Schools at stake: Minneapolis open seats on school board

Voters in next month’s Minneapolis school board election will see something new on the ballot. After approving a referendum in 2008 that gradually expands the school board from seven to nine members, they now will see school board candidates running for seats based on geographic districts as well as citywide seats. 
This year, that means there will be three district-based seats on the ballot, as well as two at-large seats, as the board grows to eight members. In 2012, a ninth member will be added as three more district-based seats and one at-large seat will be on the ballot. A second article will look at the district-based school board races. From a crowded, 10-candidate field, four finalists emerged from the August primary to contend for the two at-large school board seats. Continue Reading

Choosing a judge in Ramsey County

Voters in Ramsey County will decide two contested judicial races when they go to the polls next month — one for an open judicial seat held by retiring District Court Judge M. Michael Monahan, and one a contest between a sitting judge and a public defender. 
Gloria Bogen and Mark Ireland advanced from a crowded nine-candidate primary in August to be on the final ballot to replace Monahan, who is retiring after 19 years on the bench. Meanwhile, Judge William H. Leary, a 2002 Ventura appointee, faces a challenge from Connie S. Iverson, a Ramsey County public defender, in what appears to be a continuation of a dust-up between Leary and the Public Defenders office than began last year. The eventual winners will take their place alongside 27 other judges, four referees and two magistrates who represent Minnesota’s 2nd Judicial District from courts in St. Paul and Maplewood. Twelve of those other judges are also on the Nov. Continue Reading

Ramsey County Attorney: Choi v. Schultz

For a first-time candidate, John Choi exudes confidence.The former St. Paul City Attorney is racking up the endorsements in his bid to replace outgoing Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner — former Ramsey County Attorney Tom Foley last month got added to a list that includes the mayors of eight Ramsey County cities, five of the seven current Ramsey County board members, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, the DFL Party, the St. Paul Police Federation and a laundry list of union, legal and elected officials.  “I think I’ve done a really good job,” Choi says of his four years as City Attorney. “You never want to get overconfident, but I have a proven track record as both a prosecutor and an administrator that I’m proud of.”His opponent, David Schultz, says he’s also confident — confident that Choi’s momentum topped out in the August primary, which saw Choi receive nearly 50 percent of the vote to Schultz’s 29 percent and third-place candidate and Roseville City Council member Tammy Pust’s 21 percent.Schultz, a former Assistant Attorney General under Skip Humphrey says his 25-year record as a trial lawyer and experience prosecuting and defending cases involving serious felonies sets him apart from his competition, despite also being a first-time candidate.”People are tired of politics as usual, and they don’t want someone using the Ramsey County Attorney’s office as a stepping stone for higher office,” Schultz said. “My only concern is the people of Ramsey County, and I’m not going to run for any other office down the road.”Schultz picked up Pust’s endorsement following her elimination in the primary, but nobody has received Gaertner’s endorsement in the race.The winner will lead an office with a budget of $38 million and more than 300 employees responsible for prosecuting adult felony and all juvenile criminal cases in St. Continue Reading

Covering the kids: Minnesotans sign on for federal health care reform’s young adult coverage

For the last three years, Molly Rosen watched while her son, Casey, struggled with mysterious leg pain from a fall that couldn’t be diagnosed because he didn’t have any health insurance. 
This summer, Casey, now 24, finally got the diagnosis he needed, followed by surgery, after Rosen added him onto her health insurance from her work at the University of Minnesota as an intellectual property paralegal. “Doctors say if (Casey) hadn’t been diagnosed, if they hadn’t found the tumor that was growing, he probably would have lost his leg,” she said. Beginning this fall, the federal health care reform bill signed into law allows parents to cover dependents under age 26 on their plans, regardless of whether they are still going to college, living with their parents or even married. An estimated one in 10 Minnesotans was without health care insurance in 2009, according to a U.S. Census estimate released this month. The ranks of the uninsured grew by 100,000 Minnesotans over the course of the decade, to 450,000 people, the survey reported. Continue Reading

Electing a judge in Ramsey County

The retirement of Ramsey County District Court Judge M. Michael Monahan after 19 years on the bench has opened the door for nine candidates who want to replace him. 
The nine will be pared down to two finalists in a primary on August 10, and those two will go on to the general election in November. The eventual winner will join 28 other judges, four referees and two magistrates who represent Minnesota’s 2nd Judicial District from courts in St. Paul and Maplewood.. The candidates include one woman, no minorities, and four of the candidates in the nonpartisan race are under 40 years of age. All live in St. Continue Reading

Upset ahead in suburban State Senate race?

In a normal year, Sen. Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley), would be headed toward a comfortable re-election to the Senate District 50 seat he has held throughout the decade. 
But a year in which you face an ethical rebuke from your Senate colleagues, find yourself un-endorsed by your own local political party, find yourself facing a late challenge from a political heavyweight in your district and find yourself owing the IRS $250,000 is pretty far from a normal year. Chaudhary, the first Asian-American elected to the Legislature, now finds himself in a match-up with former Rep. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, who won the endorsement that was stripped from Chaudhary earlier this month. The winner of the August10 DFL primary will go on to face Gina Bauman, the Republican-endorsed candidate, a small business owner and New Brighton City Council member. Chaudhary, who won re-election in 2006 with more than 63 percent of the vote, has specialized in outdoors issues during his time in the Legislature, serving as chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee and working for passage in 2008 of the constitutional outdoor and cultural Legacy Amendment. It’s that expertise that got him in trouble during the last session when, in its closing days, he lobbied fellow lawmakers and got language added to a Department of Natural Resources bill that would affect walleye fishing on a lake near Duluth where he has a cabin. Continue Reading

Uncovered in Duluth: GAMC, Medicaid rise to top as 2010 campaign issue

John Micklick’s journey to visit the doctor begins with a call to his mother, who drives up from her home in Albert Lea to his in Duluth to pick him up. 
That’s because Micklick, 34, is on the state’s revamped General Assistance Medical Care program, and the closest hospital that will treat him is North Memorial, in Brooklyn Center. “I don’t have a license or a car,” said Micklick, a former restaurant manager who said he suffers from mental and physical ailments and is currently unemployed. “It makes me feel guilty for her to drive up here, but she says she’ll do anything for her kids.” Micklick said he needs surgery on both his knees to repair damaged cartilage that has bothered him off and on for years. But North Memorial doesn’t have any specialists under contract to treat GAMC patients such as Micklick who need knee surgery, so he hobbles around and hopes he’s not doing further damage to his knees. Continue Reading

St. Cloud’s first Urban Market opening in July

As Minnesota’s population becomes more diverse throughout the state, urban markets are spreading outside the Twin Cities, with St. Cloud’s first outdoor urban market scheduled to open on Wednesday, July 14. Several community groups representing Latino, African-American and Somali residents and businesses in St. Cloud are cosponsoring the urban market, along with nonprofits such as the Initiative Foundation and Central Minnesota Community Foundation.Sponsored by the city’s Downtown Council group of business boosters, the market is expected to run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Wednesday for 12 weeks, said Mimi Doran, co-owner of 2 City Chics, the marketing firm hired to coordinate the event.The event will offer free live entertainment as well as vendors selling lunches, gluten-free pasta and baked goods, yoga and Tai Kwon Do lessons, urban composting and gardening supplies and more, she said.An informational meeting last week saw 32 potential vendors express interest, Doran said.”The common themes that ran throughout the evening seemed to be the interest in helping incubator businesses, providing a reason for community to gather together, and celebrating the diversity in the area,” she said. “Of course, people are wanting to shop local and healthy and are looking forward to being able to buy fresh produce and gift items on their lunch break!”The deadline for applications is Thursday. Continue Reading