- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Low-key inaugural to usher in Dayton’s 2nd term

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Mark Dayton is making another fashion statement while ushering in a second term as Minnesota governor: He’s again ditching black-tie attire in favor of blue jeans for what is shaping up as a laid-back inaugural.

Dayton spokesman Linden Zakula said Tuesday that there are only two events planned, the swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 5 and an open-to-the-public party five days later.

The agenda is more limited than Dayton’s first inaugural, which included a statewide tour and other smaller events. But like the prior inaugural, Dayton is dimming the glitz on the traditional ball by keeping the dress code relaxed. The “North Star Ball” will be held at the Union Depot in St. Paul with a cash bar and admission ranging from $15 for students to $50 for others who buy at the door. Advance tickets will be cheaper.

An inaugural committee established last week will oversee fundraising to cover event costs that aren’t recouped by admission fees. In 2011, the inaugural dinner brought in $48,780 toward the roughly $124,000 in costs that year, according to tax records filed by that inaugural committee.

The formal swearing-in will occur at noon at Landmark Center on the year’s first Monday, as is tradition. Besides Dayton, the ceremony will include the oaths of Lt. Gov.-elect Tina Smith, who is a newcomer to elective office; Attorney General Lori Swanson, who begins a third term; Secretary of State-elect Steve Simon, a longtime legislator; and Auditor Rebecca Otto, who enters her third term. All are Democrats.

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Patrol not sure why Fergus Falls councilman fled

ELBOW LAKE, Minn. (AP) - Authorities said Tuesday they don’t know why a City Council member in northwestern Minnesota led law enforcement officers on a chase that ended when he crashed into a squad car and died.

The incident began when Fergus Falls Councilman Timothy Rundquist fled a state trooper who had stopped him for speeding around 5 p.m. Monday near Elbow Lake in Otter Tail County, the State Patrol said. Other law enforcement officers used stop sticks to try to stop him, but he continued to flee another 11 miles before crashing head-on into an Ashby police squad car that was stopped on the side of the road.

State Patrol Lt. Charles Backes said Rundquist, 62, died at the scene. No officers were hurt in the crash or chase, which reached speeds of 60 to 80 mph. Backes said the Ashby police officer was outside of his car putting down stop sticks when the vehicle was struck.

He said investigators don’t know why Rundquist fled or why he crashed into the squad car. The officers pursuing him didn’t know who he was at the time, the lieutenant said.

“We don’t know any motives,” Backes said. “We really don’t want to speculate as to why.”

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St. Paul police investigate death of 6-year-old

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Police say they’re investigating the suspicious death of a 6-year-old girl in a St. Paul apartment.

St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders says officers were called to the residence just after 8 a.m. Tuesday on a report of a possible drowning. The child was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

Linders says the girl’s mother has been arrested and nobody else is being sought.

The Ramsey County medical examiner will determine the girl’s cause and manner of death.

Her name was not immediately released.

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‘Sniper’ estate to appeal Ventura defamation verdict

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The estate of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle is seeking an appeal after a federal jury ruled in favor of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in a defamation case.

Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle filed a notice of the appeal Tuesday. Ventura was awarded $1.8 million in August in the lawsuit that alleged Chris Kyle made up claims in his book about punching Ventura after he made offensive comments about Navy SEALS at a California bar in 2006. Ventura says it never happened.

Both men are former SEALs. Kyle died last year.

The notice doesn’t specify the arguments the Kyle estate will make in its appeal. Hearing dates have not been set.

A movie adaptation of the book directed by Clint Eastwood opens on Christmas and doesn’t include a bar fight.

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