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Local/state briefs

Man pleads guilty to poaching black bear on reservation

ST. PAUL (AP) — A man accused of shooting a 700-pound black bear on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota and removing its head pleaded guilty Thursday, although his lawyer alleges that only half of the federal government’s story is accurate.

Brett Stimac, 41, of Brainerd, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of wildlife trafficking and trespassing on Indian land for the September 2019 incident, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Minnesota. Prosecutors have said Stimack killed the bear with a compound bow near the reservation’s garbage dump and came back later to remove the bear’s head for a trophy.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians does not permit non-Indians to hunt bear, a clan animal, within the boundaries of the reservation, due to the bear’s spiritual significance to the tribe, prosecutors said. Stimac isn’t an enrolled member of tribe.

Stimac’s attorney, Brian Toder, said Stimac originally lied about shooting the bear, but the animal was already dead when his client found it. Toder on Thursday told The Associated Press that he will make that argument at a sentencing hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

St. Paul City Council OKs guaranteed income pilot project

ST. PAUL (AP) — The St. Paul City Council has voted unanimously to approve Mayor Melvin Carter’s proposal to guarantee $500 in monthly income to 150 low-income families affected by COVID-19.

The council was poised last week to approve using $300,000 in federal CARES Act funding to launch the pilot program, but decided to wait a week after U.S. Rep Betty McCollum questioned whether the plan would meet legal requirements for spending the coronavirus aid or endanger participants’ eligibility for other aid programs.

But the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Muneer Karcher-Ramos, director of the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment, told the council Wednesday his office had confirmed that the plan was allowed. He also said there would be systems in place to educate families about how it might affect their eligibility for other benefits.

The mayor has said philanthropy will fund most of the $1.5 million, 18-month project, which is aimed at stabilizing the finances of disadvantaged families. His plan is shaped after an initiative by the mayor of Stockton, California, that has been giving 125 residents $500 per month since 2019. Mayors in at least 25 cities — from Los Angeles to Paterson, New Jersey — are now pledged to support such programs as part of the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

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