suppressed and would not be admissible in court, a ruling which led the district court to dismiss the case against Weyker last May.
   “The [search] warrant should not have been issued, and the evidence discovered under the invalid warrant presumably must be suppressed,” Judge Kevin G. Ross wrote for the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
   Weyker had been charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, according to court records. The charges stemmed from an Eagan police search of Weyker’s apartment during which police reported finding two rounds of rifle ammunition and three digital scales, one of which “was powdered with a crystalline substance that tested positive for methamphetamine,” according to the Court of Appeals opinion.
   But the Court of Appeals held that Eagan police should not have searched the apartment and should not have been issued a search warrant based on the information provided in the application for the warrant, which included information from St. Paul police. The appellate court reasoned Eagan police officer Peter Meyer lacked sufficient reason to bring the drug dog to Weyker’s apartment door.
   “The warrant application indicates only that police obtained information that connected Weyker to drug possession and activity,” Judge Ross wrote. “It says nothing of the source of this information. It hides the source behind the passive voice, declaring unrevealingly that Weyker ‘has been seen’ in possession of eight to ten pounds of methamphetamine. This foggy declaration gives no officer reason to suppose that St. Paul police are the original source since, presumably, the St. Paul police investigator would have arrested Weyker on the spot if the investigator had seen Weyker with the methamphetamine. A reasonable officer would therefore infer that the information originated from someone else’s report to the investigator.”
   “The tip was conclusory and not sufficiently reliable to create reasonable suspicion of criminal activity inside Weyker’s apartment,” the Court of Appeals reasoned.
   “The remaining information in the warrant application also falls short of creating reasonable suspicion. This other information describes Weyker’s criminal history,” the appellate court continued. “Federal appellate courts discussing the issue have consistently agreed that a suspect’s criminal history alone cannot establish reasonable suspicion.”
   “Because the only apparently reliable information considered by Officer Meyer was Weyker’s criminal history, the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff,” Judge Ross wrote. “The dog sniff therefore violated Weyker’s rights under the Minnesota Constitution. Our conclusion that the dog sniff violated Weyker’s constitutional rights informs our consideration as to whether the warrant was properly issued. It was not.”
   The Court of Appeals also rejected an argument that, even if police obtained the evidence unconstitutionally, it should still be admitted under an exception for errors made in good faith.
    “Because the officer conducted the dog sniff without reasonable suspicion and obtained a warrant without probable cause, and because we will not apply the Leon goodfaith exception, we affirm the district court’s decision to suppress the evidence,” the Court of Appeals wrote.