‘An Awful Secret’

After three months of interviews and research, Jana Hollingsworth and I published this story about a Minnesota family’s struggle to have childhood sexual abuse allegations heard.

Illustration by Gary Meader

On Monday we followed up with a story about a bill that would remove the statute of limitations for felony sex crimes in Minnesota. It has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

This is not a story we sought out or stumbled upon. This was a family who approached us, trusted us and allowed us to ask difficult questions. I can’t thank them enough. I believe it is paramount we break the silence on all allegations of wrongdoing lest they worsen and spread — and amid the chaotic swirl of an angry and often indifferent internet, a printed newspaper is the clearest and loudest way to do that.

Previously on Brooks Investigates:

We probably won’t be seeing much population growth in the region over the next few decades. And with a wave of Baby Boomer retirements just starting to crest, the workforce will shrink as a result. That could have profound impacts on our economy and, thus, our standard of life.

Graphic by Gary Meader/Duluth News Tribune

In news-you-can-use, I found through records requests that the number of parking tickets declined sharply last year (bit of a fluke) while the rate of ticket-forgiveness rose (concerted effort). I also explored misconceptions about the mission and financing of parking enforcement — they’re not hiding behind bushes, or so we’re told.

John Lundy and I examined what might happen to hospital charity care and bad debt now that the federal insurance mandate is disappearing, and I dug around some PUC filings to let you know how big industry feels about Minnesota Power’s proposed natural gas plant.

And if you want to get wonky about Duluth’s half-percent sales tax increase that needs legislative approval, check out this piece on past efforts and predictions.

I also helped cover the news that Rep. Rick Nolan would not seek re-election in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, leaving an open seat in one of the most-watched districts in the country. Watch for the carefully sprinkled analysis in that story, my favorite kind.

Elsewhere, I’ve started a podcast for Lake Superior Writers, a local nonprofit dedicated to fostering the literary arts in Northeastern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin. Also available on iTunes and Google Play, it was one of the first initiatives I undertook when I joined the board of LSW this winter. Watch for more cool stuff to come at our website and on Facebook. And as I sign off on the podcast: Keep reading, keep writing.