- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015
APNewsBreak: Prosecutor won’t charge hog farm workers

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A prosecutor said Friday that he has decided against charging any employees of a Minnesota hog farm who were recorded on a graphic undercover video treating animals in a way that their own employer called “disturbing.”

Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals released video in August that it shot at a Christensen Farms breeding facility in the southwestern Minnesota city of Luverne. At the time, the company, one of the country’s largest pork producers, said it had suspended seven employees and launched a full internal investigation. CEO Glenn Stolt said in a statement that it was “unacceptable that this behavior was allowed to continue, and was not brought to our attention immediately.”

Assistant Rock County Attorney Jeffrey Haubrich told The Associated Press on Friday that he won’t file the animal cruelty charges that Last Chance for Animals sought. In a letter to Sgt. Jeff Wienecke of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, which Haubrich provided to the AP, he said the videos are not admissible in court and that an outside veterinarian found nothing at the farm that could provide a basis for criminal charges.

“Our primary consideration is that there are substantial evidentiary issues with the material provided by Last Chance for Animals. The video and reports are obviously highly edited and filtered to enhance the position they are advocating and they lack the basic requirements for admissibility in court,” the prosecutor wrote. “Namely, there is a lack of foundation and no chain of custody for the main pieces of the evidence that have been presented.”

Haubrich also wrote that it appeared the veterinarian did not find any widespread problems at the farm or with people employed there. He found that the facilities and its methods were acceptable “within industry standards” and that “the animals appeared well cared for.”

___

Board of Regents approve $166 million Athletes Village

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The University of Minnesota plans to break ground next month on its $166 million Athletes Village, which will include updated practice and training facilities for football and basketball teams that officials say are necessary to keep the school competitive in the Big Ten.

A Board of Regents committee approved the project Thursday. The full board gave its unanimous final approval Friday.

“I think we as a university owe it to our student athletes,” board chairman Dean Johnson said. “We clearly have third-rate facilities. We’re not competitive at all.”

The project has been delayed for months over concerns about costs - the initial price tag was $190 million - and that it could violate gender-equity laws.

The university has raised about $76.5 million from donors. Nearly $90 million will be borrowed and repaid by the athletics department. The university usually secures 80 percent of fundraising before starting construction, but not this time. President Eric Kaler says the school wants to break ground before it freezes for the winter.

___

Minnesota adds extra $136M to coffers in 3-month period

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota budget officials said Friday the state piled up an extra $136 million during the summer, though tax collections slowed in September.

The state’s quarterly budget update covering tax collections from July through September is just the latest round of good financial news for the state. Minnesota ended its fiscal year at the end of June with an unexpected $531 million.

Despite the slowdown as fall approached, The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget’s release showed tax collections up by 3.2 percent over projections through September.

The sum could add to a stash of more than $900 million that lawmakers left to tap into for spending initiatives during next year’s legislative session. But the reports don’t look at the state’s spending patterns, and budget officials caution there can be wide swings in state revenue.

Higher income tax collections were a bulk of unexpected revenue, though budget officials expect that to drop off throughout the rest of the year. An unexpected jump in sales statewide drove sales tax collections up by $32 million over forecasts.

___

UCare to drop lawsuit against Minnesota for health contracts

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota health insurance company said Friday that it will drop its lawsuit against the state for not renewing its contracts to cover hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.

UCare sued state officials this summer after losing a competitive bid for contracts to cover residents on MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, arguing that the Department of Human Services arbitrarily cut it out. A Ramsey County District judge denied the company’s request to halt registration for those public programs as the case progressed but promised to give UCare a venue to make its case for why it should be restored. The case was scheduled for a Nov. 2 hearing.

UCare said in a statement Friday that it plans to ask the court to dismiss the case next week, citing the work ahead for the state to transition most of its 370,000 enrollees into new plans for next year.

“Now that open enrollment has begun for many Minnesota counties and the county appeals have concluded, we have decided to withdraw from litigation in the interests of allowing MinnesotaCare and PMAP enrollees to go forward with their 2016 health plan selections without further delays or confusion,” the company said.

The decision comes after state officials restored UCare’s contract to cover residents in Olmsted County, one of many counties that appealed the state’s decision not to award the Minneapolis company a contract. UCare said it will still lose about 350,000 customers and has warned that it may slash half of its business with the loss of the contracts.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide