Sen. John McCain’s visit — for a town hall meeting and a fundraiser — was the major story of the day across the media spectrum. In the words of the PiPress, McCain held “an intimate conversation” with about 200 people at St. Paul’s Landmark Center. He was, of course, asked whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty would be his choice as a running mate and, as the governor blushed, McCain dodged.
The Landmark Center visit was about getting media attention. Another Twin Cities stop, at the Hilton Hotel, was about cash. The McCain campaign was not saying how much was raised, though certainly he lags behind Barack Obama mightily in fundraising in Minnesota. The Strib published a fascinating Federal Elections Commission map showing, by zipcode, where Obama has raised his $1.6 million and McCain his $532,694 in Minnesota.
The Twin Cities has made another of those Top 10 lists that we’re usually so proud of. But there won’t be much pride about our ranking this time. The Strib’s Dan Browning reports that the FBI is rating the Twin Cities in its top 10 hotbeds of mortgage fraud cases. No reason given for why the mortgage crooks have found the region so fruitful, but the feds currently have 40 investigations underway in the region.
Everybody is talking about the weather, but there was an interesting juxtaposition of weather-related chatter on WCCO-TV. University of Minnesota geologist Chris Paola talked to Jason DeRusha about how modifications in the land – replacing wetlands with cornfields, etc. – have worsened flooding. That report was followed by a news story of a White House report Thursday stating that Midwest flooding is linked to human-caused global warming. A few minutes later, WCCO’s Mike Fairbourne was on the air. Fairbourne, you may recall, is among flat-earthers who claim that the human touch in global warming is based on “squishy science.” He kept his thoughts to himself during his weather report. By the way, Strib outdoor writer Dennis Anderson had a thoughtful column about how land-use has helped set the stage for flooding.
Four dollar a gallon gasoline – and how to avoid it – remains a major news topic. reported how a solar-powered car that had been traveling across the country was stopped, by red tape, in Stillwater. Police insisted that the solar-folks get a different escort vehicle before driving on state roads. Meantime, KARE-TV had a report of increasing sales of a Minnesota-built electric vehicle. WCCO-TV reported that Schwan Foods has been delivering its products in propane-fueled trucks since the gas crisis of the 1970s. And the Pi-Press reported that Metro Transit ridership is up 8.6 per cent from a year ago.
On the subject of energy and where to find it, MPR raised questions about whether it was economically and environmentally feasible to harvest bio-mass for fuel from forests.
Minneapolis and St. Paul, the twins that work so hard at getting along, may have a spat over which city ends up with a Microsoft development office. The Pi Press reports that though the office is small – just 70 employees – it is Microsoft’s first software development office in the region. A site in downtown St. Paul and two sites in Northeast Minneapolis are being scouted, with the winner expected to be announced in a few weeks.
In the lost and found department: The Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith has a follow-up story about Gaylord’s Abby Flantz and Erica Nelson of Las Vegas and their overnight trip in the Alaskan wilderness that ended up lasting six grueling days. The women survived on Granola bar crumbs, rainwater, prayer and the conviction that at any moment they’d find their way. The search for the two women, which ended Wednesday, likely will cost about $120,000.
You’re going to have to pay a hefty price – beyond the entrance fee – to run in Grandma’s Marathon along the North Shore tomorrow. The Strib’s Paul Levy writes that Duluth hotels are charging as much as $500 a night this weekend. Just to make sure the gouging really hurts, the hotels are insisting on two nights lodging.
Do the Washington Nationals really have to leave town? The Twins completed a three-game sweep over the squad that has maintained Washington’s tradition of really lousy baseball teams with a 9-3 victory Thursday afternoon. Check out the Washington Post view of the game and the Young family reunion. Next up for the Twins, the Arizona Diamondbacks.