The Glean underplays crime stories, to compensate for the rest of the media universe. But KSTP’s Tim Sherno has a fascinating report on police cameras … in tasers. Every time cops turn on the electric weapon, the camera whirs. It’s one accountability step beyond dashboard cams, and KS shows taser-cam video that helped exonerate the State Patrol in a fatal January incident. (Excruciating dashboard video here.) Minneapolis has 50 such tasers, Hopkins has five, with more coming everywhere.
Speaking of hot video, WCCO’s Caroline Lowe ambushes Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as he gets into the driver’s side of his city Prius. Turns out Rybak’s license was suspended after he paid most, but not all, of a Rochester speeding ticket. Seems like an honest error, but was he about to drive post-suspension? Just getting stuff out of the car, hizzoner says. But wouldn’t you use the sidewalk/passenger’s side? Conveniently, the mayor is on bike for a commuter challenge today.
The Legislature passed a minimum wage hike by nearly veto-proof margins. And we do mean nearly: the 40-18 Senate vote meets the test, but the 89-45 is one vote short — and by my math, all 134 representatives voted. Without a switcher, the plan — to raise the wage from $6.35 to $6.75 in July, and $7.75 a year later — dies via veto pen.
The Strib and PiPress revel in a Met Council-U email feud over Central Corridor LRT. A 23-page U memo prompted the feds to term the corridor’s timeline “overly aggressive and potentially unrealistic,” but delay could raise already-high costs. The council’s Peter Bell said the school violated trust and he would “no longer be silent when the U says one thing and does another.” The U’s Kathy O’Brien demanded that characterization of ‘the University as a roadblock … cease.'”
More Central Corridor feud: Reportedly, peacemakers intervened by day’s end. The PiPress reprints the emails here (PDF).
Minnesota Republicans hate mandatory booster-seat laws, but AP reports that a liberal-conservative House coalition killed a provision letting cops pull over unbelted motorists. The story includes the vote count which, by my eyeballing, lists three northside or south-central Minneapolis DFers, one tea leaf that racial profiling was a concern.
Pot, kettle: U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman accuses DFL hopeful Al Franken of changing “positions, demeanor and rhetoric,” AP’s Frederic Frommer reports. In a fundraising pitch, Coleman notes the satirist “stopped using curse words in public” and times Franken’s move away from “radical causes” to a “move back to Minnesota — 30 years after he left.” Noting Coleman’s evolution from Clinton lover to Bush poodle, a DFL leader calls the e-mail “one of the most hypocritical political pieces” ever.
The Legislature will mandate a half-credit of high school phys ed as part of a broader education bill passed yesterday, the Strib reports. Now, if they could only do something about my 5th-grader’s 10-minute recess.
We can’t imagine national GOP delegates using the 1,000 free loaner bikes that the Strib’s Anthony Lonetree says will be made available during the convention. But the bikes, available with a credit card swipe, will be great for locals. Turns out 75 of the bikes will remain once McCain’s army leaves. Note to troglodytes: the set-up is different than the discredited “yellow bike” program, where credit cards and deposits weren’t used.
Great PiPress editorial on a proposed Constitutional amendment establishing an independent commission to set legislative pay. Legislators are pushing it, but the editorial notes a gaping loophole: lawmakers would still set their own per diems. That’s been a back-door way to hike compensation. Let the independent group handle both, the PiPress argues.
The other day, the Glean noted that the city of St. Paul faces a $13.1 million budget deficit. But MPR’s Tim Nelson, a former PiPress City Hall guy, says the gap’s emergence is “practically as reliable as a spring ice-out.” He posts 10 years of deficit data; nine of the years have seen negative numbers, from $6 million in 2002 to $33 million in 2003. This year’s number is actually the lowest since then, and roughly average for the period.
Score one for Don Shelby: the state Senate voted to upend a state ban on waterless urinals. It’s a conservation step that the WCCO anchor has championed; no word on House or gubernatorial sentiment. Shelby’s next crusade: AAVs, which eliminate the need for plumbing stacks up through houses. The concept blows this recent renovator’s mind, but Shelby says AAV forces are good at getting courts to go their way, depending on legislative action.
The PiPress’s Dennis Lien says the state House passed a bill requiring state agencies to report on greenhouse gas emission reductions, but the facet that caught my eye “requires outdoor light fixtures installed or replaced using state money to redirect light downward.” I believe this is the so-called “dark skies” provision that Phyllis Kahn has pushed for years. Over time, it might help us better see the stars, but it’s also energy-efficient.
The Strib’s Sarah Lemagie has an interesting trend piece: Farmington wants to block boulevard trees in a new subdivision; instead it would require them to be 8-10 feet back from property lines. Your correspondent is as enviro as the next journalist, but having done stories on the tight quarters boulevard roots are trapped in, this provision makes sense, especially after paying for heaved sidewalks. Then again, what about front-yard freedom? Meanwhile, Burnsville may begin allowing boulevard trees.
Good primer from the PiPress’s Tom Webb on why biodiesel lacks some of ethanol’s flaws. The context is the “off ramp” in the state’s biodiesel mandate, which goes from 2 percent to 20 percent over time. Requirements ease in cold months, and are waived if price differentials soar. “Biodiesel yields more energy, produces less pollution, and displaces more greenhouse gases” and avoids some of ethanol’s food-substitution problems. But soy’s rising price makes the oil byproduct less economical now.
The Minnesota Daily’s Emma Carew has been all over the U salaries beat, and today notes faculty wages rank middle-of-the-pack compared to peer schools. Including health and retirement bennies, the average U full professor makes $154,300; associate profs get $110,860 and assistant faculty reap $95,030.
The PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger notes good moods among Capitol budget negotiators, but Gov. Pawlenty left for the fishing opener examining special session dates. Probably just posturing. The regular session ends May 19.
AP reports that the 4 a.m. convention bar-closing bill passed. Gov. Pawlenty will sign the law, which cities can decide to implement.
Nort spews: the Twins coughed up one to the White Sox 6-2 but retain a one-game Central division lead over Chicago. Minnesota remains the division’s only plus-.500 team. Nice piece by the Strib’s Dennis Brackin on the U’s track coach who is going down to Division III St. Olaf. No controversy, just class acts all the way around.