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Daily Glean: 'Fatal' attraction: Norm's lawyers rip judges

Tuesday, Norm Coleman's lawyers declared the Senate election "fatally flawed." Wednesday, they ripped the three election-contest judges for "fatal inconsistency." The Strib's Pat Doyle says it's all about the judges bluntly rejecting an appeal about excluding absentee categories; Coleman claims the recount included similar ballots. Observers say it's unusual for lawyers to criticize judges during a trial, but of course, Coleman expects other jurists to hear his case if he loses. (MinnPost coverage here.)

More contest: The secretary of state's office says specific recounted ballots could be plucked out, if the court wished. The PiPress' Rachel Stassen-Berger notes the trial pace quickened substantially following Tuesday's ruling, and Franken's lawyers say local mistakes shouldn't throw the whole election into question. But shouldn't the court assure consistency if it can?

Flinty St. Paul school super Maria Carstarphen is a finalist for the Austin, Texas, job, the Austin-American Statesman reports. Carstarphen put her Summit Avenue condo up for sale recently, at the time declaiming wanderlust. She once said she expected to stay here "as long as the board and the community thought I was a good leader for the district." Has that changed? The Strib's Emily Johns notes her contract expires this summer.

Minnesota's No Child Left Behind standards are easy-schmeezy, at least compared with other states, Johns reports. A D.C. think tank rated Minnesota fifth-easiest of 28 states in elementary standards. Wisconsin dumbed down NCLB the most. Our standardized-test calculations use generous margin-of-error measurements. The state Department of Ed response is unsatisfying.

In more Petters fallout, Redstone Grill owner Dean Vlahos is being sued for two business loans gone bad, the Strib's Rochelle Olson reports. Vlahos, a Petters victim, is already being sued by another bank and had his Lake Minnetonka manse foreclosed upon. The Champp's founder complains that "the ongoing and unwarranted coverage of my personal life is only more hurtful to my friends and family, many of whom are also victims in the Petters and [Bernard] Madoff cases."

Related: The PiPress' John Welbes probes an enigmatic Petters jailhouse quote — "I also worry about the Polaroid connection" — that may explain the bankrupt company's suits against two hedge funds last week. Basically, Polaroid (a Petters acquisition) claims the hedge funds and Petters improperly schemed to pull money from the company to pay past-due loans with sky-high interest rates. Roughly $400 million is in play.

This is fun: The Strib's Mike Kaszuba reports the Vikings are steaming ahead with a stadium subsidy request/threat, and sympathetic DFLer Tom Bakk adds, "Leave if ya gotta." After meeting with Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, a construction union leader says legislation will be introduced "at the right time" this session. Perhaps on the 12th of Never?

MPR's Dan Olson quotes local leaders lamenting Gov. Pawlenty's veto of a foreclosure freeze last year. Had he let the bill become law, tens of thousands of homeowners might have been helped by the new federal mortgage bailout. Instead, they're renters elsewhere. Still, the federal funds won't even help all the over-leveraged borrowers who remain in their abodes.

Uh-oh: Republican governors elsewhere are upping the ante on anti-stimulus posturing, flirting with declining the feds' money, AP reports. Gov. Pawlenty is not among them, but with Bobby Jindal's name among the refuseniks, can our own putative 2012 presidential candidate resist?

Minnesota might be in line for some of the $8 billion the stimulus dedicates to high-speed rail, the PiPress' Jason Hoppin writes. Seems like a long shot to me; there's not enough money for everyone, St. Paul-to-Chicago is not the highest-trafficked corridor, and a couple of gubernatorial vetoes have retarded planning needed to meet a 120-day window. State leaders effectively tell Duluth railers to butt out; getting to Chi-town in five-plus hours is more likely to get federal cash.

The U.S. Transportation Department rejected claims that U.S. Airways improperly kicked the "flying imams" off a Twin Cities flight three years ago, the PiPress' David Hanners notes. Evidence in the imams' civil suit says the pilot had reasonable reason to make the move, but the feds warned the airline it needed written standards for future incidents. Hanners notes the trial will begin in August.

Symbolic government: Republicans propose a 5 percent pay cut, which would save $600,000, the PiPress' Bill Salisbury reports. (Interestingly, the Edina guy proposes this.) I get the populism, but legislators make $31K a year for what is less and less a part-time job. That's not county commissioner or state officer pay and may keep some non-Edinans from running. I know — this doesn't count per diems, but pay has been frozen for 12 years. Still, the state ranks 16th nationally in compensation.

Wow — the "Truth Test" season for political ads has begun already? KSTP's Tom Hauser examines a couple of "thank you" ads from a pharmaceutical-labor-funded group aimed at Congressmen Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz, who voted for kids' health insurance. Turns out the valentines are true!

Rules for thee but not for me: St. Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority exempts itself from St. Paul's requirement that derelict homes be fixed up before thay are sold, the PiPress' Dave Orrick notes. The hypocritical move means broken-down homes can get fixed faster, members say. The private sector is apparently less responsible, or perhaps the regulations are too strict.

As regular readers may have realized, I'm fascinated by deepcession-created ghost malls and power centers. Finance & Commerce's Burl Gilyard tackles my personal favorite at 494 & France, where Circuit City, World Market and CompUSA have all fled. There are nice lease details and the developer's money quote: "This is the funny thing: Every deal we did at the time was with an industry leader. All of a sudden, none of them are the industry leader."

Ready for a Bert-and-Ernie musical? With uncostumed actors? The Children's Theater Company will try to reprise its "Frog-and-Toad" magic, the Strib's Rohan Preston reports. The Henson empire reached out to the locals; the play begins Sept. 8. The PiPress' Dominic Papatola notes that to cut costs, CTC's eight-play season includes two one-actor shows.

Nort spews: Every Wolves win at this point is remarkable, and winning at Miami even more so. Add to that Bassy Telfair nearly outscoring Dwayne Wade and a 49-24 rebounding edge and you have a 111-104 achievement. SOTC's Britt Robson breaks it down here, and Sore Loser here.

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