web 21st Century Partnership report addresses diversity issues

That racism exists in Olmsted County is and was a difficult issue to confront, he added. PHOTO ``We feel we must promote a zero-tolerance approach to discriminatory behavior,'' says Jim Licari, chairman of the Diversity Task Force of the 21st Century Partnership. (Photo by Germaine Langer Neumann) Task force proposes countywide human rights commission A committee on diversity has recommended that Olmsted County adopt a human rights ordinance and create a commission that could impose fines and refer cases to the county attorney.

``We felt we had to do something very significant or there would be no progress,'' said Jim Licari, chairman of the 21st Century Partnership's Diversity Task Force.

The task force, one of seven committees examining key issues that will be critical to the community in the 21st Century, released a report during a news conference this morning at the city-county Government Center. It found that the city's volunteer-run human rights commission does not have the authority or resources to meet the needs of the county or city, Licari said.

In addition, he said the city's human rights ordinance is not in compliance with a state law prohibiting discrimination against people ``because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, and age.''

The task force had many recommendations. But Licari said members agreed on three proposals that should be implemented before others: the adoption of a countywide human rights ordinance, creation of a countywide human rights commission, and the hiring of staff to assist the commission in mediating diversity conflicts.


10 years after murders, Brom reaches out to teen-agers

A decade after being arrested for brutally killing his family in a three-minute rage, David Brom is reaching out to teen-agers at risk of ending up in prison.

Brom, who was 16 when he was taken into custody, is involved in a program in which inmates talk to young people about life in prison.

Warren Higgins, associate warden of operations at the prison, said Brom voluntarily participates in the program, called Straight Talk.

``This is a matter-of-fact thing to give them (kids) accurate information of what life is like in prison,'' Higgins said.

The inmates talk to at-risk youths from St. Cloud as well as young people in custody at the correctional facility for juvenile offenders at Sauk Centre.

When not volunteering for that program, Brom works in the prison print shop.

Brom has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 19, 1988, the morning after the bodies of his mother, brother and sister were found in their two-story Cascade Township home.


Brom was arrested at the post office in northwest Rochester after hiding in a culvert overnight.

Killed in the violent attack were Brom's parents, Bernard and Paulette, both 41, his brother Ricky, 11, and sister Diane, 13. An older brother, Joe, did not live at home and survived. His whereabouts are unknown today.

The murders drew nationwide attention, not only because four members of a family were killed, but because the weapon used was an ax and the suspect was a member of the family. The attacks occurred during the night while the family was asleep. The father was beaten to the ground as he tried to get up, the mother repeatedly hit in the hallway, Ricky was killed while asleep in his bed clutching a blanket. Sister Diane was killed when she came to the aid of her mother.

Plans for old library building stall

The former Rochester Public Library building on South Broadway apparently will remain vacant a while longer.

James Paulson, who owns the building at 11 First St. S.E., had a buyer lined up and a purchase agreement signed last fall, but the deal hasn't been finalized. Now Paulson plans to cancel the deal, according to Paulson's attorney, Paul Ohly.

Paulson has owned the building since 1995, when he bought it from the city for $276,000 with plans to redevelop it for office and retail space. The library moved into its new home at 101 Second St. S.E. in late 1995.

In September, Paulson signed a contract to sell the building to Samer Taumalla of Minneapolis for an undisclosed price. But earlier this month, Ohly informed Taumalla that the purchase agreement will be canceled in about three months unless Taumalla pays the balance of the purchase price, as well as attorneys fees, the cost of serving Taumalla with the cancellation notice and other costs.


In the meantime, Taumalla has filed a Notice of Lis Pendens with Olmsted District Court. Essentially a lien, the notice ``is a filing that says, `We're in a dispute over the ownership or title of this property,' '' explained Paul Finseth of Dunlap &; Seeger law offices in Rochester.

Finseth, who practices real estate law but is not involved in this case, says Taumalla's filing likely will stall any sale of the building until the dispute is resolved. No hearing date on Taumalla's filing has been set.

Taumalla could not be reached for comment. Ohly said he also has had difficulty contacting Taumalla.

Man in crime spree pleads to one charge

One of four men charged in connection with a December crime spree that included armed robberies and a high-speed chase pleaded guilty to one of the charges hours before his trial was set to begin on Tuesday.

Richard Allen Dalton, 19, no permanent address, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in the first degree. Under terms of a plea agreement, the prosecution dropped a count of second-degree assault, two charges of first-degree burglary and will not charge Dalton with garage burglaries in the county that occurred the same night as the attempted robbery.

Judge James Mork accepted Dalton's plea about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday -- hours after the hearing began in midmorning. Within minutes after opening the hearing, prosecutor Rick Jackson asked that it be stopped, saying there was a misunderstanding over the length of prison sentence Dalton could expect.

Specifically, he said, he and the defense attorney had erred in reading the state sentencing guidelines that would apply in this case. The error would make a difference of several months in the time Dalton could expect to serve.


The hearing resumed at 2 p.m., recessed again at 3 p.m. and reconvened at 4 p.m. to give attorneys a chance to resolve the matter.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Dalton knows he can expect to serve a mandatory minimum three years in prison. Defense attorney Fred Suhler will move for a downward departure while Jackson could move for a stiffer sentence. Sentencing is set for 10 a.m. March 20.

The charges against Dalton stemmed from a crime spree that authorities say began late the night of Dec. 14 when there was a break-in and attempted robbery at a home in southeast Rochester. Dalton admitted going into the home after it had been entered by others. He pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his belt and pointed it at another teen-ager's chest. When the victim yelled for help, he was hit on the head, and the suspects fled.

Park board recommends decrease in fees for horse riders

Members of the Olmsted County Park Board will recommend that daily fees be dropped a couple of bucks for horse riders at Chester Woods Park. But board members haven't reached a conclusion on the stickier issues of creating more access and trails for horses and allowing riding during the winter.

The recommendation to reduce the daily bridle fee from $5 to $3 will go to the Olmsted County Board. The park board decided Tuesday against a request from some horse owners to drop the fee for an annual horse pass from $25 to $15.

Park users pay $3 per car for a day in the park, or they can buy an annual pass for $15. Horse owners pay the car entrance fees on top of the bridle fees if they take their horses in through the main entrance.

Last summer, the county sold about 40 annual horse permits and another 40 or so daily passes. But this summer will be the first time the county has offered a paved parking area for horse trailers just inside the main park entrance, which is on U.S. 14 about five miles east of Rochester.


In addition to asking for the fee reductions, representatives of horse riding groups and horse owners who live near the park asked for more park access and trails.

Riders can now enter the park through the main entrance or through a horses-only gate on Chester Woods' west side. Riders have asked that that entrance be closed for safety reasons and replaced with two different access points along the park's west edge. @et For eight months, the 21 members of the Diversity Task Force of the 21st Century Partnership listened to reports on diversity issues.

They studied reports on Olmsted County demographics and listened to presentations from the Diversity Council, law enforcement and school officials, among others. Members of outlying communities such as Stewartville and Eyota also addressed the task force with their concerns, said Jim Licari, task force chairman.

The task force's report, which was released Wednesday morning during a news conference at the city-county Government Center, includes many recommendations, ranging from incorporating diverse populations into neighborhoods to improving coordination of diversity efforts to establishing a countywide human rights commission.

``Our only goal in mind was to better the Olmsted community,'' said Licari. ``The charge given the task force was threefold: to eliminate racism, create a welcoming environment for all cultures and abilities and promote the positive values of diversity. With that charge, the task force members were in full agreement that by not addressing the issues we put our collective future as a community at risk.''

Olmsted County has maintained a leadership role in health care, technology, education and business, he said, but ``we strongly believe that our community must add diversity to our list of positive accomplishments and thus oppose discrimination in any form,'' he said.

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