Minnesota Now - August 3, 2022

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MPR News host Cathy Wurzer
MPR

Candidates for Hennepin County Attorney make their case, chief meteorologist Paul Huttner has a detailed forecast and the Mall of America turns 30 this year! We'll take a look back.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] (SINGING) 1, 2, 3, 4.

CATHY WURZER: It's Minnesota Now. I'm Cathy Mercer. Nurses in the Minnesota Nurses Association say working conditions in hospitals statewide are bringing them to the breaking point. We'll find out what's going on.

Our meteorologist Paul Huttner is here with a storm round-up and a detailed look at our weather just ahead.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Seven candidates are vying for the job of Hennepin County Attorney. How will they handle police public safety and child protection? We're talking to each one of them this week.

And the Mall of America turns 30 this year. How is it 30? It was actually a pretty long slog to get the thing built. We'll hear the story from someone who's been involved from the very beginning, all that plus the Minnesota Music Minute.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

And it's coming up right after the news.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Live from MPR News in Washington, I'm Lakshmi Singh. President Biden is expected to signed an executive order today that would help people cross state lines to have an abortion. MPR's Windsor Johnston reports this will be the president's second executive action to safeguard access to the procedure in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision, overturning Roe versus Wade.

WINDSOR JOHNSTON: The executive order doesn't detail how this could be achieved but directs the Department of Health and Human Services to consider ways to expand coverage for patients who are forced to travel out of state to have an abortion. It also asked the department to consider all appropriate actions to ensure that health care providers comply with federal nondiscrimination laws. President Biden signed an executive order last month that ensures access to FDA-approved abortion pills and emergency contraception.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion is mostly prohibited in eight states, with bans and restrictions being legally challenged in several others. Windsor Johnston, NPR News, Washington.

LAKSHMI SINGH: The president is still doing his work while in isolation. His doctor says Biden is still testing positive for the coronavirus. NPR's Franco Ordoñez reports the 79-year-old is said to be feeling well but is still dealing with a lingering cough.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: Dr. Kevin O'Connor writes that President Biden remains fever-free and is in good spirits. He examined Biden after the president finished a light workout today, which the doctor pointed out Biden enjoyed. O'Connor adds that the president's temperature and blood pressure remain normal and that his lungs are clear.

Biden is continuing to work in isolation from the executive residence, where he has been hosting virtual meetings and delivering remarks. Franco Ordoñez, NPR News, the White House.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Now to Ukraine, where the army is continuing to press its offensive around the Southern city of Kherson near the Black Sea, a new report from Britain's Defense Ministry says Russian troops defending the city are increasingly isolated. Here's NPR's Brian Mann.

BRIAN MANN: Using high-tech long-range artillery provided by the West, Ukraine has succeeded in damaging a key rail link into Kherson which Russia used to supply its occupying troops. British officials say it's likely Russia will repair the bridge, but their intelligence report found Ukrainian forces are pressuring other key bridges and supply routes, making it harder for Moscow to transport ammunition, food, and other equipment across the Dnipro River.

Ukrainian officials have said they hope to retake the city by September. According to Britain's Defense Ministry, quote, "We will likely see an increase in civilians attempting to flee Kherson and the surrounding area as hostilities continue and food shortages worsen." Brian Mann, NPR News, Kyiv.

LAKSHMI SINGH: On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial average is up 436 points, 1.3% at 32,831. It's NPR.

MAN: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations. Other contributors include National Geographic Expeditions, trips with NAT Geo experts to more than 80 worldwide destinations, including safaris, cruises, and train journeys-- natgeoexpeditions.com/explorer.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

CATHY WURZER: Around Minnesota right now, skies are apparently mostly sunny, a much more comfortable day today after yesterday's sauna-like weather. Highs today upper 60s to the mid-70s in the North, 80s in the South.

At noon in Worthington is 80. It's 82 in Painesville. And outside the Lockport store in Lutsen, it's sunny and 60. I'm Cathy Wowzer with Minnesota News Headlines.

Xcel Energy crews are still working to restore power to customers after last night's storms. Xcel reports more than 60,000 customers were without power at the height of the storms. That number has since dropped to about 17,000.

Fierce winds of 60 to 70 miles an hour blew down some trees and power lines. There was an 81-mile an hour gust near Hector in Renville County.

The Hennepin County Board has voted to no longer stream public comments online. Board meetings are live streamed and so are public comment sessions during those meetings. But some members of the board said those comments have included too much misinformation, and they said it would be better to not live-stream them.

The changes allow for people to comment for up to two minutes at meetings either in-person or by submitting comments online. But after yesterday, those comments will no longer be live streamed. Board Member Chris LaTondresse opposed the change, saying it goes against government transparency.

CHRIS LATONDRESSE: It creates a barrier between those who, for whatever reason, work transportation barriers. Other considerations can't come to listen to and participate in our meetings in public. And I don't think that the board should take actions that basically divide residents into those who can come into this public space and those who cannot.

CATHY WURZER: The change was approved by a 5 to 2 vote.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Leading our program, unionized nurses at 7:00, Minnesota hospitals are issuing votes of no confidence in their hospital leadership. No confidence votes were taken at several health care providers, including Fairview Health Services, Children's Minnesota, North Memorial Health, and St Luke's in Duluth.

Negotiators for the Minnesota Nurses Association are in contract talks which are moving slowly at several hospitals representing some 15,000 nurses. Mary Turner is president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. Mary is also an ICU nurse at North Memorial in the Twin Cities.

Welcome back to the program, Mary. How are you?

MARY TURNER: I am just fine. Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Thanks for being here. So the votes of no confidence come as the MNA is engaged in contract talks. No confidence votes are largely symbolic. What's the message you're trying to send?

MARY TURNER: The message we're trying to send is that we at this point have no confidence in our CEOs and the other executives to properly address our understaffing. Nurses are overworked, and patients are overcharged.

And this isn't a new issue. We've been dealing with staffing issues for years. We even tried recently at the legislature to solve that with the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.

And the reason it's so imperative now that we correct the situation is there was a recent study done out of the University of Illinois that had surveyed nurses. And it's very alarming what they came up with, that potentially half of the nurses across the country could leave the bedside by next year.

CATHY WURZER: I saw that study.

MARY TURNER: Yeah. And their number one reason is short staffing and unresponsive management. And that is exactly what we're getting at the table is unresponsive management.

CATHY WURZER: Tell me about staffing, specifically since the pandemic has begun, and of course, it continues obviously. How many nurses have left the profession in Minnesota?

MARY TURNER: How many-- well, I know we can go by, we used to 22,000. And now we're down to 20,000.

CATHY WURZER: In your membership, MNA's membership.

MARY TURNER: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and that's what we are able to keep track of. But I know that my floor after the pandemic. And I don't blame any one of them.

I mean, I was on the floor that was there at the very beginning. And we had like 40% of our nurses left our floor, some to leave the hospital. Some retired. Some just moved to other opportunities.

And many of them went to traveling. And the reason they did, the big reason is work-life balance.

CATHY WURZER: And you can make a lot of money that way.

MARY TURNER: A schedule that-- and you can make a lot of money. But there was many that left because of work-life balance because you can kind of call your own schedule basically.

CATHY WURZER: You mentioned staffing, Mary Turner. And I'm wondering today, as you know, the State Department of Health released this new report saying that hospitals are now seeing patients who are experiencing pretty serious health conditions, longer hospital stays. Preventable hospital errors jumped during the pandemic. What happened? Is that because of staffing?

MARY TURNER: Totally. Totally. It was-- you can look at this, and I just finished reading that myself. And you could look at it and go, oh, the nurses aren't working hard enough or whatever.

But the reality is during the pandemic, our workload increased like 10 times. Just the very act of having to get into all of your personal protective equipment before you go into each and every room was so time consuming. And these patients that were laying on their stomach, which is where a lot of the sores came from, just being on your face for days and days and days, extremely hard work and needing so many people.

When they first started doing it at the beginning of the pandemic, we would have seven people just to turn somebody over. By the later on into the pandemic, we were lucky to get three or four people. And that three or four people because people are leaving. People are leaving the bedside. They couldn't take it.

CATHY WURZER: And are you proposing more money to keep people at the bedside, more incentives to keep folks at the bedside?

MARY TURNER: Yeah, I mean, I'd-- thank you for letting me address that. You make it sound-- we say, I think, we're around 30%. And by no means, is that where we're going to stay? How you start high and they start low kind of thing.

But our proposal is if we had-- if they would loosen up and allow us some scheduling proposals to go through, and a proposal that would increase our sick leave balance because a lot of us have totally drained it dry during the pandemic with having to quarantine and things like that. So that, we consider part of the economic package, differentials that haven't changed in decades.

And then the fact is we're going to have to-- you know that Minnesota used to be in the top five, I believe, for wages for nurses. Now, we're not even in the top 10.

CATHY WURZER: We should say--

MARY TURNER: Which I find shocking.

CATHY WURZER: And you mentioned that the nurses are asking for a 30% increase in wages over this next contract. And the hospital systems, we reached out to them, and they sent us a statement saying that your request is unrealistic and unaffordable and not very wise, given what's happening in the health care systems across the country. But as you say, that's your opening Salvo in this negotiation. You'll probably get something in the middle?

MARY TURNER: Correct because that's how it works. Plus, it's the whole economic package when it gets reported everywhere. Like right now, they're at 10 and 1/2%, and they have said time and time again, this is the whole economic package, meaning if we want any other benefits, like differentials increased, it would come out of that 10.5%.

And the same goes for that 30%. Say we want more sick leave, it would come out of that. It's the whole economic package.

But here's the thing. We still have to address the issues that 50% of the nurses across the nation could leave the bedside as of next year. That is a public health crisis. And yeah.

CATHY WURZER: I am wondering, do you think, given what you know, what are the chances of a nurse strike before fall?

MARY TURNER: It is definitely on the table. It is definitely on the table. And all I can say is stay tuned because the nurses-- I don't go a day-- I go at work, and it's when are we striking? When are we striking?

That's it, Mary. We can't take it anymore. They're furious that nothing is of any consequence is happening at the table. They don't seem to be hearing our pleas. And like I said, unresponsive management is driving the nurses to do the actions that we're doing.

CATHY WURZER: I want to ask you about responsiveness in this light. Now last week, a group of nurses at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Mankato voted to leave your organization. Nurses at the Mayo Hospital in St. James voted to decertify their union, which is an F. Smith Chapter. And there's this decertification effort taking place at the Brainerd Hospital.

Now, that's being led by what's been described as an anti-union group. And I'm wondering, though is nurse frustration over the pandemic reflected in these decertification votes? Do nurses look around and say, OK, look what happened at the height of the pandemic. Where was my union? Is that some of the frustration coming out on the opposite end of that?

MARY TURNER: Yeah, well, the National Right to Work Foundation who is behind all that and which is backed by billionaires, they are really good about what we would call third-party in the union. And it is so easy to just blame the closest to you for things.

Now, do we do everything perfectly in our union? Nobody's perfect. But I will say that in Mankato, 70 years, they had a union down there. And what that means in a nursing contract is you have 70 years of nurses having an equal seat at the table to advocate for their patients, to advocate for safe staffing. They don't have that anymore.

I am not only concerned for all these hospitals if their union that are decertifying. I'm not only concerned about the nurses working there. I'm not concerned about the community and the patients they serve because it makes a huge difference when nurses can go toe to toe with the management to at least have the ability to try to fight for better, safer staffing.

CATHY WURZER: Before you go, Mary--

MARY TURNER: [INAUDIBLE].

CATHY WURZER: Before you go, Mary Turner, are talks continuing between you and the hospitals in terms of a contract?

MARY TURNER: Yes, they are.

CATHY WURZER: OK.

MARY TURNER: And they will continue. And if we should get to where we're taking a strike vote or something and whatever, we will continue throughout because nurses don't want to be on the sidewalk. We don't live for this. It takes a lot, a lot to push the nurses out to the sidewalk.

Well, we're starting to be on the sidewalk. We're there yesterday, and that should tell the public something.

CATHY WURZER: All right, Mary Turner, thank you for your time today.

MARY TURNER: Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Mary Turner is the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. She's also an ICU nurse at North Memorial. I mentioned that we reached out to the Minnesota Hospital Association to talk about this. They did not make someone available for the show but passed along a statement saying, "In part, we strongly urge the MNA to immediately come to the table to negotiate so that our nurses can return to focus on what matters most, our patients."

[MUSIC - SEVEN STEPS TO HAVANA]

It's the Minnesota Music Minute, and this is the [? "Dea ?] Tropical" from Seven Steps to Havana, having members from North America, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Africa. Seven Steps to Havana brings an international sound to Minnesota and has set the stage for many other Latin, jazz, and salsa groups to spread the richness of the music across the state.

[NON-ENGLISH SINGING]

12:17 here in Minnesota now from MPR News. A little tired here today, are you? I am. Storms woke me up, and I get up early, anyway.

But yeah, they came blowing through about midnight, 1:30, 2 o'clock in the morning, packing some pretty decent winds, 81 mile an hour gusts near Hector, which is in Renville County, 6 to 7 miles an hour in Bloomington just after midnight. And yes, that did some damage.

Joining us right now with more on the weather is our meteorologist, Chief Meteorologist Paul Huttner. Hey, Paul.

PAUL HUTTNER: Hey, Cathy. Yeah, I'm a little tired, too. I was up watching babysitting the radar as those came through with a little midnight thunder.

CATHY WURZER: I noticed that you posted on Twitter that it was near continuous lightning.

PAUL HUTTNER: Oh, incredible lightning. And that happens when you get these cells that fire on that deep humidity and heat that we get in the middle of summer. Cathy, I watched that line blow up in Eastern South Dakota come through Southern Minnesota.

You mentioned the 81-mile an hour gust in Hector, near Hector. Hutchinson got hit really hard, 67-mile an hour winds at least and trees down all over town. Also, saw some trees down in Norwood, Young America, Vance Heights. As you mentioned, that gusts to 67 in Bloomington and the Twin Cities. So that was just an incredible storm that came through last night.

CATHY WURZER: It's a little quieter here today, which is nice. So let's talk a little bit about some other issues before we head into the forecast here. With the rain we received last night, did that help when it came to the drought?

PAUL HUTTNER: I don't think it was enough to put a major dent in the drought, Cathy. Most of Southern Minnesota received about a 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch. Northern Minnesota, a couple of places got more than an inch. But they've been pretty wet up there.

Overall, though it's interesting because the corn crop is doing pretty good, 63% good to excellent, soybeans, 66% good to excellent around Minnesota, 82% a wheat is good to excellent. So the overall crop picture because the soils were so charged earlier this spring is pretty good. But there are dry pockets, where some farmers, some fields are really suffering and hoping they get some more rain here quickly.

CATHY WURZER: The place to go to cool it off, of course, when it was really hot yesterday and actually, well, any time when it's really hot is the North Shore, as you know.

PAUL HUTTNER: Yeah.

CATHY WURZER: And I have to say, my friends around the Two Harbors area, they attempted to go swimming, wasn't a good idea, wasn't a good idea.

PAUL HUTTNER: Oh, my.

CATHY WURZER: No.

PAUL HUTTNER: Yeah, and I talked to Jay Austin, who's with the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He points out that one of their Western buoys just was at 39 degrees Fahrenheit for water temperature last week. And that's the latest it's ever been that way in 42 years.

It's also 25 degrees colder than it was last year at this time. And some of the surface waters on the North Shore did get close to 70 a couple of weeks ago and then plummeted down to 39.

There's a reason for that. It's called upwelling. When we get a persistent westerly wind or an offshore wind, it blows that warmer surface water further out into the lake. And then water from the depths wells up near the shore, comes up from below. That water is 39 degrees because one of the properties of water is it's heaviest, it's densest at 39 degrees. So that settles to the bottom of the lake.

Jay thinks there might be other reasons, too. He's looking at the residual cold from last winter. They're pulling some buoys this week that might give them more data. And I have to believe, Cathy, that the record snow melt that we had this spring pumped so much cold water into that lake that that might be a factor, too, so very interesting trends with water temperatures on Lake Superior this summer.

CATHY WURZER: Meanwhile, if you go to an inland lake, they're pretty darn warm.

PAUL HUTTNER: Lovely. We're near peak swimming level for the summer. Lake Minnetonka, it's 78 degrees in the last few days. Potato Lake near Park Rapids is about 75. Platte Lakes in Crow Wing County, Brainerd Lakes area, 73, but Vermilion up around Tower still a little brisk according to my weather spies on MPR Weather on Twitter, 69 degrees. So safe swimming usually around 70, Cathy, so it's still a little brisk up on Lake Vermilion.

CATHY WURZER: Yeah. So let's talk about signs of more heat possible here going into the weekend. So we might want to go swimming?

PAUL HUTTNER: You might, and nice today though, a fresh summer cool front Northwest breeze at 87 in the Twin Cities. Now that dew point down to 53. So it's down 20 degrees. That's why it feels so comfortable compared to yesterday.

So we're going to hang out about where we are today, upper 80s, tomorrow, 85 and sunny. Friday looks warm, 92 sunshine. This weekend, 80s. A chance of showers and thunderstorms on Saturday, maybe lingering into Sunday.

But, Cathy, some of the models saying we could hit 90 again next week. Europeans saying maybe close to 90 GFS in the 90s. So we've had 15 90-degree days so far. 13 is average. We're already past that.

CATHY WURZER: I wonder how many we're going to rack up at the end of the summer.

PAUL HUTTNER: I figure we're good maybe for another one next week or two. And then you know the state fair, we usually get one or two, right?

CATHY WURZER: Right. Yes, we do. And usually, the both of us are out there sweating through it.

PAUL HUTTNER: Absolutely.

CATHY WURZER: All right, Paul. Thanks. It's been a pleasure.

PAUL HUTTNER: Thanks, Cathy. My pleasure.

CATHY WURZER: Paul Huttner is MPR's chief meteorologist. You can listen to him later this afternoon on All Things Considered. He also does the Updraft Blog and the Climate Cast.

WOMAN: Programming supported by NewGate School, providing automotive training for underserved young adults in our community. This spring, why not donate a used vehicle to NewGate School. They get good jobs, and you get a tax deduction. Do something good.

CATHY WURZER: 12:22. Let's get a news update from Emily Bright. Emily.

EMILY BRIGHT: Hi, Cathy. I have some international headlines for you. US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has left Taiwan after a visit that drew threats from China. She says she and other members of Congress in her delegation showed they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments. Pelosi met with Taiwanese leaders on Wednesday.

Beijing announced military exercises, including live fire exercises in the waters and skies surrounding Taiwan after her arrival. Experts warn that using live fire in a country's territorial airspace or waters could be seen as an act of war.

The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain as well and waiting permission to leave. But there was no word yet on when they could depart.

A July 22 deal involving Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea. World food prices have been soaring, and the war has blocked exports from Ukraine, which is a major global grain supplier.

Near-record amounts of seaweed are smothering Caribbean coasts from Puerto Rico to Barbados, killing fish and other wildlife and choking tourism. Scientists say the possible explanations include a rise in water temperatures as a result of climate change and nitrogen laden fertilizer and sewage nourishing the algae.

Kansas voters have sent a resounding message about their decision to protect abortion rights by rejecting a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to tighten abortion restrictions or ban the procedure outright. The vote yesterday in a conservative state was the first test of voters feelings about abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in late June.

We'll have more news at 1:00 here on MPR News.

CATHY WURZER: For the first time in 24 years, voters in Hennepin County will choose a new County attorney. That person holds a key job. The county attorney's office oversees adult and juvenile criminal cases, child protection cases, and defends the county and other legal matters. The office has a $65 million budget and a staff of about 460.

There are a record seven candidates running for that office, and we're talking to every one of them before the August 9 primary. Today, Jarvis Jones joins us. Mr. Jones is an attorney who lives in Edina. He's on the line. Thanks for joining us.

JARVIS JONES: Thank you for having me.

CATHY WURZER: Now, Mr. Jones, after a 30-year career as a lawyer mainly in corporate and business settings, I know you have executive management expertise. What experience with public safety and criminal law do you bring to the job?

JARVIS JONES: That is not as you correctly noted. That is not my background. And many of my-- the folks running against me, they've been practicing in the criminal law area for 20, 30, 40 years.

But I'll suggest to your audience one simple question-- are we happy with the way things are today? Has anything changed in the last 20, 40 years?

And if you think they have, they have not as far as Safe Streets, which my candidacy is about-- Safe Streets in all neighborhoods, including Minneapolis. It's about treating people fairly and with dignity in all neighborhoods, including Minneapolis. And the third leg of my campaign is that we need to reform the criminal justice system and reduce the mass footprint or the footprint of mass incarceration.

So what do you bring to the table, Jarvis, is what I hear. I've always been one to make cultural changes. We need to make cultural, systemic, and organizational changes. A change agent, that's something I do.

I'm also a bridge builder to make fundamental to reach out to people of color and the broader community, not people of color to bring us together so we can start resolving some of the problems. And so as a change agent bridge builder, that's what I bring. We need someone from outside the system.

The folks inside the system-- politicians, judges who call balls and strikes, and we don't need a second public defender. We already have a public defender. So I bring fresh eyes, someone willing to make the changes necessary.

CATHY WURZER: Mr. Jones, you mentioned Safe Streets as being one of the tenets of your campaign. And in an interview with the Sahan Journal, you said, "There are some folks who say lock them up. That's not the solution. Some people believe in spending more money. That's not the solution."

Now, you described yourself as a change agent. What are the changes needed to battle rising crime if not a blend of those two solutions?

JARVIS JONES: I am misquoted there. I said locking them up alone is not going to resolve it. I said spending money alone is not going to resolve it. That's what completely I said. Both have a place, both.

There will be no one as far as locking up. I don't say lock-up. As an African-American, we here locked him up. We know historically and presently that means locking up disproportionately African-American men and women for the same crime committed by people who have less pigment in their skin or less melanin in their skin.

I'm for spending money, but that's not going to resolve it. We spend lots of money locking people up and lots of money on social programs. This is how we need to do both, lock folks up. One of my pledges is, we're going to take back our streets, our neighborhoods, and the downtown area. And at the same time, we're going to treat people with dignity and respect.

How we get there, though, is we need someone who could be in those troubled communities, diverse and troubled communities. And we do need someone who looked like them to rebuild that trust in those communities. Prosecutor-- I grew up in Chicago. It's a false belief if we think we're just going to spend our way out of this alone or lock everyone up. We need someone who's going to live in that community on a weekly basis.

My first [INAUDIBLE] is going to be a community engagement liaison to work in these communities. I'm going to be in these communities on a weekly basis. My first three, six months, I'm doing a listening tour in all of these community, all community.

CATHY WURZER: Let's talk about the young folks who are involved in the criminal justice system. Now, I know you've said you feel that young people under 18 are being over criminalized for minor offenses. But shouldn't actions have consequences because small offenses can turn into more serious ones?

JARVIS JONES: My position on young people is this, is pretty straightforward. What I said is we over criminalize for non-violent, low-level, minor offenses, marijuana, for example. We over criminalize the homeless, people with addictions, mental health.

This is my message. You read [? it? ?] You look at different things I said out there is very clear.

One, I don't believe we put everyone, these 14, 12-year-old, we treat them like adults. Their minds are still developing. However, the juvenile system is outdated.

For many of these young people, they believe it's a day camp. And they're told that by certain people who abuse them. We should have stiffer sentences for those who use our young people to commit crime.

And for the young people who decide to commit violent crimes, carjacking, even I consider assault as a serious risk. Someone gets beat up, I consider it [? hurt. ?] It's assault. We need to reform the juvenile system where they don't just get out after 18 or when they reach a certain age. Not that they stay in the juvenile system, but their record isn't clear unless they've shown they're going to be accountable going forward, whether that's a year or two.

So I'm going to work with the key stakeholders, including the politicians to reform the justice system, so it's not day camp, and they have more accountability for violent offenses, not for nonviolent offenses. I believe in diversion, more diversion programs for the youth.

CATHY WURZER: Let me ask you about something, of course, that's been quite controversial recently in the Hennepin County, Attorney's Office actually, more than recently, the past few years. Of course, I'm talking about police shootings of civilians.

Mike Freeman got away from using grand juries as he looked at officer-involved shootings. How do you deal with police-involved shootings if you're Hennepin county attorney?

JARVIS JONES: OK, two, three messages-- I'll try to be more succinct. I'm not a politician. I don't have 15 seconds down [INAUDIBLE]. One, I'm in step one. I think overwhelmingly the majority of police officers want to do a good job, keep us safe, and go home safely to their family.

My brother's sister are the first generation Chicago Police Officers in the inner city where I grew up. So I have great respect for police officers. But the older one, we call it 90%, 95%, 98%. The problem with the police department is a cultural problem. It starts at the top, not just these officers.

There's a mentality that allows the bad police officers, let's say, 5%, 10%, 2%-- I don't care-- to violate their responsibility. And the other 95% police officers on the street, there's something called don't snitch. Well, a police officer has the same mentality. It's called the Blue wall. So that's one problem.

So what am I going to do? I'm putting in place a internal independent investigation unit of senior attorneys who are managing line attorneys. These senior attorneys, we're going to investigate anyone acting under the color law who violate their oath to the Hennepin County residents. That includes law enforcement. That includes prosecutors. That include public defenders or judiciary who there's credible evidence to show they did not follow their oath.

So one, I'm going to hold them accountable. I don't think anyone should be above the law. But again, I want to say overwhelming majority of them, I think, do try to do a good job for us. So that's one thing I'm going to do. I'm going to put in this independent investigation unit to investigate not just law enforcement but anyone acting under the color law and criminal justice system.

Secondly, I want to make sure I get your second question with grand jury. I think that's a cop out. We will not be-- I think there's a few cops outs. I know Keith Ellison well, good man.

We will not be referring cases to Keith Ellison. That's my job to take their arrows and slings from the community. When I rule in favor of police officer, you always make someone happy.

So I don't even believe we should be using the grand jury for misconduct by police. We don't need a special grand jury to look at the Chauvin that other cases determine if the police violate the law. And so I will not be using the grand jury.

Also, I'm going to stop the practice of keeping people of color off these juries because of the pigment in their skin. The prosecutors in my office are going to have-- they have a reason for taking people of color off the jury other than the color of their skin. If they've got a reasonable basis, they can explain it. Then they deal with me, but they're going to have to have an explanation.

CATHY WURZER: At the beginning of our conversation, we talked a little bit about your legal experience. So I'm going to finish our conversation with this question. Why do you want this job?

JARVIS JONES: I've been a bridge builder all my life in the legal community, but it's been on the civic side. I was twice elected president of the Minnesota Minority Lawyers Association. I became the first African-American president of the Hennepin County Bar Association. I became the first and only present to this day of the Minnesota State Bar Association of 28,000 lawyers.

I'm doing it because I'm tired of reading headlines about our streets are unsafe. I'm tired of reading headlines the human rights department comes out with rampant, racial disparity and people acting like these politicians, these judges, people in the criminal justice system talking about a lot of people who I'm running to get their shot. They're surprised.

I've been hearing about the same issue for 30 years. And what my message is to your audience, don't expect something different by electing criminal insiders, people who've been in the system for 20 or 30 years. We need someone who's going to come in with fresh eyes and willing to make fundamental changes and work with all the key stakeholders, law enforcement, the public defender's office, the judges, and probation officer, and bring people together.

And if you go to jarvisjones.hennepin.com, look on the highlights on my website. You'll see I've been doing that for 30 years. Now, we're going to make some change on the criminal side.

CATHY WURZER: Well, I tell you what, Mr. Jones, it's been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much.

JARVIS JONES: And thank you for this opportunity. And I really do appreciate it.

CATHY WURZER: That was Jarvis Jones, a candidate for Hennepin County Attorney. As you heard in our interview, Jones said he was misquoted a few times. You can go to sahanjournal.com and read what he had to say there. Early voting in this race is happening right now.

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WOMAN: Support comes from GS Motors, a locally owned dealership specializing in pre-owned electric vehicles, working to make electric car ownership more accessible for a more sustainable future. EV home charging made easy, powered by Xcel Energy, gsmotors.us.

CATHY WURZER: We're talking to all the Hennepin County Attorney candidates this week. It's an important job in the state's most populous county, and the primary is next Tuesday, August the 9th.

Joining us right now is another candidate. Saraswati Singh is a prosecutor in Ramsey County's Attorney's Office. Saraswati is with us on the line. Good afternoon.

SARASWATI SINGH: Good afternoon, Cathy. It's so exciting to be here with you.

CATHY WURZER: I'm glad you're here. Thank you. I'm curious as to why you want the job as Hennepin County Attorney.

SARASWATI SINGH: For many reasons-- I care. I love it here, and I know we have problems like many places. But I think we can make a lot of changes.

And if you want to get to the heart of it, why this job? My grandfather came to this country, and he worked at the UN. And even though he had that high position, there was the white water fountain and the colored water fountain. And he had to drink from the colored water fountain.

And then with my dad, after 9/11, one day, he was coming home from work. He worked the night shift. Someone called the police on him saying he was a terrorist, and the officers let him go because being Brown and having facial hair doesn't make you a terrorist.

And then there's me. When I was nine years old, I had those toy water guns that you get from the 99 Cent Store. I don't know if they still sell them. And I'd love squirting my siblings-- I'm the oldest of four-- on hot summer days like this.

And one day, my parents sat me down and said I wasn't allowed to play with them anymore because a nine-year-old kid, same age as me, had been shot and killed by a police officer for playing with a toy water gun, a colorful water gun.

And so I'm running because I want to feel safe. I want to feel like the criminal justice system cares about me. And at the same time, I want police accountability. I don't want all these folks being killed and murdered that shouldn't be. I want police to have to get good training and more.

CATHY WURZER: It sounds then that you believe a path to public safety is racial equity and vise versa in a sense.

SARASWATI SINGH: My priorities are public safety, police accountability, and racial equity, and all three at the same time because I don't believe you can have safety or justice [AUDIO OUT].

CATHY WURZER: Oh, goodness. And this happened yesterday. We apologize. This is a technical glitch that we have in our system. This happens every so often, so very sorry.

On the line with me has been Saraswati Singh. Saraswati Singh is running for Hennepin County Attorney, one of seven candidates in the race. She's a prosecutor in the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. Do we have Ms. Singh with us?

I'm so sorry. Thanks for hanging with us here with this technical problem that we have. You were explaining please about racial equity, police accountability, and continue.

SARASWATI SINGH: Sure, thank you. So my priorities are public safety, police accountability, and racial equity, and all three at the same time because I don't think you can have safety or justice without addressing all three. And frankly, all three go hand-in-hand.

So when I'm Hennepin county attorney, I plan on moving prosecutors over from the drug unit over to the violent crime unit because we have a violent crime issue. It's been rising within the last couple of years during the pandemic, and we're still charging low-level cases, including marijuana, at the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

And what is important about drugs? We have some of the highest racial disparities in the system with low-level drug cases. And it's not because people of color use drugs at a higher rate. It's just the opposite.

And so you can make policies that address all three at the same time. And with-- oh, go ahead.

CATHY WURZER: I'm curious about going back to police accountability for just a moment. How will you hold police accountable?

SARASWATI SINGH: Sure. Multiple ways-- one is obviously prosecuting when a crime is committed. But frankly, I don't want things to get to that level.

And so one of the things that I'd like to do is embed a Hennepin county attorney prosecutor with the Minneapolis Police Department. We actually just started doing that with sexual assault cases because as many people know, we weren't very good at prosecuting sexual assault cases. And having a prosecutor embedded in the police department, we started teaching officers to make sure they collected certain evidence right away, learning how to talk with folks, the people that are actually responding, collecting the evidence that actually exists. So we're more likely to charge and have the evidence needed to get a conviction of the perpetrator.

And so having a prosecutor who has the experience regarding excessive force, what the law is, where the law is going, and what the standard-- what we expect people to-- what we expect officers to do, I just think it's so important because I've been concerned about some of the training the Minneapolis Police Department has been receiving. And other police departments have received much better training. There's no good reason to not have that same training for the Minneapolis Police Department.

CATHY WURZER: You mentioned, we have a violent crime problem, and statistics show that that is true. There's been a lot of attention on juvenile offenders because of the increase in carjackings and other crimes committed by young people.

When it comes to juveniles, you've said this specifically, "Criminal law treats juveniles differently than adults and rightfully so in part because of their brain development. I will not re-implement a quota for juvenile jails. I will prioritize keeping kids out of custody and in a manner that benefits them and does not risk public safety."

But as you know, as a prosecutor, there are some young kids out there who are pretty dangerous. So how would you like to deal with young people under the age of 18 who commit crimes?

SARASWATI SINGH: Yeah, that's an excellent question. So I handle carjacking, murders, sexual assaults, everything in between with adults. With juveniles, there's a wide range of cases, and carjackings are very serious. They're different from regular auto thefts, which are not good.

But a carjacking is when a juvenile-- in a juvenile case, is when a juvenile shows up with a gun and points it at an individual or uses it in some way to commit the crime. That's far more dangerous. You can't ignore it at all, and you have to hold people accountable.

And so that piece where I said do it in a-- I will prioritize keeping kids out of jail but with keeping public safety in mind, I will put kids in prison or jail if they need it. And carjacking cases are cases where you may have to do it more often because you can't ignore the situation. And guns are very serious, and you don't want it to get out of hand, even more so, turning into someone shooting and murdering someone in the middle of a carjacking.

CATHY WURZER: We've talked to several of the individuals you're running against for Hennepin county attorney. And almost all of them to this point have said that something does need to be done to reform the juvenile justice system. And they look to re-implementing the Hennepin County Home School or and St. Paul, as you know, totem town closed.

What about those places for kids? Do you see a use for them reopening them as a way to help? Or is there something else you're thinking about?

SARASWATI SINGH: I'm open to exploring all options because frankly I want everyone to feel safe. And if there's alternatives that are better, I'm open to reopening some facilities. But frankly when those facilities shut down, there should have been alternatives in place, and there weren't.

And so I'd like to further explore doing that and working with the police chiefs, the prosecutors within the office, all the stakeholders to figure out what we need to do so that the office is responsive and keeping everyone safe and addressing the juvenile crimes, the most serious crimes in an effective way.

CATHY WURZER: I was looking through your resume, and you are a prosecutor. But you have a lack of management expertise and experience. What do you say to folks who might be a little worried about that? Because this is obviously a very big office with a multimillion dollar budget.

SARASWATI SINGH: I would disagree with that. Governor Walz appointed me to the Council of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans. I oversee a state agency. We represent about 300,000 Minnesotans. I work on policy, mission, interacting with folks, advocating at the state legislature. I was even the treasurer, so managing the finances.

I've managed a government affairs department as well. And as a prosecutor, I've recruited, trained, hired folks within my office, prosecutors. I've been president of the American Constitution Society, the nation's largest progressive legal network right here in Minnesota. I was elected to four terms.

I oversaw prosecutors, defense attorneys, many lawyers, and dealt with personnel issues, the things that you deal with. And some people think you need as many years of experience as possible with management. But just because you've done something for a long time doesn't mean you're good at it, and I'm a good leader.

CATHY WURZER: I've appreciated the conversation. Thank you so very much.

SARASWATI SINGH: Thank you. I've loved hearing you driving around for the Minnesota Attorney General's Office back in my last job.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, my gosh. Thank you for listening. I appreciate it.

SARASWATI SINGH: Sure thing.

CATHY WURZER: Saraswati Singh is a prosecutor in the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. She is running to be the next Hennepin county attorney.

As I mentioned, early voting in this race is happening right now. The primary is August the 9th. You can sign up to vote when you get to your local polling station. You can find out how to register and find out where your local polling place is by visiting hennepin.us/residents/elections.

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Believe this or not, the Mall of America turns 30 years old this month. If you're under a certain age or new to the area, you may not remember a Minnesota without the Mall of America. But before it opened in 1992, the mall was a long time coming, and its success was far from certain-- 530 retail stores, 40 restaurants, and 18-hole mini golf course, an amusement park.

There were many supporters, but there were also many who thought it would turn into a giant, empty eyesore. Here are some listeners who called into MPR's Midday Show, The Gary Eichten, from July of 1985.

SUBJECT 1: Hi, I guess I don't know a lot about this project, but what I've read and what I've heard, it just really irks me. I wonder where our priorities are. And I wonder how many more stores do we need in the Twin City areas.

SUBJECT 2: I go to two to three national conventions a year. I've been going for the past 20 years, and it sounds great. You're going to have all this stuff under one roof.

But people are individuals, and I always hate to get trapped in a situation where it's been preplanned. If you walk in, and you see one [INAUDIBLE], you've seen them all.

SUBJECT 3: I want to know if any of my tax money will go into this because if this project becomes a white elephant, the whole burden will fall on the financial resources of the state's taxpayers.

CATHY WURZER: That's a little bit of audio from the MPR archives, is part of our Minnesota Now and then history segment on the program. We wanted to look at the Mall of America.

Maureen Bausch was the mall's public relations manager for 25 years, beginning in 1990. Maureen is with us right now. Hey, it's good to hear your voice. How are you?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Great how are you, Cathy?

CATHY WURZER: Good. Thank you. Well, you were hired essentially to convince folks that the building was going to work.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes, which was-- I'm having a little PTSD right now for listening to that.

CATHY WURZER: Right, exactly. It was kind of a tall order, if I remember, since there was some evidence to back up some of the naysayers, if you remember, right?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes, definitely.

CATHY WURZER: There was that-- gosh, was it 1979? There was a report that found that retail in the area was saturated.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: There were lots of stories that were printed, some accurate, some not so much. We had done extensive research before the mall opened, the developers, the Ghermezians, as well as the Simon Group as well, and our investors. So that's what we had faith in.

But with anything, you can research it and find an answer that meets your needs. And many retailers did not want us entering this market, for sure.

CATHY WURZER: Gosh, I remember covering this. And the Ghermezian brothers, well, let's just say they were unique.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yeah, visionaries.

CATHY WURZER: Yes, unique visionaries.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes.

CATHY WURZER: Of course, we have a clip. We have a lot of audio. We're going to listen to a clip of Nader Ghermezian. And he happened to be quite frustrated in 1985 over delays in approval for the project.

NADER GHERMEZIAN: Let's come to our senses. What these people are doing, they are undermining everybody, and you're trying to kill indirectly the biggest and the most viable project that this state could ever have. I don't think anybody could afford to lose a project like that.

CATHY WURZER: And it was a big tussle in the state legislature.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes. Yes. A lot of people didn't believe because there wasn't anything like this in the United States. And so it was hard for people to imagine that it was going to work. And also, there were some big retailers that did not want new competition.

CATHY WURZER: Did you think right away, Maureen, that the mall would be a success?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: I did, but I was a retailer. I came out of the supermarket industry. I grew up in retail. I traveled the country for the job that I was, and cub was spreading throughout the country at that time.

And for some reason, I just knew it was going to be successful. I didn't know we'd have such fabulous partners like Northwest Airlines who would do these great shop till you drop flights. I couldn't imagine people coming from England to shop there, but I did know it was going to be successful.

CATHY WURZER: Now, your budget was pretty big for a statewide campaign. But you were trying to reach a national audience, too, I mean, what you were hoping for, obviously, right?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes.

CATHY WURZER: So how did you marshal your forces to get the PR out there?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: It was almost completely earned media. And I have to thank Mona Meyer McGrath and Gavin. Dave Mona, Sarah Gavin really worked with us to help use earned media and tell the story through credible publications, and it worked. It worked.

We could not-- and then we had great partners, again who would talk about it with us and co-brand with us. And that helped also. But it was hard to convince people that first of all, that we were going to open. People didn't think it would ever open and then that they would like it.

CATHY WURZER: And I remember opening day. Yeah. How did you feel opening day?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Probably exhausted, to be real honest with you, because we had worked so hard the last few months. And we had done more research that said people finally believed it would open, but they were going to come and absolutely hate it. And it was so funny.

And so I remember rounding the corner outside the media center. And I don't know, Cathy, if you were in that media center. It was on first floor on the North side. And we had 2,400 media from around the country covering it. It was just amazing.

But we rounded that corner, and there were people with their faces pressed up against the door. And the crowd was as deep as far deep as you could see.

And of course, I was pretty exhausted. I think I started to cry and [? acted ?] like, oh, my gosh, they're actually coming. And we had 13,000 people starting work the very first day at the same time in those hundreds of stores. 150,000 people entered the building that day, and it just never stopped.

CATHY WURZER: I give you a tip of a hat to the various events that have been held at the mall over the years because that was a big marketing tactic for you, right?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: It was, and what we realized very early on was that we had to keep that building fresh, that we had to always have something new and something happening. And in those days, the record labels and the agents really liked to get their celebrities out to promote whatever they have a book, a movie, a video. And so we marketed to them, and they brought their celebrities and their events to Mall of America because there were a lot of people.

CATHY WURZER: I remember broadcasting every Saturday from the WCCO Radio booth with the little headphones--

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yes, yes.

CATHY WURZER: --on the third floor. Yeah, and it was every conceivable celeb who came through. Yeah, and it seemed to work.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: It did. It really did because people knew they'd find something new. And there was such a variety there that whether you were one or 100, or you had $1 or $10,000 to spend, you could come and enjoy yourself. And that place for fun in your life really captured it. It's a promise that we could keep.

CATHY WURZER: OK. Any favorite memories from some of the live events?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Oh, my gosh, there are so many, and I don't think we have that much time. But I remember, and these are oldies, but Zsa Zsa Gabor came in 1994, and she was in her 70s. And she--

CATHY WURZER: And I remember that.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: She came into my office, and I was in the basement of the mall with the fluorescent lights. And she said, oh, darling, never sit under fluorescent lights. You'll age so quickly. I was like 30-something. She was hysterical.

And Joan Rivers, oh, my gosh, that woman was a workaholic. Mary Kate and Ashley were 11-year-olds that ran around our office for 10 days while they filmed "Dance Party," their movie. They were just delightful girls, so respectful. They called me Mrs. Bausch all week.

And Britney Spears, we used to get celebrities on their way up or on their way down and because we did not ever pay. And so Britney Spears when she had pigtails in her little pleated skirt in sync, Backstreet Boys. And remember when Planet Hollywood opened?

CATHY WURZER: Yes.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: And then, of course, the wonderful Vince Flynn, he had his first and I believe his last book signing at Mall of America. He was a real friend, a friend to the mall.

CATHY WURZER: Well, obviously everyone's shopping online these days. And of course, so many of the big name stores at the Mall of America have come and gone. Where do you think that leaves the Mall of America in this time and day?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: I have to commend the team of the Ghermezians and Rich Hoge, Jill Renslow, Kurt Hagan, and their leasing team. They have brought in attractions and retail to that building that can't be found online. It's beautiful probably prettier than the day it opened, and it's in fabulous condition.

And again, they're still adding new things every day. But there are a lot of attractions. And you just can't do those online.

CATHY WURZER: And is that the key?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yeah.

CATHY WURZER: The secret to success. Is it more of an experience?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Retail experience, attraction experience, dining experience, people still like to get out and do that. And even through COVID, they're doing extremely well. So I commend that team.

CATHY WURZER: Wonder what the future holds for the Mall of America. I mean, they can't expand it anymore, can they?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Oh, yes.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, great.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: They're adding the big waterpark to the North and probably more hotels. And it's like Disneyland, as long as you-- and Disney World. As long as you keep adding and changing with your customers and understanding what consumers want, you'll be fine.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, Maureen, what a trip? What a trip it has been, from the very first time I was in Governor Perpich's-- the governor's reception room when he introduced the Ghermezian brothers and the idea. I remember the Capitol Press Corps was like, what is this? What?

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Yeah.

CATHY WURZER: Are you kidding me? Yeah.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: Oh, it was--

CATHY WURZER: Yes.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: They found that piece of land. They had something similar up in Canada, if you recall.

CATHY WURZER: Yes.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: And they were here for the Mayo Clinic appointment. And they drove by that piece of land that was the Viking and Twin Stadium and said that would be an ideal place for a mall like Edmonton. And they made it happen. So I credit them.

CATHY WURZER: Well, Maureen, thanks for going down memory lane with us today.

MAUREEN BAUSCH: It's been fun. It's been very fun.

CATHY WURZER: Excellent. Thank you so much. Maureen Bausch was the Mall of America's public relations manager for 25 years. She also co-wrote a book, including some of her experiences at the mall called "Big Brands, Little Budgets."

And by the way, special thanks to Jean from the Bloomington Historical Society for helping us with the research for this interview. It was fun. Thank you to Maureen for coming in.

Thank you for listening today to Minnesota Now here at MPR. We had a good time today. A lot happened. I hope you have a good rest of the day. Stick around. The news is coming up next.

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