Future of Minneapolis’ Office of Performance and Innovation

WCCO-TV’s Pauleen Le writes: “Fourth of July celebrations turned chaotic near downtown Minneapolis Monday night. Police were seen investigating what appears to be a shooting at Boom Island Park, and hours later chasing off crowds of people who were setting off fireworks in the street in the city’s downtown. Things took a turn around 11:30 p.m., as people said they were taking in fireworks for the Fourth of July at Boom Island Park. The area was soon crowded with a lot of police officers stringing crime tape and the ground littered with evidence markers.”

Susan Du writes in the Star Tribune: “Brian Smith, who leads the city of Minneapolis office responsible for launching teams of mental health professionals to de-escalate certain conflicts traditionally handled by police, was heralded this summer in Germany for work that ‘counters structural injustice.’ But in Minneapolis, the future of the Office of Performance and Innovation (OPI), seen by its supporters as a key cog in the city’s effort to expand public safety alternatives to armed police, is up in the air. … City Council members backing OPI’s mission have been pressuring Mayor Jacob Frey to define how the agency will function going forward in relation to his ongoing restructuring of City Hall governance structures, and say they are unsatisfied with his answers.”

The Pioneer Press reports: “An 18-year-old man died early Monday morning after a firework exploded in his face in Brooklyn Park, police said. Police were called to a park in the 9800 block of Fallgold Parkway North around 1:30 a.m. When they arrived, they found the 18-year-old man with severe wounds to his hands and face, according to a press release from the Brooklyn Park Police Department. A friend was performing CPR, they said. Crews from the Brooklyn Park Fire Department and North Ambulance Paramedics also attempted to save the man’s life. He was transported to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, where he was pronounced dead.”

Also in the Pioneer Press, Mara H. Gottfried writes: “With mourning underway for three young children whose bodies were pulled from a Vadnais Heights lake on Friday and Saturday, their families and law enforcement are looking for answers. The body of Molly Cheng, the 23-year-old mother of the children, was also found in Vadnais Lake. The Ramsey County sheriff’s office said Saturday they are investigating the case as a possible triple murder-suicide. The deaths came on the heels of the reported suicide of Cheng’s husband, who was the children’s father. Maplewood police and firefighters were called to the family’s home in the 1300 block of Pearson Drive on Friday about 10:30 a.m. and found him deceased.”

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WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman reports: “Northfield Police along with state investigators continue looking for missing six-year-old Elle Ragin. She is about three feet six inches tall with curly brown hair and brown eyes. Police found her mother’s body Saturday morning inside their Northfield apartment. Investigators believe she died by suicide. Investigators are attempting to piece together a timeline they hope can lead them to where Elle’s mom, Lisa Wade, was in the past two weeks. What they do know is no one had seen Elle or her mom since then and they believe the six-year-old could be in danger.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “Members of the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition are rallying for a new bike trail along historic Summit Avenue and accusing opponents of spreading misinformation in a ploy to preserve parking. A growing number of Summit Avenue homeowners have planted ‘S.O.S.’ lawn signs asking the city to ‘Save Our Street,’ a nod to fears that new connections to regional bike trails will uproot majestic trees from their street. The brouhaha over street plans yet to be finalized has left city staff in the uncomfortable position of attempting to solicit input and feedback on potential trail designs while navigating an increasingly vitriolic war of words.”

At KMSP-TV, Theo Keith says, “The Fourth of July weekend saw hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans hitting the roads while dodging construction cones at more than 200 highway work zones across the state. If some get their way, Minnesota will install speed cameras in work zones as soon as 2024. House lawmakers and traffic safety advocates say the technology is required after a year in which more people died in speed-related crashes than in any year since 2003, according to Minnesota State Patrol data. The cameras — which critics say raise significant legal questions — were part of end-of-session negotiations this spring. Those broader talks broke down, leaving the effort for next year.”

Also at KSTP-TV, this from Mia Laube, “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has tested positive for COVID-19, the official says. Ellison tweeted Monday that he is fully vaccinated and feeling fine.”

At KARE-TV Eva Anderson says, “Kerry D’Amato has worked in the animal welfare landscape for three decades, and she says she’s never seen it this bad. D’Amato currently serves as the executive director of Pet Haven, Minnesota’s first foster-based rescue, now in its 70th year. She says during the past two years, our state has seen a great amount of pressure put on local shelters. ‘Due to the ripple effects of COVID, there has been a dramatic uptick in pets being surrendered, pets finding their way to shelters, pets being abandoned in apartments and homes, with evictions,’ D’Amato said.… D’Amato sees the trend as two-pronged: first, many pet owners who adopted during the pandemic may have been unprepared to care for a furry friend. …Then record-high inflation exacerbated the problem.”

For the Forum News Service, David Olson writes: “A new 188-mile bike route, designated as U.S. Bike Route 20, connects Moorhead to St. Cloud via a blend of off-road trails and carefully selected roadways. Much of the route parallels Interstate 94 and takes advantage of a number of state and regional trails, with more than two-thirds of the route making use of off-road trails. … The new route is dubbed U.S. Bike Route 20, but the public is invited to help select a new name by visiting research.net/r/USBikeRoute20name and voting for one of the following options: Glacial Lakes Bicycle Route; Prairie Lakes Bicycle Route; MiddleSota Bicycle Route; Rivers to Prairies Bicycle Route; Towns and Fields Bicycle Route.”

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