What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Parents at Hmong International seek principal, more stability

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: October 23, 2014 - 4:33 PM

By ALEJANDRA MATOS, Star Tribune

Parents at Hmong International Academy are demanding that the Minneapolis school district appoint a permanent principal that will stay for more than a year.

About a dozen parents marched a mile from the school to confront school leaders at the district headquarters.

They say they have had a new principal every year for several years now and want permanent leadership.

The lack of leadership represents a lack of interest by district officials to truly address the needs of the Hmong Community, parents said.

"Parents feel if there is always a change, it means the goals change, so they don't feel they are receiving the right support from teachers and the district," Mailor Vang said.

Once at the district headquarters, the district's top administrators, including chief executive officer Michael Goar, met with the group of parents for nearly two hours.

They demanded the district give the school a permanent principal and assistant principal who both speak Hmong and understand the culture. 

But one parent, who is African American, walked out, saying the school needs a strong leader, not just a culturally competent leader.

Goar said he wants to hear from more parents at the school. He committed to personally attending the next community engagement meeting in early November.

The demand to speak to Goar came after associate superintendent Laura Cavender left a school meeting 20 minutes after it started Thursday night.

The community was outraged, saying she disrespected the families, and questioned her commitment to the school.

One parent said he took unpaid leave from work to speak to Cavender, according to notes from the meeting.

"I sacrificed $700 worth of pay. She insulted me personally," the parent said.

Cavender and other district leaders apologized, saying it the early departure was a misunderstanding. Cavender said she did not know the meeting was called to engage with her.

"My heart is here and I'm here to do the work," she said.

Man indicted on murder charges in July 4th weekend shooting at party

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: October 23, 2014 - 3:26 PM

A 22-year-old Minneapolis man has been indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges in connection with the shooting death of one woman and the wounding of another over the July 4th weekend, prosecutors said.

Ryan Jambone Pettis was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and attempted first-degree murder in an indictment returned by a grand jury last week. Pettis is accused of fatally shooting Francesca Desandre, 24, on the morning of July 5 on the front steps of her home, moments after authorities say he shot another woman.

Another man, Marco Gresham, of Minneapolis, remains in custody on an attempted murder charge in connection with the same shooting, police said.

Authorities say that earlier that night, Pettis shot a female party goer at a house party on the 2600 block of 3rd Street N. Desandre was shot as she fled for cover after hearing the gunshots, police said

The other victim, identified in the initial police report as V.G., was later taken to North Memorial Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency surgery to repair “extensive internal damage.”

Pettis remains in Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond.

UPDATE: An earlier verison of this post misstated the charges against the second suspect, Marco Gresham.

DFLers press GOP for more evidence in Hayden inquiry

Posted by: under Politics and government Updated: October 22, 2014 - 4:43 PM

By Alejandra Matos

Staff Writer

Senate Republicans were pressed to present more evidence to support their claims that DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden threatened the Minneapolis School District to award a $375,000 to a community group with ties to his father.

A state Senate ethics committee deliberated for more than two hours Wednesday without coming to a consensus on how to proceed on an ethics complaint filed by the GOP. The committee, made up of two Republicans and two DFLers, could not pass a motion to dismiss the case because there was no probable cause.

The ethics inquiry stems from Star Tribune reporting that Hayden threatened to withhold state education money if Minneapolis school officials did not award a $375,000 contract to Community Standards Initiative, a group aimed at curbing the achievement gap.

Hayden's father, Peter, has represented himself as being a member of CSI, but insists he has never been paid by the group. 

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, says Hayden violated Senate ethics.

The committee heard testimony from both sides to determine if Hayden used his influence to steer a contract to CSI.

State Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, questioned Hann's reliance on the press accounts without doing his own investigation. 

"We are public officials. People can, and do, say all kinds of things about us," Lourey said.

He said Hann's complaint relied on an unnamed source quoted in the Star Tribune saying Hayden and Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, threatened to withhold funding if it did not award the contract to CSI.

"I did not call the school board because no one would say that on the record without a subpoena," Hann said. "I think they will have to be compelled to come, and say if that happened." 

City won't sue over Washington NFL mascot

Posted by: Erin Golden under Politics and government Updated: October 22, 2014 - 3:31 PM

The City of Minneapolis lacks the legal standing to keep Washington’s NFL team from using its nickname when it plays the Vikings here next month, the city’s attorney said Wednesday.

City Council members had expressed interested in taking action against the team, which has been criticized by Native American groups and other organizations for its use of the Redskins nickname. The game will take place at the University of Minnesota, which has publicized its own objection to the use of the word.

City Attorney Susan Segal said that while her she and some members of her office “would like nothing better” than to take legal action to help force the team to change its name, the city has limited options. She told a council committee that a ban on the name could be seen as a violation of the First Amendment, and noted that the city’s civil rights ordinance does not apply to the University of Minnesota. 

Segal said it’s possible someone could launch a lawsuit on the basis that the use of the name violated rules about public accommodations, but that would have to be done by an individual who could claim that the use of the word created a hostile environment. 

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I think we’ve come to the conclusion that the city itself does not have a cause of action against the team that is likely to be successful. In some ways, we are about the worst plaintiff you can try to (use) for an expansion of law in this area.”

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