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Daily Glean: Coverage of Petraeus betrays us

By David Brauer | Wednesday, April 9, 2008 In Wednesday’s news roundup, coverage of our senior senator’s face time with Gen. David Petraeus is buried or virtually absent, but Katherine Kersten keeps grilling a local Arab school leader.

Remember the Iraq War? Major election issue? Both papers downplay a big local angle: Norm Coleman on Iraq. The campaigning senator gets public face time to quiz Gen. David Petraeus several months after positioning himself as a surge critic; his triangulation is one of the Senate election’s major issues. But the Strib buries its story inside and the D.C.-reporterless Pioneer Press has no Coleman feature at all. (It runs an AP story with a single Norm mention.)

Norm: what did and didn’t get printed. The Strib emphasizes Coleman’s lamentation about inadequate pressure on Iraq President Nouri Al-Maliki. He backs off a Washington Post quote: “How do we get out of this mess?” For all the political blogs on local news websites, no one finds time for a transcript of our senior senator’s mike time. [UPDATE: We’ve now published it here.] And despite the Strib’s acknowledgment that Coleman is running for re-election, no one includes reaction from Democratic opponents.

The Wall Street Journal, via the PiPress, says a Northwest-Delta merger could be announced next week. This ought to help things: Delta pilots may picket Northwest hubs. They don’t like the fact that NWA fliers want them to drop certain seniority guarantees.

Hoo-boy: The alleged driver of the van that killed four Cottonwood kids now says her boyfriend was driving it. The Strib’s Pam Louwagie scores the nice get, a first-hand version of a story Olga Franco’s relatives told the PiPress March 30. Authorities say Franco told them she was alone in the vehicle; she says the boyfriend ran away and threatened her life if she talked. The PiPress noted the pair was stopped on earlier traffic violations.

A few days ago, I heard a rumor that Strib editors asked columnist Katherine Kersten to back off writing about Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, the Arab-oriented suburban charter school. She never called me back. But today, she checks in with another piece alleging religious activity at the public school. There’s reporting here: She talks to a substitute teacher who confirms Kersten’s fears, and the columnist also uses state Data Practices info to vet the school’s previous claims.

More Kersten: The school still won’t let her visit, an ongoing tactical mistake, allowing headline writers to allege a “Wall of Silence.” But there’s also an illuminating email exchange with the school’s director. It’s testy. Q: Who is the gentleman who dresses in white and sometimes leads or participates in prayer at the assembly? A. Many people dress in white. We do not track the garment colors of staff or visitors.

Fascinating Strib editorial on a legislative push for “dental practitioners,” which are like nurse practitioners for your mouth. Thirty of them would fill cavities, pull teeth and administer meds in high-poverty, low-dentistry areas. The state dental association “strongly opposes” the initiative, which would be the nation’s first. It’s OK in 40 countries, though.

It’s a stunt that summons old alt-weekly days: City Pages’ Matt Snyders smokes a bowl of the hallucinogenic plant Salvia. (DFL Rep. Joe Atkins is pushing a long-shot ban.) After forking over 60 bucks in a local head shop, Snyders writes, “The experience was not pleasurable, and reinforced my understanding that Salvia is not a ‘party drug.'” It’s a fun read, especially for the Snyders-Atkins chat.

Turns out abortion opponents don’t like surrogate motherhood. The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba writes that DFL Sen. Linda Higgins’ bill “would reliably establish the legal parentage” of surrogate babies. However, the Minnesota Family Council produced surrogacy Jane Roes who say their deals amounted to prostitution. KARE shows surrogates who disagree. The law says surrogates would have to be at least 21 and have their own legal counsel and written agreement. That would help stop abuse, advocates contend.

Speaking of moms — and dads — WCCO has a relatively lengthy look at a U program that helps unmarried parents come together. Marriage is tacitly pushed, but the story indicates it’s unaggressive. Fundamentally, the taxpayer-sponsored Minnesota Family Formation Project is about relationship support.

The driver was allegedly going 80 mph when he slammed into and killed a mom on Minneapolis’s Lake Street, the Strib reports. A 15-year-old has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, among six felony counts. But didn’t only one person die? Reporters spoke to the boy’s mom (“My son is not a monster”) but won’t identify the juvenile.

Puking Republicans” may get more guzzle time. The PiPress reports that a House Committee passed the GOP Convention 4 a.m. bar closing bill. Now any city in the seven-county metro can sign up, and charge up to a $2,500 fee to barkeeps for five days of late nights. (No Friday or Saturday action.) If cities go all-in fee-wise, that should keep demand down. Reporter Tad Vezner says St. Paul may reconsider its opposition. 

Day two, bonding bill veto: In a story on St. Paul’s veto fusillade, the Strib quotes House GOP leader Marty Seifert saying he and GOP Senate counterpart Dave Senjem had projects vetoed. What and how big were they?

More bonding: WCCO’s Pat Kessler showcases DFLers beefing over the LRT veto, calling the pre-deal bleating the “storm before the calm.” The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury has a nice rundown of all the moving pieces.

AP reports that the National Transportation Safety Board chief says MnDOT and its consultants are not being obstructionist. It was all a misunderstanding! Staff had “concerns that those parties might proceed independently if they perceived we were not actively pursuing the investigation for an extended period of time because of the demands of a public hearing,” Mark Rosenker argues. I think few Minnesotans will call his group the National Transparent Safety Board.

I’m just getting up to speed on Maplewood’s dysfunctional city government, but the PiPress’s Elizabeth Mohr says the fractiousness may cause an insurer to dump the city’s policy. Four employment claims in two years plus a land-use suit and a million bucks in litigation losses will do that to you.

Neat Strib story about Dakota County’s new “natural park.” It’s part of a “young, young, young” park system that enviros praise. David Peterson crafts an engaging tale of the family that’s selling the land, complete with a homemade “Lake Inferior.”

Oooh — walking life-sized dinosaurs. See you at the X June 11-15. Strib doesn’t list prices, but PiPress does: $30-$75. They go on sale Saturday at 11 a.m. Promo video here.

I can still taste the garlic fries at San Francisco’s ballpark – and that’s a good thing – so I’m keenly interested in the Twins’ new stadium fare. However, I’m not looking forward to fried cheese curd stench (with, uh, port wine sauce?). WCCO’s Lisa Kiava is also down on the curds, but walleye tacos and stadium-sauced wild-rice brats sound good. (The concessionaire does Milwaukee’s state-of-the-brat Miller Park.) Mark Rosen makes a great point: Bring back old-time Frost-T-Malts! Prices?

Nort spews: Last week, I complained about the papers’ NHL standings; this week, in the wake of another Wolves loss (121-119 to Charlotte), it’s the NBA. Conventional standings? Fine. But why not lottery standings given our woeful state?


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