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Daily Glean: For Franken, Gore giveth, Planned Parenthood taketh away

By David BrauerThursday, June 5, 2008 In Thursday’s local news roundup, Al Franken gets an endorsement from Al Gore but a cold shoulder from Planned Parenthood. Also, how locals shake down GOP convention donors. And, a Confederacy of Dunces.

Al Franken is bleeding local support going into this weekend’s DFL convention. Now, Planned Parenthood says it would be “very difficult” for its political arm to endorse Al Franken if “even half the allegations” about his writings are true.The blog Checks and Balances reproduced the group’s email, reprinted here. The group’s legislative affairs director calls the pieces “misogynist.” Minor question: The group says they sent a (somewhat oblique) letter to the Strib; why hasn’t it been printed? It’s certainly newsworthy.

In better news for Franken, Al Gore “warmly” endorsed him, the Strib’s Patricia Lopez notes. Text is here. Gore touted Franken as among the Democrats’ “hardest working activists” — to be sure, Al’s fundraising and campaigning for others remains his biggest asset headed into this weekend. The story also notes that Franken’s opponent, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, picked up support from Amy Klobuchar’s 2006 campaign manager, Ben Goldfarb. Could be a plus headed into the convention.

To national conventions for a moment: The Strib’s Randy Furst and PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger have great rundowns how locals trade access for corporations cash. A George Washington University-affiliated nonprofit says host committees’ charitable status allows them to mask donors until after the events. Stassen-Berger offers great details on Gov. Pawlenty’s begging: who turned him down, and how he and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman basically elbowed out Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

The PiPress’ Megan Boldt says 85 percent of whites but just 39 percent of blacks graduated on time in Minnesota’s high school class of ’05. Local administrators say the Education Week stats don’t count transfers or students who take longer to graduate. For the class of ’07, the state says another 33 percent of blacks still are working toward a degree, but the four-year grad rate is 16 points below national averages. The Strib’s headline: “Minnesota’s graduation rate is among highest in the nation.”

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Nice frame from the PiPress’s Dave Orrick: “Faced with the choice of killing park­ing or killing traffic on University Avenue, St. Paul City Council Member Russ Stark on Wednesday evening said kill the traffic.” Stark is proposing a two-lane road to preserve parking, but could it really function anytime someone has to parallel park? Haters aren’t quoted.

MPR’s Brandt Williams checks in with a Day Two piece on the Winona bridge closure. Five hundred Winona State summer students who commute from Wisconsin are seriously screwed by the one-hour detour; the Strib’s Jim Foti and Mary Lynn Smith say a river ferry is in the works.

Yuck — Minnesota Monitor’s Chris Steller reports that Lake Calhoun received junk from an illegal Minnekhada Club sewer line. The pipe may have been the source of a “mysterious milky-white substance that showed up in the lake April 29. The pipe has since been disconnected.

Alert Lou Dobbs! The PiPress’s David Hanners offers up an interesting discrimination suit: Plaintiffs allege a downtown St. Paul McDonald’s owner hires “Mexicans from Mexico,” not “Mexicans from America” because the latter quit. The state’s Chicano Latino Affairs Council has never heard of such a suit, and the defendant denies the allegations. One plaintiff said an interviewer asked him where he was born, then gave him the discriminatory news.

A progressive Minnesota think tank says the state’s economy has slipped as its tax rankings have fallen, the Strib’s Pat Doyle reports. Minnesota 2020 tracked government spending per $1,000 of income from 1995 to 2006; Minnesota fell from 10th to 29th in national rankings, but growth was sluggish. What’s striking is the Pawlenty administration’s response: The group “has no credibility.” None? It’s very Scott McClellan-like — old Scott McClellan.

The PiPress’s Tad Vezner writes that the St. Paul City Council unanimously introduced standards for 4 a.m. bar-time during the convention: Bars must be in the downtown or com­mercial districts, or have “at least 291 seats.” Some slightly smaller venues, like Billy’s On Grand, aren’t happy. Over in Minneapolis, the Strib’s Anthony notes that outside of downtown, the City Council might limit longer hours to hotel bars.

A day late, the PiPress has a story on JoAnn Syverson, the Eden Prairie teacher and Iraq War mom who introduced Barack Obama Tuesday. The neat factor: The ex-Republican is a U speech instructor who teaches folks to overcome stage fright. “I wasn’t nervous before, and I wasn’t nervous during,” she says, but broke out in a sweat after. What’d she say? Paul Tosto’s story is skinny on details, but you can read the speech here. Her son was stop-lossed and is now on his second Army tour.

The Strib’s Bob von Sternberg surveys local blacks on Obama’s nomination. A lachrymose mom lets her 8-year-old son stay up to watch a “brown” man claim the presidential nomination; a St. Paul teacher calls it “the best thing that has happened to this country for a long time — maybe all time.” However, a 35-year-old student observes that changing the political system requires more than one man.

For what it’s worth, the PiPress’s Mara Gottfried reports that 19,583 people were in Xcel for Obama’s speech. The number bandied yesterday was 17,000. Cops arrested just two people inside the hall — drunk guys trying to rip restricted-area wristbands off people. Bloomington sent 17 cops to get the lay of the land for the GOP convention in three months.

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The PiPress’s Tom Webb says given Obamamania, Minnesota would rather have the Democratic National Convention than the GOP event. But Republicans asked first. He notes that “more than 2 million Web sites mention the words ‘Democrat 2008 convention Denver’ ” — nearly 10 times more than GOP convention references.

Why Norm Coleman is an astute politician: He’s going to Detroit to lobby for continued manufacture of light trucks at St. Paul’s Ford plant, writes AP’s Frederic Frommer. Ford says closure plans haven’t changed, according to the Strib’s Kevin Diaz and Emily Kaiser. But it’s a timely contrast to Franken’s porn troubles.

Today’s hot button: Three Bloomington high schoolers are banned from graduation for waving the Confederate flag in a parking lot. They didn’t know the racial connotations, one mom tells the PiPress’s John Brewer, providing further evidence that graduation might not be appropriate. However, administrators say one boy had been previously suspended for the same violation. They’ll still get their diplomas. The Strib’s Patrice Relerford says the courts have upheld such suspensions. The ACLU tells parents to abandon hope.

The Strib’s Sarah Lemagie offers up a fascinating piece on a Minneapolis “do-gooder” who feds say is a drug dealer. Chiffon Williams is a single mom of 10, helps the homeless and (perhaps ironically) supports neighborhood anti-crime efforts. Police say her tidy home is a stash house for crack cocaine, Ecstasy and pot “pumped” into the neighborhood. She’s had legal run-ins, and so have her sons, but some neighborhood activists support her. She denies the charges.

Remember the guy who was going to parachute from a plane 100 times in 24 hours to raise money for fighting Parkinson’s Disease? WCCO has video of it here.

Nort Spews: Joe Mauer and Carlos Gomez connected for an ultra-rare two-run sac fly; Joe hit it, GoGo legged it from second after a fielder slipped as the Twins beat Baltimore 7-5. Mauer also hit his second dinger. Sore Loser here.