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Edina Hornets logo

Bar Buzz: Return to high school, new laws and more

The Edina Public Schools may soon be without a logo that has graced everything from clocks, walls, gym floors, and the stadium field. It stems back to a logo design from 1981.

Michael Otto designed the logo more than 40 years ago when the school district put on a contest when Edina East and Edina West merged. Otto won the contest and subsequently registered the logo with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Otto entered into an arrangement with the school district. In the letter, the district is authorized to use the logo but it is “not transferable to any other company, organization, or individual.” Additionally, Otto is to be compensated by getting a sample of whatever product the hornet logo is reproduced on.

In March 2021, Otto issued a cease and desist letter. The district was permitted to keep the logo for school athletics and events through the end of the school year, as well as keep the logo in the school’s foyer. But negotiations have been unsuccessful, resulting in Otto filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Jan. 3. Otto alleges copyright infringement, inducement of copyright infringement, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Otto asserts that the school district broke the written agreement in 1981 when it “intentionally took active steps to encourage and promote” third-party use of the logo on merchandise and “knowingly benefited from unjust enrichment” by doing so.

In a Jan. 6 letter to the community, Superintendent Stacie Stanley said that they had tried to negotiate with Otto and buy the copyright or enter into a licensing agreement, but maintained that those efforts had not resulted in progress.

“The cost to remove and replace all Hornet images could be substantial,” Stanley wrote. The district will move to a block-style “E” in place of the hornet. Colors will remain green and gold unless they are ordered to change those, too.

“We are sorry that the Hornet logo as we know it, a symbol of our Edina school community, may change,” Stanley stated.

Folded stack of $20 bills

Police are now prohibited from taking cash or items totaling less than $1,500, unless authorities can establish a direct link to criminal activity. (401K (2012)/Flickr)

New Laws

With the new year has come some new state laws, which became effective on Jan. 1.

One of the more noticeable laws is that an individual’s driver’s license cannot be suspended simply because they cannot pay traffic tickets or parking fines. The fines were untenable for Minnesotans struggling financially and was often resulting in drivers operating vehicles with suspended licenses, and then receiving tickets for that.

Nor can a person’s driver’s license be suspended for failure to appear in court on a petty misdemeanor charge. Additionally, law enforcement cannot seize a person’s vehicle for failure to appear in court.

Police are now prohibited from taking cash or items totaling less than $1,500, unless authorities can establish a direct link to criminal activity. A 2020 report from the nonprofit Institute of Justice gave Minnesota a “D,” finding that half of cash seizures were less than $600. State Auditor Julie Blaha concluded that small amounts of money were not fueling criminal enterprise but could contribute to homelessness.

Employers with at least 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy and childbirth-related health conditions. This could include things like more exceptions to use the bathroom more frequently, limits with heavy lifting, or being out of hazardous or strenuous positions. Employers are not able to reduce an employee’s compensation for break times used to express milk at work.

Coming Soon…

A former employee of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has filed a whistleblower lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court, alleging that he faced retaliation after he expressed concerns about how MPCA handles petroleum leak sites. Mark Toso was employed with the MPCA for almost three decades, working in his latest role as a hydrologist in the petroleum remediation program which investigates if petroleum is being released from storage tanks. Toso averred that he told the agency that petroleum was polluting groundwater, following a 2013 MPCA review of leak sites. It was during this process that Toso identified that there were problems with the agency’s practices. After voicing the concerns, Toso alleges that he received poor performance reviews and reprimands, culminating in Toso resigning in 2021.

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A Rochester woman who was charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (District of Columbia) on Jan. 5, 2022, against the District of Columbia, the chief of Metropolitan Police and individual Metropolitan Police officers. Victoria White claims that she was engaged in protected speech and peacefully assembling at the Capitol when she was “(1) beaten, (2) assaulted, (3) battered, (4) physically abused, (5) subjected to false imprisonment by being grabbed and prevented from escaping physical abuse and punishment without probable cause or just reason.” White requests a jury trial and seeks $1 million.

Award

Mason City residents Robert and Stephanie O’Donnell were awarded $199,223.82 after the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad’s negligence caused damage to the couple’s home. The couple had resided in the home since the 1980s. In 2018, the home flooded and remained flooded for nine weeks. The O’Donnells sued the city as well as DM&E, claiming that they failed to properly maintain culverts, which resulting the in the slough overrunning. In 2008, the railroad had been warned of a culvert problem that resulted in minor flooding. Flooding left the couple’s home uninhabitable and damages reflect $181,061.82 in repair to the property and another $18,182 in property damage. The couple’s claim against the city was dismissed.

Guilty

Sarah Elwood and Jeffrey Jackson pleaded guilty to one count each of aiding and abetting false statements with regards to purchasing firearms. The couple entered into a plea deal after “straw purchasing” nearly 100 guns. The pair conspired to buy firearms on behalf of others but did not tell the federally licensed firearms dealers about who the guns were going to. Then, the pair planned to resell the guns and get a $100 fee for each gun that was purchased. This would allow them to circumvent the national background check system which bars certain people from owning guns.

The Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus

Mayo Clinic has terminated the employment of 700 unvaccinated workers, which accounts for about 1% of the Mayo Clinic workforce. The Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus, center, is pictured in Rochester, Minnesota. (AP file photo: Jim Mone)

COVID-Legal

On Monday, Jan. 3, Mayo Clinic terminated the employment of 700 unvaccinated workers, which accounts for about 1% of the Mayo Clinic workforce. Employees were given the Jan. 3 deadline to receive the first dose of the vaccine or provide a medical or religious exemption. In a statement, Mayo Clinic asserts that the loss of about 1% of staff is “comparable to what other health care organizations have experienced in implementing similar vaccine programs.” Health care workers had filed a lawsuit on Sept. 27, 2021, in federal court challenging President Joe Biden’s requirement that all workers in most health care settings receive the vaccine. U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel denied the request to block the requirement. The plaintiffs included nearly 200 Minnesota health care workers. One of the defendants listed was Mayo Clinic.

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Judge Robert Awsumb issued a temporary restraining order blocking the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for St. Paul city employees at the end of 2021. Judge Awsumb set a scheduling conference for Jan. 20. The unions and city must determine whether they are legally obligated to negotiate or go to arbitration. The vaccine had been announced in October by Mayor Melvin Carter. St. Paul police and firefighter unions, along with Tri-Council (union representing other city employees) challenged the mandate as an unfair labor practice. Those with a religious exemption could opt out of the mandate, but employees were unable to be routinely tested instead of getting the vaccine.

 

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About Laura Brown

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