Connect with us

News

Ramsey County Sheriff Fletcher counters board chair statement over State Fair police talks

Published

on

Minnesota State Fair reestablishing own police department a year after disbanding one

Calling it “ridiculous,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher on Tuesday responded to a claim by Ramsey County Board Chair Toni Carter that he was not willing to work with the board over concerns it had on the sheriff’s office continuing to provide security during the Minnesota State Fair.

The State Fair on Monday announced that it is reestablishing its own police department, a year after disbanding one and then turning to the sheriff’s office for law enforcement during the 12-day event and until the end of the year under two agreements approved by the county board in late July.

A Nov. 2 board workshop had been planned to review an after-action report on security during the Fair in 2021 and beyond. However, Carter canceled the workshop the same day after Fletcher told her he was unable to make the meeting.

Carter wrote to Gov. Tim Walz two days later, saying “the unwillingness of Sheriff Fletcher to personally engage with the County Board in the important discussions needed to resolve questions and concerns about continuing these agreements.” Carter suggested that the Minnesota Agricultural Society Board, which governs the Fair and maintains the state-owned, 322-acre Fairgrounds, “will need to pursue alternative security arrangements for 2022.”

On Tuesday, Fletcher said Carter’s statement is not true. He told Carter in a letter, which included other county board members, Gov. Tim Walz and County Manager Ryan O’Connor, that he had “attended several meetings, answered every question asked, participated in a board workshop, and assigned staff work with county management.”

“Your assertion that the agreement was not approved because I was not able to attend a meeting is ridiculous,” he wrote. “It would have been more honest and transparent to admit a majority of the County Board did not want to continue the arrangement with the State Fair.”

Fletcher said that he and Carter had exchanged text messages the day before the scheduled workshop and that he told her that five members of the sheriff’s office were going to attend and answer questions after O’Connor presented the report. Fletcher said she never told him that she would cancel the meeting if he was not in attendance.

Asked in an interview Tuesday why he couldn’t make the meeting, Fletcher said it was going to an “informational meeting” led by O’Connor and reiterated that members of his staff were going to attend. “Why? he said. “Because I had a number of other duties that exceed the importance of attending a meeting that I had five members already planning to attend.”

Carter said in an interview Tuesday that Fletcher had personally advocated for the sheriff’s office to provide security during the Fair this year and that “the board was not willing to make that decision to continue in 2022 with a contract without that same advocacy and leadership.”

Security at the Fairgrounds became an issue when the Fair this past spring decided to disband its decades-long police department and instead turn to an outside agency to provide security. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommended that the sheriff’s office take the lead role during the Fair, prompting Fletcher and Fair officials to work on a plan.

But the Ramsey County Board had reservations, with liability being chief among them. In late July, the county board signed off two contracts, one that covered the event and another for non-Fair dates through 2021. The board’s decision came after reassurances from Fair officials that it had intended to purchase $10 million in police professional liability insurance and that the policy would include the county.

Fletcher said in his letter to Carter that her letter to Walz prompted him to work with Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer in re-establishing a Fair police department. The new department “is unlikely to be as robust as a security plan” as the one provided by the sheriff’s office, Fletcher said.

Meanwhile, the Fair said Monday its police department will continue its partnerships with the sheriff’s office and Minnesota State Patrol, along with officers from other law enforcement agencies and medical services providers, plus additional security contractors. Ramsey County sheriff Cmdr. Ron Knafla will serve as the Fair’s police chief.

google news

News

Ex-Chicago Bears star Dan Hampton gets one year probation in Indiana drunken driving case

Published

on

Ex-Chicago Bears star Dan Hampton gets one year probation in Indiana drunken driving case

An Indiana judge sentenced Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton to a year probation and other conditions after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge last month.

Hampton, 64, had an open jug of wine in his truck and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit when he was stopped by a Winfield police officer Nov. 20, according to charging documents.

Lake Superior Judge Julie Cantrell accepted his plea on Dec. 22, court records show.

“Mr. Hampton deeply regrets the decision that he made on that particular evening, but he’s accepted responsibility for his actions and he’s looking forward to successfully completing all the terms of his probation,” his lawyer Matt Fech said Monday.

He admitted Dec. 21 to Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor. In exchange, prosecutors dropped his other pending misdemeanor charges. Hampton would attend a court-ordered substance abuse program, victim impact panel, complete a defensive driving course and an option for 10 days in jail or community service.

An officer pulled Hampton’s black Chevrolet truck over on the 11700 block of Iowa Street just before 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 as he was driving 68 mph in a 40 mph zone, according to court documents.

Hampton, three miles from his Winfield home, claimed he had five beers at a friend’s house in Lowell, documents said. Later at the hospital, he learned his blood alcohol level was .189. The legal limit in Indiana is .08.

“That’s really high,” he whispered, before an officer took him to jail, documents said. He posted a $2,500 bond on Nov. 23.

Known to fans as “Danimal,” Hampton played as a defensive lineman for the Bears from 1979 to 1990, including the 1985 Super Bowl Championship team and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He hosts “The Hamp and O’B” show on WGN Radio with former Bears Ed O’Bradovich, Glen Kozlowski and host Mark Carman.

He was originally charged with operation of a vehicle with a specified amount of alcohol in body, a class A misdemeanor, operating while intoxicated endangering a person, both class A misdemeanors, and operating while intoxicated, a class C misdemeanor.

Hampton had previous drunken driving arrests in 2002 in Arkansas, days before he was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame. He served a week in jail and was fined $1,000, according to CNN. He also had past alcohol-related arrests in 1996 and 1997, according to media reports.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibuster

Published

on

Sinema, Manchin slammed as Senate begins voting bill debate

By LISA MASCARO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that’s a top priority for Democrats and civil rights leaders seemed headed for defeat as the Senate opened Tuesday, a devastating setback enabled by President Joe Biden’s own party as two holdout senators refuse to support rule changes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

The Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, face strong criticism from Black leaders and civil rights organizations for failing to take on what the critics call the “Jim Crow filibuster.”

The debate carries echoes of an earlier era when the Senate filibuster was deployed by opponents of civil rights legislation. It comes as Democrats and other voting advocates nationwide warn that Republican-led states are passing laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the current bill’s likely defeat this week. But he said the fight is not over as he heeds advocates’ call to force all senators to go on record with their positions.

“The eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week,” Schumer said as he opened the session Tuesday.

This is the fifth time the Senate will try to pass voting legislation this Congress.

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act combines earlier bills into one package that would make Election Day a national holiday, ensure access to early voting and mail-in ballots — which have become especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic— and enable the Justice Department to intervene in states with a history of voter interference, among other changes.

Both Manchin and Sinema say they support the package, which has passed the House, but they are unwilling to change the Senate rules to muscle it through that chamber over Republican objections. With a 50-50 split, Democrats have a narrow Senate majority — Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie — but they lack the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

Just as they blocked Biden’s broad “Build Back Better” domestic spending package, the two senators are now dashing hopes for the second major part of Biden’s presidential agenda. They are infuriating many of their colleagues and faced a barrage of criticism during Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, compared Sinema and Manchin to a white moderate his father wrote about during the civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s — a person who declared support for the goals of Black voting rights but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to passage of landmark legislation.

“History will not remember them kindly,” the younger King said, referring to Sinema and Manchin by name.

Once reluctant to change Senate rules himself, Biden used the King holiday to pressure senators to do just that. But the push from the White House, including Biden’s blistering speech last week in Atlanta comparing opponents to segregationists, is seen as too late, coming as the president ends his first year in office with his popularity sagging.

“It’s time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand,” Biden said on the King holiday. “It’s time for every American to stand up. Speak out, be heard. Where do you stand?”

The Senate is launching what could become a weeklong debate, but the outcome is expected to be no different from past failed votes on the legislation. Biden has been unable to persuade Sinema and Manchin to join other Democrats to change the rules to lower the 60-vote threshold. In fact, Sinema upstaged the president last week, reiterating her opposition to the rules changes just before Biden arrived on Capitol Hill to court senators’ votes.

Senators have been working nonstop for weeks on rule changes that could win support from Sinema and Manchin. The two, both moderates, have expressed openness to discussing the ideas, but have not given their backing.

Both Manchin and Sinema have argued that preserving the filibuster rules, requiring a 60-vote majority to pass most legislation, is important for fostering bipartisanship. They also warn of what would happen if Republicans win back majority control, as is distinctly possible this election year.

Critics have also assailed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who is leading his party against the voting legislation. The Kentucky senator has argued the legislation is a federal overreach into state-run elections, and he harshly criticized Biden’s speech last week as “unpresidential.”

“We cannot think of a time more defining to the American story than the chapter you are presently writing,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote in an open letter to the Senate.

“What country will your children and grandchildren be left with, given the relentless assaults on American freedom and democracy?”

Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon said in a statement late Monday: “Senator Manchin believes strongly that every American citizen of legal age has not only the right, but also the responsibility to vote and that right must be protected by law. He continues to work on legislation to protect this right.”

Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The voting bill was the Democrats’ top priority this Congress, and the House swiftly approved H.R. 1 only to see it languish in the Senate.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Sunny skies Tuesday with high temps in the low-50s

Published

on

Sunny skies Tuesday with high temps in the low-50s

ST. LOUIS- The city of Maryland Heights’ Economic Development Commission meets Tuesday night to discuss a number of local projects, including an update on plans to bring new restaurant life to a former Steak N’ Shake restaurant.

The restaurant, formerly located at 12607 Dorsett, was one of many Steak N’ Shake locations to close in the St. Louis area in 2019, when the company shut down more than half a dozen of them while in search of franchise partners.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending