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Daily Glean: Lexis-Nexis hits Al Franken

By David Brauer | Friday, April 25, 2008 In Friday’s local news roundup, Republicans use search engines to score an unverified hit on Al Franken. Also: TV sweeps roundup, featuring Don Shelby’s smiling shiv! And: The Daily Show is coming to St.

These days, Democrats are ahead on issues but losing everywhere else. Barry Obama’s laid low by class resentment; Al Franken by messy taxes. The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere and Patricia Lopez say using Lexis-Nexis, Republicans turned up eight paid Franken appearances in California from 2003 to 2007 — possibly undermining claims that his state corporation forgot to pay minimum taxes because it was dormant since 2003. GOP chair Ron Carey says Franken told “a flat-out falsehood.” However …

…the story is messy. The Strib “can’t verify independently whether taxes have gone unpaid.” The income might be on Franken’s personal returns. Republicans get the reporters’ lead paragraph — “charges that [Franken] hid income from California tax authorities for years” — while acknowledged uncertainties are several paragraphs down. To be fair, Franken’s campaign manager hurts his guy with up-top quotes like “if there’s a mistake that’s been made…” rather than “there’s no proof yet and we’ll provide superior information quickly.”

Hear the wailing? The Minnesota House says newly licensed teens can’t drive after midnight or ferry more than one buddy. The Strib frames it as “an attempt to curb the highest teen driving death rate in the country.” Tougher states — and there are 46 of them — have seen major teen-crash drops, a sponsor says. But this only affects teens for six months after they get their licenses; will restrictions really lower crashes that much?

More driving: The 69-59 restricted-hours vote breaks down thusly: Nanny State DFLers say yes 59-22 and Off-My-Back Republicans go no 37-10. The Senate said yes last year; the guv is phlegmatic. Quote of the day from the PiPress: “Kids are stupid.” Pro-restriction GOP Rep. Lynn Wardlow later amended that to refer to actions, not brainpower.

What the heck, it’s almost the weekend, so let’s go early to a TV sweeps round-up:

KSTP: Serial killers murdered Chris Jenkins, the college kid who died in 2002 after a night out in Minneapolis, according to his mom and two retired New York detectives. The flatfoots found similar (but not identical) smiley-face graffiti at the spot where Jenkins and other young men around the country died. It’s a big claim on byzantine circumstantial evidence. You’ll have to tune in tonight to find out what local authorities make of this.

WCCO: Don Shelby spends six minutes explaining why waterless urinals are outlawed here. Plumber job protection, essentially — and Shelby forces plumber-protectin’ DFL State Rep. Tim Mahoney to sponsor a successful pro-dry-urinal bill. Then, in a commentary, Shelby takes a bizarre passive-aggressive shot at Paul Douglas for appearing on KARE during sweeps. Don, WCCO fired him. Oh well; you made me look.

KARE: Douglas speaks. He’s fine. Really. The Strib’s Neal Justin is left to explain that Douglas passed on a chance to say goodbye to viewers; KARE never grills Douglas on possible petulance. That’s our soap opera update for today.

KMSP: Fox9 looks at why its website is local TV news’ worst. Seriously, it’s one step up from this guy’s. Can’t Rupert buy an RSS feed? Anyway, Trish Van Pilsum looks at how a mortgage originator picked off the vulnerable elderly in the Brainerd Lakes area. Van Pilsum gets a Mike Wallace-like confrontation with the dude, who had a felony record and blew through a Department of Commerce ban.

The Lowry Bridge connecting north and northeast Minneapolis closes today
, and unlike the St. Cloud and I-35W bridge, replacement work won’t begin until next year, the PiPress reports. Given the four-mile detour the closing necessitates, no one explains why this bridge’s patrons must wait. MPR quotes Hennepin Commissioner Mark Stenglein saying the new bridge will be in place in two years. The Strib’s Jim Foti notes that funding — $109 million — has not been secured.

By the way, everyone reports that I-35W will shut down from 10 tonight to 5 a.m. Monday between I-94 and the Crosstown. They’re tearing down a bridge near my house for highway expansion.

Oooh, this will be fun: For years, suburban communities have opted out of the Met Council’s transit tax, but now MTC buses are looking a bit more attractive. Lakeville can get a park-and-ride, a bus station (where there are now none) and more routes if the City Council agrees to pony up. It’ll cost Lakevillians $36 per homeowner, the Strib’s Sarah Lemagie reports. DFL Rep. Shelley Madore has tried to force the city and Farmington to pay up.

WCCO’s Pat Kessler says Jon Stewart’s Daily Show will come to St. Paul for the GOP convention. The History Theater, specifically. Local music production guy Howard Kessler (no relation, we presume) did the convincing. The station notes that the show’s most frequent guest is GOP standard-bearer John McCain.

The suddenly interesting world of grain: the PiPress’s Nancy Ngo localizes rising rice prices. Local Asian market customers are hoarding. Prices are up $10 per 50-pound bag, and some customers are buying 15 100-pound bags at a time. Asian growers have cut exports to serve domestic demand; other local grocers sell only U.S. rice and haven’t raised prices.

KARE says three kids fell out of windows in one day; the Strib’s Jim Adams says it’s six this month. Adams mentions a safety screen mandate that goes into effect … on Jan. 1, 2009. It only affects remodeled apartments and houses. Four kids under age 10 died and 151 were injured in the state between 1993 and 2007.

More kid danger: Does new-gen artificial turf softened with ground-up tire pellets harm kids health? PiPresser Bao Ong takes a long look. A bill requiring the state to assess health risks didn’t even receive a hearing. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into possible lead contamination. At least 17 Minnesota high schools use the stuff.

Yow: AP reports Delta CEO Richard Anderson made $11.3 million for four months’ work in 2007. More than $10 million of it was stock options — without knowing the exercise price, we can’t say if the market’s meting out rough justice. The Strib reports on congressional merger hearings, quoting powerful Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer saying the deal “makes some sense.” New Yorker Schumer is the Dem’s chief bag man for finance-sector contributions.

Qwest announced plans to offer 12- and 20-megabit broadband service in the Twin Cities. The respective $47 and $100 monthly rates (if you have Qwest phone service) is cheaper than Comcast’s, the PiPress’s Leslie Brooks Suzukamo reports. Unnoted: Those are 12-month teaser rates; after that, you pay $60 or $110. Eagan, Woodbury, Burnsville, St. Louis Park, Maplewood, Minnetonka and Minneapolis can get it now; the rest of the metro has an unspecified wait.

The St. Paul Cathedral’s rector has a million rhetorical questions — three web pages long! — about Minneapolis’s treatment of Mary Jo Copeland’s Sharing and Caring Hands in today’s Strib ops section. Why hasn’t the current chief visited? (Umm, busy?) Why no crackdown until now? (I think they’ve been trying a kinder approach.) Why more arrests around other shelters? (They’re right in downtown, unlike S&CH.) Why won’t Mary simply meet with the city? Oops — I asked that one.

A good KSTP report links mortgage malfeasance victims to a rise in homeless schoolkids. One mom of three talks about her eviction because her landlord didn’t pay his mortgage; Minneapolis school homeless students have soared from 1,000 to 1,600, and the Anoka Hennepin district’s homeless population is up 25 percent in a year. (MinnPost’s Beth Hawkins chronicled the phenomenon here.)

A damned good question, also in the Strib’s ops section: Elise Knopf asks why doesn’t Minnesota mandate candidates caption their ads for the deaf and hard-of-hearing? Last election, only four candidates did. Costs are reasonable, so is turnaround time, presidential candidates have to do it and four states require it.   

About freakin’ time: eight years in prison for the driver who killed Timberwolf Malik Sealy, then racked up his second post-crash DWI last month. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson says Souksangouane Phengsene will serve at least three years for the first DWI (probation revoked) and five years for the new charge. A new law makes subsequent DWIs felonies. The unguided missile had 10 to 12 beers, and blew a .20 the night he was picked up.

Nort spews:
Francisco Liriano is as bad as he used to be good; Twins lose 11-2. We hear Rochester is a lovely place to re-learn to pitch. Denard Span will join Liriano as Michael Cuddyer is activated.