Late-breaking: hoping to get a state budget agreement, DFL legislators proposed a 5.5 percent property tax hike cap, but Gov. Pawlenty blew that off as a fig leaf,the Strib’s Mark Brunswick and Mike Kaszuba report. Pawlenty countered with a figure as high as 3.9 percent, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher says.
More budget talks: The Mall of America subsidy package is being retooled in unspecified ways, the Strib notes. The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury says DFLers would “use health care access funds to back up using $50 million from a health plan reserve fund,” but only if Pawlenty signs the health care plan he recently vetoed. Both sides are ignoring Central Corridor light rail for now. More details from MPR’s Tom Scheck.
State Republicans have to be happy with Strib headline writers today. Bob Von Sternberg’s story says the GOP is booting the media from endorsing conventions more often than the DFL; the story lists a lone example where mainstream TV and radio were expelled: Michele Bachmann’s Sixth District GOP endorsing event. Yet the headline and subhed give no clue to the imbalance, and indeed list the DFL first. This is what Arianna Huffington meant when she was talking about artificial balance in town the other day.
More on expulsions: Sixth District Republicans dummy up when Von Sternberg asks for input, but there’s no evidence he talked to DFL officials in two listed congressional districts. If you surf to the Democrat-leaning Uptake, you can watch a Second District DFL official explain why they booted a Republican tracker: the person didn’t register, but would’ve been allowed to tape if he had. Meanwhile, GOP blogger Michael Brodkorb has twice promised video of DFL harassment, but hasn’t delivered. So let’s just call it a tie.
OK, Jesse Ventura I can maybe understand, but Harold LeVander and Elmer L. Andersen? Some vandal defaced three gubernatorial portraits at the Capitol yesterday. The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere says the weapon was a felt marker. The portraits hang on the Capitol’s ground floor, which has no security cams. Visiting school kids are blamed. Doesn’t sound like the damage is hard to fix, and one expert says there’s been no vandalism for 30 years.
The Strib’s David Shaffer writes that a high-ranking DNR official warned Commissioner Mark Holsten about a fishy state-supported game warden conference, but Holsten blew off his concerns. The state subsidized the event, but profits went to a conservation-officer association. Holsten says he doesn’t remember the conversation. The Legislative Auditor is investigating. Shaffer’s investigation got the whole thing going.
Protesters finally got a marching route to the Republican National Convention, but they’re still mad, the PiPress’s Jason Hoppin says. Demonstrators can only march from noon to 2 p.m. on Labor Day and are limited to the less visible Dorothy Day Center side. Still, Hoppin writes they’re getting as close to the convention site as any GOP protesters ever. But one protest organizer tells KARE that marchers will get “only one minute” to look at Xcel Energy Center and chant at an empty building.
More protesters: St. Paul’s Matt Bostrom complains protesters “won’t need a good arm” to hit Xcel Energy Center, but they’ll be 300 feet — a football field — away. St. Paul cops insist demonstrators seem cool, though the police union head tells Hoppin the march route is “a recipe for disaster.”
KSTP reports Mpls-St. Paul airport will test quicker security procedures at one entrance point beginning Friday. The “black-diamond” program creates separate lanes for expert travelers, casual travelers and families.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak paid his full speeding fine and can drive his Prius again, the Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith reports.
KSTP says more extensive milfoil poisoning will happen on Minnetonka this spring. You can’t swim for a few days or fish for a few weeks. The DNR says the herbicide kills milfoil for an entire season. It’s more expensive than harvesting.
WCCO has a good story on a student walkout at Minneapolis’ Washburn High School. They’re protesting mass teacher reassignments as the district “fresh starts” the school for academic underperformance. The kids in question seem pretty high-performing.
The Strib’s Dee DePass has an interesting piece on a Savage company that’s building the state’s first plastic-film recycling plant. The facility will chew through 8 million pounds of film per year, emitting pellets for plastic lumber. It’s mostly ag-bag film and garden-center waste, not your plastic shopping bags.
Finance & Commerce detailsthe upcoming Twin Cities Luxury Home Tour. One expert says demand has held steady in the upper 20 percent of the housing market. “History will prove that the summer of 2008 was the very best time to make a housing investment,” one developer brags, in typical developer fashion. Homes are priced at or over $1 million. There’s also a Spring Waterfront Home Tour in Minnetonka Sunday.
Also in F&C: a look at the Twin Cities’ first gay/lesbian/ bisexual/transgender senior housing co-op. It’s on Minneapolis’ Lake Street. Technically, the 41-unit project can’t discriminate against non-GLBTers and non-seniors, and it’s not clear how it will become group- and age-specific. There’s a 6,000-square-foot worship space included; a UCC church helped develop the site.
Another Strib editorial argues for stripping a MinnesotaCare expansion from the Legislature’s health-care bill. I think. Editorialists like the idea of getting 40,000 more people state health care but imply that dumping the provision is necessary to overcome Gov. Pawlenty’s veto.
Nort spews: The Twins are officially out of first place following a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays. The Strib’s John Millea offers his
second third story on school sports financing, focusing on seemingly prosperous Lakeville. Fees are up ($230 per athlete at the high school), and participation is down. The locals blame inconsistent state funding, and face a $1.1 million overall shortfall next year.