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Daily Glean: Andy Rooney gets the last laugh on Al Franken

By David Brauer | Friday, June 6, 2008 In Friday’s eve-of-state-DFL-convention edition, Al Franken learns not to mess with “60 Minutes.” You’ll get all the offensiveness updates in far less time.

The latest on the Al Franken offensiveness front? Republicans attack a “Saturday Night Live” sketch idea where Andy Rooney considers raping Lesley Stahl. Two swing-district DFL women legislators take offense. DFL Congresswoman Betty McCollum piles on. DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar says Franken must address past inappropriateness “head on.” Franken acknowledges inappropriate comments and expresses regret. A “left-leaning group” tries to change the subject by asserting Norm Coleman is an oil whore.

It’s quite the scene-setter for today’s state DFL convention opener. (The Senate endorsement is tomorrow.) The PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger says Franken has a delegate lead. The Strib’s Lori Sturdevant calls Franken a “besieged” candidate who can’t merely attack Coleman on issues. Instead, he should speak of “forsaking … lowest-common denominator culture … in favor of another, more noble one.”

Still, the charges fly: The Strib quotes Franken asserting Coleman hasn’t represented women well; Sturdevant has him saying “You know what’s obscene? It’s the mother in Fergus Falls who has to share her insulin with her 23-year-old son because they both have diabetes, and he can’t afford health insurance.” Coleman’s attack-ad riposte: “While Al Franken was joking about raping women … I was in the Minnesota attorney general’s office working to throw rapists behind bars.”

More convention: Stassen-Berger reports that Franken opponent Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has seasoned convention organizer Erik Peterson running convention efforts; Franken is using DFL stalwart Jim Niland. MPR’s Mark Zdechlik has a nice report on Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer campaigning.

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Channeling Congressional Quarterly, MPR’s Tom Scheck notes that 16 of 30 conservative congressional Democratic “Blue Dogs” haven’t endorsed Obama, including our own Collin Peterson.

The PiPress’s Tad Vezner says St. Paul police apologized for arresting an anti-war protester leafletting outside Obamamania Tuesday. The ACLU says Mick Kelly was arrested for ticket scalping. Problem: there were no tickets. The cops say the bogus charge was peddling. The cops made the bust as the ACLU’s general counsel stood nearby. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says it’s not a troubling portent, the Strib’s Pat Pheifer and Randy Furst note.

But what about defendants without an attorney in close proximity? The state public defender system will lose 15 percent of its lawyers, KSTP notes. Annual caseloads will surge from 714 annually — already three per day — to over 800. All told, 72 of 441 full-time-equivalent positions disappear. Curiously, Strib headline writers underplay the carnage, highlighting the 23 attorneys who will be laid off. Child protection and parental rights cases will be axed because they’re not constitutionally guaranteed.

Target same-store sales slipped 0.7 percent in May, the Strib’s Jackie Crosby reports. Wal-Mart sales rose nearly 4 percent, in part because they’re more successfully ripping off Target’s brand strategy. The Arkansas retailer has “merchandising momentum” over the home team; the details are fascinating. PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah adds that Target predicts June sales could drop as much as 2 percent.

The PiPress’s Jennifer Bjorhus says the state’s economy grew slightly more than the nation’s last year — 2.2 percent versus 2 percent. Both figures are inflation-adjusted. Wet-blanket state economist Tom Stinson calls it a “dead-cat bounce,” and says we should be growing 3 percent. Manufacturing and agriculture helped, but surprisingly, so did real estate commissions. Remember, this is the whole year, and the slump accelerated at the end.

Amid tough times, people nationwide are dumping pets on shelters — but not in the Twin Cities, WCCO’s Lisa Kiava reports. In fact, the Animal Humane Society’s Golden Valley site wants the state’s crowded rural shelters to send them animals for adoption.

Troubling sign of the times: Meals on Wheels in Anoka County is dead. High fuel prices are a problem, KARE’s Scott Goldberg says, but a bigger one is a 40 percent cut in government funding. Seventy households lose “what is, in many cases, their only true meal of the day.” They probably won’t be the last.

On the flip, federal and corporate money mean that this summer, three North Minneapolis public schools can feed parents, not just kids, KSTP’s Colleen Mahoney reports. A $15,000 private donation means families qualifying for free and reduced-price meals get breakfast and lunch together. It’ll help build family and school bonds.

The PiPress’s Dave Orrick says St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has created a centralized department of “economic justice” to spread more city contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses. He’ll also expand the Human Rights Commission. Mega-contractor Kraus Anderson was on hand. In 2007, fewer than 7 percent of contracts went to female-owned firms, and a paltry 0.3 percent went to black-owned ones.

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The Strib’s Steve Brandt notes that the ex-Minneapolis school board member who owed $29,000 in unpaid health-insurance premiums will fork over $18,000 to settle. That assumes Audrey Johnson pays by the end of the month.

Finance & Commerce’s Bob Geiger says Hennepin County now uses 100 percent recycled paper for all its copiers and printers. It doesn’t cost more than the virgin kind. Twenty-five local cities and four counties also buy through Mother Hennepin.

The Strib’s Patrick Lee crafts an incredible tale of a man who survived 20 stab wounds after a home break-in. After hearing one criminal say “you gotta be a man, you gotta kill him,” Paul Traub was stabbed 17 times in the back, saved only because the knife tip first broke off in his skull. (It’s still there, too dangerous to remove.) When Traub came to, he discovered his mattress on fire. He escaped, and the perps are uncaught.

It isn’t often a murderer gets to renegotiate a plea deal, but Cortney Saffold was able to wipe off 20 years of probation, the Strib’s Rochelle Olson writes. He’ll still serve 20 years for being a double-murder accomplice. But he’d have faced another two decades had he violated his probation. His leverage? Testifying against an alleged partner in a 2007 double murder. Saffold could be out in 11 years, his lawyer says. Prosecutors aren’t talking.

I’m feeling old: R.E.M. only drew 6,000 fans to the X last night. The PiPress’s Ross Raihala blames stinky recent albums but calls the concert “potent.” He and the Strib’s Jon Bream note Michael Stipe repeatedly name-checked Barack Obama.

Nort spews: Twin dump the second of three home games to the sorry Orioles, 3-2. They’re two-and-a-half back of Chicago.