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Daily Glean: NTSB to Oberstar: Drop dead (with deference)

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker rolls over on his belly, sort of, telling a hepped-up Jim Oberstar that “I don’t enjoy being in your doghouse.” Still, Rosenker told Oberstar’s committee he won’t stage the I-35W bridge collapse public hearing that Oberstar wants, MPR’s Sea Stachura reports. It’ll slow down the investigation, Rosenker says. After the investigation wraps, “We’ll get a public hearing like nothing we’ve done before … peer review ad nauseam.”

More NTSB: According to the Strib, there’s a small victory for the congressman: Asked if a design flaw collapsed the bridge, Rosenker says, “I’ve been sensitized to this by Mr. Oberstar. I’m not going to tell you what happened on that bridge.”  Without naming names, the ranking Republican on the committee said Oberstar’s actions amount to “highly inappropriate” investigative interference, the PiPress’s Jason Hoppin reports.

Related: WCCO’s Reality Check asks “Where’s Carol Molnau?” Pat Kessler says she’s issued no statements since the Senate fired her from the MnDOT commissionership two months ago. The guv’s office says she’s working on “trade, tribal … and military issues.” Gov. Pawlenty admits “we’re kind of ad-hoc-ing it.” He says she will help the new MnDOT commissioner transition into his new job.

NWA-Delta $10.5 billion loss story, Day Two. Execs will love the Strib hed: “Big losses boost case for NWA, Delta deal.” Of course, fuel-driven operating losses made up only 4.4 percent of yesterday’s combined losses; the rest is accounting, but whatever. Today’s real news details drastic flight schedule shrinkage — NWA fourth-quarter flights will be down 12.6 percent; Delta loses 10 percent after July 1, the Strib’s Liz Fedor reports.  Execs talk tougher about cost-cutting.

As gas prices rise, everybody loves Bus Rapid Transit, right? Saves you at the pump, cheaper than light-rail. But some leading Apple Valley businesspeople are bumming, the Strib’s David Peterson reports. They say BRT’s light-rail-like stations along Cedar Avenue would take too much land for park-n-rides (ironic). Also, easing Cedar’s traffic flow cuts off business-feeding access points. By the way, Metro Transit’s ridership is the highest in two decades, led by light-rail gains.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery has had an interesting week. First, anti-tax goofballs allegedly threaten to “take her out.” Now, the AP reports that Montgomery dismissed all but one claim against government officials in last April’s Willmar immigration raids. The Strib says the suit claimed agents “did not present search warrants, used coercion [and] used false pretenses.” The judge says plaintiffs must get more specific on the remaining count.

Fascinating foreclosure-auction you-are-there by Finance & Commerce’s Burl Gilyard. Fifty-one homes go in two hours; a four-bedroom in Apple Valley recently listed at $235,000 sells for $95,000; a $205,000 Big Lake home goes for $75,000. One north Minneapolis home fetches $3,000 — another gets no action. Click through — good atmospherics.

MPR’s Ambar Espinoza says local natural gas prices are hitting Hurricane Katrina-like levels even though the winter heating season is over. That matters because more companies are using natural gas to produce electricity, which affects cooling costs.

Oopie: Activists hold a news conference about the Minneapolis p.d. suspending a third black cop — but it wasn’t true. The Strib’s Dave Chanen reports that FBI agents interviewed the officer, but the department didn’t do anything. The officer, like suspended Lt. Lee Edwards, is one of five suing the department for racial discrimination. The FBI won’t say what’s up. The activists don’t apologize for the mis-info, or publicizing the officer’s name errantly.

Gov. Pawlenty named a “business-dominated” commission to propose a state tax overhaul, the PiPress’s Bill Salisbury reports. Five of 15 members are Pawlenty contributors. Most are local execs, investors and CPAs; Finance & Commerce has the roster. Love this line: “While he hopes the panel suggests tax cuts, [Pawlenty] said, he would let the members decide what the best course is for improving the state’s business climate.” A Dec. 1 report date means governor-in-waiting Molnau could receive it.

By veto-proof majorities, both legislative houses passed cap-and-trade guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions, the PiPress’s Dennis Lien reports. Legislators essentially guaranteed the Legislature must approve any cap-and-trade accord. AP plays up complaints about cap-and-trade job-killing from Republicans and Iron Range DFLers, but apparently legislative prerogatives triumphed over global-warming skepticism. The Senate bill is weaker than the House’s, Lien says.

The “Hannah Montana” bill passed its final legislative hurdle yesterday; it outlaws ticket-buying software that inflamed tween parents. I’m coming to the story late, so I’ve always been a bit mystified by enforcement — how can you tell what software bought tickets, or reach through the Internet’s tubes to stop it? Today, the offending technology manufacturer tells the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere that the Minnesota bill “puts a stop to software that doesn’t exist.”

Atkins, Day Two: Score one for Gunner Joe Atkins — “Hannah’s Law” was the headline-grabbing Inver Grove Heights legislator’s bill. After I urged local scribes to profile him yesterday, AP’s Martiga Lohn sent me one she did last year, as Atkins was angling for a U.S. Senate run. A wire service that’s ahead of the curve, folks.

Stanek, Day Two:
Yesterday’s Glean played up a retired Edina cop’s complaints that Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek elbowed out the real investigators during a photo op donating shoplifted clothes to women in need. It’s the Glean’s policy not to re-report stories, but a Stanek spokesman says Macy’s (from whom the clothes were taken) invited the sheriff and pointedly did not disclose investigative details. So, the spokesperson asserts, Stanek was innocently walking into a snakepit.

Fun PiPress op-ed from Minnesota 2020 fellow John Fitzgerald. He touts the notion of “Test Freedom Day,” which, like Tax Freedom Day, marks the date when Minnesota school kids are free of standardized tests. Fitzgerald notes kids miss up to six days of instruction taking a battery of tests, and says the tests are over-determinative. There’s a nice list of Minnesota’s 10 standardized tests.

Is it sweeps month? KSTP promises a blockbuster update on the Chris Jenkins killing; this was the college student found dead in the Mississippi after a night of downtown drinking in 2002. Minneapolis cops reopened the murder investigation in 2006. Retired New York City detectives have worked the case — and others like it — since then. A station exec says ABC will take the story national. KARE features an interview tonight with recently fired WCCO weatherman Paul Douglas.

The Strib’s Judd Zulgad reports that if newly acquired defensive end Jared Allen “gets into trouble” before next March, the Vikes will owe him $16.3 million, not $31 million. As a repeat DWI guy, Allen faces a full-year suspension for another incident. He gets $74 million he plays out his six-year deal. Vikes owner Zygi Wilf asked partners for a nearly $20 million infusion to pay Allen this year, the Strib’s Kevin Seifert notes.

Nort spews:
The A’s shut out the Twins 3-0. So much for more offense.

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