- Associated Press - Thursday, April 10, 2014
Arbitrator: Mankato university wrong to fire coach

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - An arbitrator has found that Minnesota State University, Mankato, had no grounds to fire head football coach Todd Hoffner last May and has ordered that the university immediately reinstate him, an attorney for the coach confirmed Thursday.

Hoffner, who was recently named head coach at Minot State, is considering whether or not he will return to Mankato, said attorney Jim Fleming. Hoffner did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press, but he plans to hold a news conference Tuesday.

“He and his wife are discussing their options,” Fleming said. “I have spoken to him … he is, of course, elated with the ruling.”

Hoffner, 47, was arrested in 2012 and charged with two counts of child pornography after university staff found images of his naked children on a work-issued cellphone. His case gained national attention, coming just months after retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child sex abuse.

But a judge dismissed the charges against Hoffner three months after his arrest, saying the videos on his phone depicted only innocent images of children acting playful after a bath.


Minn. Senate passes tax bill with additional cuts

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Senate has given approval to another $101 million in tax breaks, but the array of relief differs from a House version.

Thursday’s 57-6 vote sets up final tax negotiations with House tax writers. Both chambers are led by Democrats.

The Senate bill expands a sales tax exemption for local governments to those that coordinate services across boundaries. It adds to city and county tax exemptions approved a year ago. The bill also provides tax credits for volunteer firefighters, credits for parents who hire reading tutors and assistance to counties on the front-lines of the aquatic invasive species battle.

A House bill focuses tax relief on beefing up refund programs connected to the property tax. That chamber’s bill has a similar size.

Negotiations will commence after Easter.


Minn. tax collections dip below projection

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s tax collectors took in slightly less than they were counting on in February and March, but finance officials aren’t sounding alarms.

The state drew $67 million, or 2.5 percent, less than forecasters were predicting. A budget update released Thursday by the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget says the shortage had to do with timing issues in payments they expect to come in later.

Income taxes for individuals outpaced expectations by 2.2 percent.

The report looks only at revenue and not at spending. Still, finance officials are adjusting economic growth estimates down a tad, which was partly attributed to the bad winter around the country causing disruptions and caution in the economy.

The quarterly updates aren’t used by lawmakers when setting the state budget.


‘Juno,’ ‘Crucible’ in Dowling’s last Guthrie year

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - After running the renowned Guthrie Theater for 20 years, Joe Dowling plans to revive some of his favorite plays, stage new works and produce a classic American musical as part of his final season, the theater announced Thursday.

Dowling, 65, will direct or co-direct three productions in the new season: Sean O’Casey’s “Juno and the Paycock,” Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

“I’m very happy,” Dowling said of his selections. He said the mix of plays lives up to his vision of what the three-stage complex is capable of.

The Guthrie kicks off the new season in September with “The White Snake,” an ancient Chinese fable about a serpent girl from the spirit world written and directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, and its first-ever production of Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer-winning play, “The Heidi Chronicles,” about a young woman’s coming of age from the 1960s to the ‘80s.

Dowling will return to “Juno and Paycock,” which he staged at the Gate Theatre in his hometown of Dublin in 1986. The play about a destitute Dublin family following the Irish Civil War later opened on Broadway in 1988, bringing Dowling to America and eventually to the Guthrie.



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