Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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An Army veteran from Ohio says U.S. Sen. Al Franken cupped her breast in 2003. Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN about a USO tour photo opportunity in Kuwait in which she said the Minnesota Democrat reached around her and touched her breast. She is the fifth woman to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct.
The deck is stacked against the development of housing for the workforce in greater Minnesota. Private developers prefer to build in the Twin Cities and other large communities. They see higher risks in greater Minnesota, largely because many of the areas short of housing rely on one or two major employers. If one closes to cuts back, it may be hard or impossible to collect enough rent to make a profit.
PERHAM, Minn.—More than 70 percent of people who work in Perham commute to the picturesque community of 3,000. If affordable housing were available in town, more workers in the community's factories could live close. But as it stands, booming Perham is one of Minnesota's most often used examples of the lack of workforce housing. "Perham is sort of the little engine that could," state Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal said. "Jobs just keep coming."
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—Businesses in communities short of housing commonly donate money to build apartments, or help employees buy homes, but a central Minnesota meatpacker bought an entire apartment building to shelter some of its new employees. Long Prairie Packing, part of the Wisconsin-based American Foods Group, bought an old apartment building in Alexandria three years ago mostly for new workers. "We can bring people to the area, get them settled in their jobs," American Foods' President Steven Van Lannen said.
ST. PAUL — The story is that greater Minnesota loses population because there are not enough jobs. However, many greater Minnesota communities actually have plenty of jobs, leaving areas short of housing for workers that businesses and industries need. Some industries have resorted to busing in workers and some have helped finance housing in an effort to attract workers. It is a story most Minnesotans do not know, but one that keeps city and business leaders awake at night. Some experts guess that up to 7,500 new homes are needed, but no one really knows.
ST. PAUL -- A former Minnesota woman says U.S. Sen. Al Franken grabbed her buttocks while her husband was taking their photo at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Lindsay Menz, who now lives in Texas, said on Twitter: "In August 2010, @alfranken grabbed me while taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair. I felt violated & embarrassed." Tweeting to radio host Leeann Tweeden, she added: "I 100% believe your account of him & his actions, ... Thank you for sharing your story."
ST. PAUL — The Mille Lacs Indian Reservation is becoming a haven for drug dealers and other criminals, band members say. "People now show up on our reservation because they believe it is a police-free zone," band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin told about 100 at a Minnesota State Capitol Rally Monday, Nov. 20. Mille Lacs County and the band disagree whether tribal police should have jurisdiction on most of the reservation. In June of 2016, the county ended a police cooperation agreement with the band, an action Benjamin and other band supporters want reversed.
ST. PAUL — Former women staffers of U.S. Sen. Al Franken said he treated them well, the woman who accused him of sexual harassment does not think he should resign and some of his long-time supporters are struggling with accepting of his actions. The Democratic Minnesota senator remained out of the public eye Friday, Nov. 17, and released no statements the day after a Los Angeles radio host accused him of forcibly kissing her during a show rehearsal and having his picture taken looking like he is groping her breasts while she slept at the end of a USO tour.
ST. PAUL — Criticizing sexual harassment is easy, but coming up with a solution is tough. "If women could fix the problem on their own, it would have been done already," Lucy Kennedy of West St. Paul said Friday, Nov. 17 as about 100 people gathered at a Minnesota Capitol rally against sexual harassment. "There just aren't enough women elected," she told Forum News Service, and a culture remains that allows men to deal with women inappropriately.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota is far from the only state in which legislators stand accused of sexual harassment. Reports have surfaced in states coast to coast about women lawmakers, legislative staffers and lobbyists saying they have been harassed. Stateline.org reports that women in at least 16 states have made the allegations: Minnesota, South Dakota, California, Illinois, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington