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Security Concerns Increase at Capitol
By Martin Kaste
April 1, 1999
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Security is a little tighter at the State Capitol in the wake of a pie-attack on State Senator Carol Flynn. Flynn was knocked down outside the Senate chamber when a man protesting the Highway 55 re-route project allegedly threw a cream pie in her face. The incident followed a similar pie-assault on Governor Ventura last week, and some lobbyists and members of the public are worried that new security restrictions could hamper their easy access to elected officials.

ONE DAY AFTER BEING "PIED" outside the Senate chamber, Senator Carol Flynn has acquired something an entourage.

Flynn:I had about three from the sergeant's office, and two troopers so I feel pretty secure today.
The security detail around Flynn is an unusual sight at the State Capitol, where only Governor Ventura gets bodyguards; and even he usually walks around with only two state troopers. Flynn says the pie incident might be an indication that it's time for security to be a higher priority during the legislative session.
Flynn: I really hate to have one anarchist destroy the access for the rest ofthe public, but sometimes that's what happens with this kind of action. I'm thinking that you can never provide total coverage for any of us, but we probably could figure out better gate-keeping.
Flynn says Capitol Security should consider putting more surveillance cameras up, especially in high-traffic areas outside the House and Senate chambers and committee rooms. Flynn says it would also help to have uniformed state troopers stationed around the building.

The Senate's Sergeant at Arms, Sven Lindquist, says the Legislature has not had the benefit of the two state troopers who are usually assigned to it. He says this is a direct result of the extra security demands of the Ventura administration.
Lind:Based on necessity and need elsewhere, that complement have been reduced to one earlier in this session.
MPR: Because the governor needed another trooper?
Lind: That's my understanding, that that trooper was assigned to the Lt. Governor.
Following the pie-throwing incident, the Department of Public Transportation has temporarily assigned two extra troopers to the Legislature. An official with Capitol Security say the extra help may or may not stay long term. The troopers might become a permanent fixture at the capitol if the Legislature agrees to Governor Ventura's $1.1 million request for more six more capitol security officers and one extra state trooper.

Even before the pies started flying, there have been signs of increasing safety-consciousness. The day after Ventura's inauguration, Capitol Security started checking for photo-ID's after hours, and just last week the governor's staff started locking the main doors leading to their offices. Citizen-activist and lobbyist Rich Neumeister says he hopes the new security measures don't undermine the Capitol's open-door culture.
Neumeister: This is a great place for citizens to speak with their elected officials and I just hope people don't over-react, and look at it in perspective. I want to make sure that we don't become like a jail, or a prison.
Neumeister says he's been to other state capitols where security is tighter and there's less access to elected officials, and he says he doesn't want that to happen in Minnesota.

Martin Kaste covers the Capitol for Minnesota Public Radio. You can reach him at