- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014
Sides hone arguments in Minn. Vikings stadium case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The government authority in charge of constructing the new Minnesota Vikings stadium claimed in a legal brief filed Thursday that the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit is trying to disrupt it with “endless litigation,” and asked the state Supreme Court to shut him down.

Parties in the lawsuit over the stadium project are submitting a last flurry of briefs to Minnesota’s high court as stadium backers are ask for quick action in order to avoid obstacles that could derail an already tight construction schedule and drive up the nearly $1 billion price tag. The lawsuit has already caused a delay in a $468 million bond sale.

Plaintiff Doug Mann “appears to be a serial litigant, determined to keep asserting meritless claims until this Court, the final arbiter of Minnesota law, definitely disposes of those claims,” stated a legal memorandum from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. “Allowing Petitioners to continue to disrupt, delay and thread the Stadium Project … by endless litigation does not further justice.”

Mann, a frequent but unsuccessful candidate for office in Minneapolis, and two other plaintiffs sued late last week to block the bond sale, claiming the stadium’s funding plan is unconstitutional. The same plaintiffs were previously unsuccessful with a Hennepin County lawsuit on similar grounds, a suit they’re asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to revive.

Mann and his fellow plaintiffs argue the stadium financing arrangements were designed to circumvent a Minneapolis charter provision that would have triggered a city referendum. The stadium funding plan splits construction costs between the Vikings, state and city taxpayers.


Reward offered for info in Polk Co. hit-and-run

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) - Polk County authorities have announced a $5,000 cash reward for information leading to whoever struck and killed two men and then fled the scene.

The sheriff’s office on Thursday also provided a more detailed description of the vehicle involved in the Jan. 11 crash.

Authorities describe the vehicle as a black Ford F-150 pickup, between model year 1997 and 2003. The vehicle will have damage to the passenger side headlight assembly area.

Authorities say the victims - 41-year-old Richard Cobenais Jr., of rural Luck and 28-year-old Benjamin Juarez, of Frederic - were involved in a fight that had spilled out onto Highway E in the Round Lake Native American Community Saturday evening.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.


Auditor: Minn. law unclear on political travel

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota law isn’t clear about whether the governor can use a state-owned plane to travel to political events, a state official asked to examine the issue said in a report released Thursday.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles’ report came in response to a complaint from a Republican-aligned group that questioned whether Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton should be able to use the plane for trips that involve political events.

Between January 2011 and June 2013, Dayton used a state airplane for 55 trips. His office has acknowledged that on three of those trips, Dayton in addition to conducting state business also made time for political events.

Dayton’s re-election campaign reimbursed the state a total of $3,214, a pro-rated portion of the total cost of those trips. The auditor said that reimbursement was not required under state law, and recommended that lawmakers clarify the issue.

“If it is allowable for the Governor to use a state airplane to travel to political events, that use should also be authorized in law, and the law should expressly require reimbursement from the appropriate political organization,” Nobles wrote.


Minnesota traffic fatalities decline in 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety show the number of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads decreased slightly in 2013.

DPS’s Office of Traffic Safety says preliminary data shows there were 375 traffic fatalities in Minnesota last year. Once all the data is in, that number is projected to rise to about 385.

That’s compared with 395 traffic fatalities for 2012.

Officials say the number of traffic-related deaths have declined 34 percent since 2004, when there were 567 deaths on Minnesota roads.

Once all the reports are in, officials expect drunken driving, not using seat belts, speeding and distracted driving will be primary factors contributing to the deaths.



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