Note: don’t freak! We’re putting all the Obama stuff in a separate post about the St. Paul rally, so here’s the rest of the local news you may have overlooked in the glare of the mega-media event.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson won’t face a full-scale legislative auditor investigation — on a technicality, methinks. Her alleged misdeeds — pressuring subordinates to file cases for publicity, not legal, reasons — didn’t involve public purse, AP reports. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles typically gets great press, but this shows the limits of the office; he’s not the state’s chief prosecutor. Nobles noted that no unethical actions resulted; in effect, the afflicted attorneys’ ability to stand up to Swanson may have helped get her off the hook.
More Swanson: The daily editorial pages offer a split verdict. The PiPress repeatedly notes that Nobles’ investigation was “narrow,” and doesn’t “end the conversation about how well the Attorney General’s office is running.” Still, “conflict in a hard-driving workplace is inevitable” and Swanson “knows the difference” between “conflict and misconduct.” The Strib says “Minnesotans deserve better” and the findings “are not the exoneration that Swanson’s office portrays them to be.” The editorial dings her for managing a staff “who feel more comfortable talking to bloggers or reporters.”
Yesterday, the story was Priuses being in short supply; today, it’s Ford Rangers. The PiPress’s John Welbes reports
that the St. Paul-made truck’s sales were down 25 percent in May —
because they couldn’t make ’em fast enough. Surging demand for the
small truck has reduced inventory, and the local plant — slated to be
mothballed — might add Saturday shifts to its current five-day,
10-hour-a-day schedule. Is there a chance the plant could be saved? The
union says Ford will fine-tuned its restructuring plan this summer.
AP reports that MnDOT closed another bridge. The 67-year-old span, over the Mississippi River at Winona, has rusted and corroded gusset plates and will stay shuttered during peak driving season. A MnDOT official calls it “clearly a precautionary measure.” The nearest open bridges are 25 and 35 miles away. “With gas prices, it’s going to be tough,” says one commuter, but it’s “better than falling into the river.” Minnesota Monitor’s Chris Steller notes that Minnesota’s new 150th birthday stamp features the bridge.
MPR’s Sea Stachura says UC-Berkeley structural engineering expert has determined that heavy construction materials and pavement brought down the I-35W bridge.
Professor Hassan Astaneh has been a favorite PiPress source, and he’s
not* affiliated with the National Transportation Safety Board. (Note: original post left out the word “not.”)
Fascinating feature from City Pages’ Jonathan Kaminsky on debt collectors’ worst nightmare: a Minneapolis attorney who successfully sues the financial bounty hunters. Tough-talking, linebacker-like lawyer Pete Barry is a terrific main character, but the story’s surprising lure is a history of debt-collection regulation, including a not-very-flattering look at Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who comes off here as the collector’s friend. Didja know? The debt collectors’ trade group is headquartered in Edina.
File this one away: the Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Rich Broderick says ex-Gov. Jesse Ventura is “all but certain” to run for U.S. Senate. Broderick, a St. Paul activist, former third-party endorsed candidate and longtime writer/journalist, cites sources close to the former guv.
A little mercury? Like lemon, say state officials, who “slightly” raised fish-consumption limits from Minnesota rivers and lakes, the PiPress’s Dennis Lein notes. The state has once-a-week and once-a-month categories; now you can enjoy both in a given time period, a state health department researcher says. No mercury-loathing environmentalists are quoted. The state has also begun issuing advisories for PFOS, an ultra-persistent 3M chemical that’s contaminated east-metro water supplies.
For you meat-eaters, the Strib goes nuts — front-page Metro — with news that Manny’s Steakhouse is moving five blocks from the Hyatt Regency to the revamped Foshay Tower. Guess we know where Strib executives eat. The move to the downtown core happens in August, Rick Nelson reports.
Schoolkid’s dream; parents’ nightmare: The Strib’s Norman Draper says Brooklyn Center whacked the last three days of its school year for budgetary reasons.
Although news to readers, Draper says the school board made the change
April 14 and let parents know. The move saves $120,000 in overtime;
teachers are trained during their regular schedules instead of the
summer. There will be some in-school daycare, and the state ed
department signed off on the 171-day schedule.
Remember that SUV that crashed into a Stillwater river two months ago, killing two? Turns out the driver mistakenly stepped on the gas instead of the brake pedal, the PiPress’s Mary Divine reports. Investigators say no alcohol or drugs were involved; the four natives of India had rented a car for a sightseeing trip. A Stillwater cop says its “one of the saddest cases” he’s ever seen.
The PiPress’s Dave Hanners says the man accused of the May 4 rape near the U tried to commit suicide two days later. Edward Karls wound up in a mental-health unit before he was arrested for the crime; he was released from prison just six days before the crime. Now charged, Karls had bail set at $150,000, though prosecutors are trying to get that eliminated.
Nort spews: Terrific lead from the PiPress’s Phil Miller — “Barack Obama outdrew the Twins on Tuesday night, which figures. Obama held a rally. The Twins didn’t.” Minnesota lost 5-3 to Baltimore, falling a game and a half back of the White Sox. But the Lynx continued their WNBA rampage, moving to 5-0 after defeating Atlanta 85-81.