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

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Two stranger rapes in Whittier prompt police warning

Posted by: Suzanne Ziegler Updated: June 28, 2013 - 12:34 PM

By Matt McKinney

Two women reported rapes in separate late-night attacks in Minneapolis this week, both occurring in the Whittier neighborhood, police said Friday. Both attacks took place around 2 a.m. in public spaces while each woman was walking alone.

The first attack occurred Monday near the intersection of West Franklin Avenue and Lyndale Avenue South at 2:20 a.m. The woman was walking down an alley when the suspect approached her and tried to make small talk. He then threatened to kill her, showed a gun and dragged her to a grassy area and sexually assaulted her.

The second attack took place Wednesday in the 2800 block of Stevens Avenue South at 2:07 a.m. The woman was walking home through a park when she heard someone trying to get her attention. She ignored the man but was attacked and dragged to an area where she was sexually assaulted.

No further information was available. The victims were not able to give detailed descriptions of the suspects.

Police officials Friday issued a list of safety tips:

* Avoid walking alone at night, especially in dark or isolated areas. 

* Limit alcohol consumption while out.

* If you arrive as a group, leave as a group; don't leave someone behind.

* Ensure everyone can get home safely before splitting up.

* Trust your instincts; stay alert to your surroundings.

* Carry your house or car keys in your hand while outside.

* If you hear unexpected or suspicious activity outside, look to see if someone needs help or needs you to call 911 for them.


Child, two adults shot in north Minneapolis; all expected to live

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: June 26, 2013 - 11:55 AM

A four-year-old child and two adults who were shot Tuesday night in the 3600 block of Penn Av. N. were not victims of a random shooting, according to the Minneapolis police department, an indication that the adult victims and the shooter knew each other. 

The shooting victims are all expected to live, according to authorities. The two adults remain sedated at the hospital and police have been unable to interview them. The public is not at risk and it appears the shooting was an isolated incident, according to an update from the Minneapolis police distributed late Wednesday morning.

The shooting suspect was identified as a black male, 5'8" tall with a heavy build. Anyone with information was asked to call the police department TIPS line at 612-692-TIPS (8477).



City to pay out $3 million for death in police misconduct lawsuit

Posted by: Randy Furst Updated: May 24, 2013 - 3:31 PM

The Minneapolis City Council council approved a $3.075 million settlement on Friday to resolve a federal law suit filed by the family of David Smith, a 28-year-eight old Minneapolis man, who was killed during a struggle with two police officers at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA in 2010.

(Video above was produced on Feb. 6, 2012.)

The settlement is the second largest payout for a police misconduct lawsuit in the history of Minneapolis. The city will pay the Smith family $1.1 million and $1.975 million in attorneys fees to the Minneapolis law firm of Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp. It's second only to the $4.5 million paid in 2007 to a Minneapolis officer shot by another officer.

The death of Smith raised questions about putting a suspect on his stomach, and holding him down by putting knees on his back, known as prone restraint. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide.

In a statement issued after the council action, Susan Segal, Minneapolis city attorney said "today's settlement is a responsible way to bring this to a close in the face of mounting legal costs that would continue to grow significantly through a trial."

Late union update swells board race record

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: May 24, 2013 - 11:41 AM

The record for fund-raising in the relatively new category of district seats on the Minneapolis school board has jumped again, thanks to an amended report by a teacher-backed political fund.

The Local 59 Political Fund now reports spending just over $15,000 on behalf of Patty Wycoff in the election last fall on the West Side of Minneapolis that was won by Josh Reimnitz in a squeaker. All but $300 of that was an independent expenditure.  The new total reported in March is triple the amount disclosed by the teacher fund in January.

The total raised in the race is now more than $67,000, including both campaign and independent fundraising.  That's largely swelled by the previously reported $40,000 raised by Reimnitz and his campaign committee, which is a new record for any school campaign, whether city-wide or for one of the board's six district seats. The independent spending for Reimnitz reported in January by the New York City-based 50CAN education reform advocacy arm adds $6,000.   

Wycoff raised a mere $7,195, but spent $8,445, according to the campaign report.  The increased amount of $15,000 spent by teacher union members somewhat reduced the campaign spending finance gap between the two candidates. But more than twice as much was spent to elect Reimnitz.

Reimnitz had already eclipsed the previous funding record from 2010 set by board member Richard Mammen, who raised $34,523 in running city-wide.

Independent spending late int he campaign by both the union and 50CAN drew cries of foul from the opposite side. Both expenditures came late enough in the campaigns that the amounts and donors didn't have to be disclosed before Election Day.

Mark Rotenberg to leave U of M to become general counsel at Johns Hopkins

Posted by: Randy Furst Updated: April 8, 2013 - 12:45 PM

Mark Rotenberg has resigned as general counsel at the University of Minnesota to become vice president and general counsel of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., the U of M announced today. He will move to his new position on June 3.

Rotenberg has been general counsel at the U for 20 years and his career was intertwined with many of the biggest news stories that came out of the university, many having to do with athletics. Those included the paper-writing scandal under Gopher basketball coach Clem Haskins, the negotiation of the naming rights and sponsorship of the TCF Bank Football Stadium, and the lease for the Vikings to play on campus after the Metrodome roof collapse.

He served under four presidents and 11 Board of Regents chairs.

Chuck Tombarge said in a news release that there have been no major infractions in any sports for a decade since the Haskins scandal. Athletic compliance officials now report to the general counsel and the provost. It noted his "litigation successes" in the recovery of more than $580 million in money through litigation, calling it among the highest recovery rates for general counsel offices in the United States.

He also created "an in-house team of legal experts in transactional law which covers a range of legal issues including technology commercialization, patents, copyrights, trademarks, real estate, public finance and other areas," the U news release said.

Rotenberg is quoted in the release as saying, "It has been a great honor to represent the University of Minnesota as general counsel for the past two decades. While it's terribly difficult to leave the U, and the Golden Gophers will always have a place in my heart, Johns Hopkins offers a unique and very special professional opportunity that I cannot pass up."

The release also quoted University President Erc Kaler as saying, "Mark has epitomized the kind of integrity and accountability that all public institutions like ours strive for. His record of success spans the legal spectrum from litigation to transactional matters, to building one of the finest offices of general counsel at any university in the country. I will miss his legal acumen and his deep knowledge of the University of Minnesota."

Linda Cohen, chair of the Board of Regents, said in the release that the regents are "deeply grateful to Mark Rotenberg for his years of distinguished service to the University of Minnesota." She said he had provided "wise counsel" to the board and its 11 chairs and it was with "mixed feelings" that she congratulated him on his appointment to "prestigious" Johns Hopkins. "The University of Minnesota will miss his thoughful expertise and guidance," she stated.

Rotenberg was not immediately available for an interview. Tombarge said he was meeting with staff at Johns Hopkins today.




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