Your Friday News Brief: March 9

By: News Director Larissa Donovan

ST. PAUL– Local Representative Matt Bliss (R-Pennington) has drafted a bill to help ensure lawsuit settlement funds awarded to the state reach the intended target. Legal fees reportedly will take $125 million of the state’s recent $850 million ground contamination lawsuit settlement with 3M. Bliss called the lawyer bill “obscene” and said a greater share of those funds would be better used maximizing environmental cleanup efforts. Bliss has responded with a bill he said would help mitigate Minnesota taxpayers’ exposure to legal fees during future state-based lawsuits by capping them at 2 percent of an award, or $100,000, whichever is higher.

RED LAKE– Former Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain plans to run for re-election four years after being ousted from the position. Jourdain announced his bid Wednesday, saying he decided to run again about a year ago after observing what he sees as missteps by the current administration and after speaking with tribal members.  He calls himself an expert in tribal government and says if he is elected, he would stabilize leadership.

MAHNOMEN (Corrected**)– The White Earth Secretary Treasurer was censured Thursday. According to a release, the Tribal Executive Committee of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) voted five to four, with one silent vote, to censure Tara Mason. During the same meeting Thursday, White Earth Tribal Chairman Terry Tibbets was exonerated by a vote of 8-1, with one silent vote. The White Earth Reservation Business Committee now has 15 days to set a hearing date to decide how to proceed with the Secretary-Treasurer’s charges of breaking the MCT constitution.

WARREN– Polk County authorities are seeking information about an intentional fire set near Warren. According to a release, an abandoned farmhouse in Tabor Township is believed to have been intentionally set ablaze Thursday morning, and authorities are investigating the case as arson. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at (218) 281-0431 or the Minnesota Arson Hotline at (800) 723-2020.

GRAND RAPIDS– The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house to discuss historic and recent changes in Lake Winnibigoshish. The meeting will be Tuesday, March 20, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.  Lake Winnie is a destination fishery for walleye and yellow perch. Fisheries biologists will share data about changes in fish populations, and the impacts of exotic species and regulations.

DULUTH– Law enforcement authorities say 25 people are facing federal and state charges in connection with a drug ring that distributed heroin in the Duluth area. Federal prosecutors say 12 of those arrested are facing federal charges for their alleged roles in the conspiracy. A 46-count indictment against them was announced  Thursday. Prosecutors have identified the main drug distributor was 33-year-old Carlos Coleman of Apple Valley. They allege he brought the heroin from Chicago to the Twin Cities and to the Twin Ports area, where it was then distributed by others in the network. The alleged drug ring operators are making their initial court appearances this week in U-S District Court in Duluth. Prosecutors say the network operated over the last year.

** Corrected to reflect an updated press release. The original text stated:

“An official MCT notice will be sent to the White Earth Reservation Business Committee for a removal or recall election hearing to be held within 30 days upon receiving the notice about the censure of Tara Mason.”


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