A huge win for St. Paul: Ford announced this morning that its local plant will stay open until 2011, a two-year extension, AP’s Tom Krisher reports. KARE says the plant still employs over 1,000 people, and Joe Kimball has St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s statement here.
Aaron Foster, the Corky Finney pal accused of the 1981 murder of Bobbi Winn, was exonerated by a Ramsey County jury. Former St. Paul Police Chief Finney’s mortal enemy, County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, reopened the case in 2006.”He’s going to murder another woman,” one outraged Winn family member cried out in court, according to the PiPress’s Emily Gurnon. Fox9’s Tom Lyden captures the emotions and gets a defense f-bomb. The Strib’s Pat Pheifer says medical examiners couldn’t determine a death cause and evidence was excluded.
The Strib’s David Chanen follows up on his Minneapolis-
police-discrimination scoop by asking, via frequent department antagonist Ron Edwards, whether Police Chief Tim Dolan and Civil Rights Department head Michael Jordan deserve their jobs. After all, their actions just cost the city $2 mil, the second-largest police-related settlement in city history. City officials talk around the question. Then again: MPR’s Brandt Williams terms the settlement agreement only “possible,” as the city is still meeting with its attorneys.
TCF Bank second-quarter profits fell 62 percent as loan non-payments rose, the Strib’s Mike Meyers reports. The number seems tiny — 0.9 percent of all consumer loans — but Meyers says that’s up almost 50 percent from the previous quarter and double last year’s pace. The bank charged off 1.7 percent of commercial loans, triple the previous year’s rate. Analysts say the bank is well run and doesn’t need to raise capital.
Although some commentators mock the Coleman campaign’s cringing “juicy porn” invocation in its most recent TV ad, the Strib headline spins it as “geniality” (jocularity, maybe). Why we need two dailies: The PiPress says the ad “goes for the jugular.” The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger writes that “the ad skirts the truth.” The ad claims Franken didn’t pay taxes when he paid them to the wrong states, and employees never went “without” insurance, though Franken didn’t pay workers’ comp bills.
Pro-business forces bought a full-page color ad on a Strib section front and PiPress back page to hit Al Franken over the union-card check issue. The ad repeats the falsehood about “eliminating the right to private votes” to unionize; Franken-supported legislation does strip management’s power to insist on a secret ballot over a more public card check-off. Sincere question: Without management’s insistence, would a secret ballot ever be used? Thoughts welcome in comments.
More Senate: A Rasmussen poll has Coleman up just 1 percentage point, 44-43 over Franken; Franken was ahead when leaners were counted. This poll has consistently pegged the race tighter than any other. No Independence Party candidate was included. The same polls has Obama up 12 over McCain in the state.
Hey d’ya hear Tim Pawlenty might be veep? The Strib’s Patricia Lopez writes that “national pundits worked themselves into a frenzy” over an off-hand positive McCain comment, but the distance is ironic: Strib editors put this one on the front page. The summer parlor game’s news, if any, is that Pawlenty now refuses to answer veep questions, which probably means McCain is vetting him — or that Jesse Ventura’s week-old record for higher-office coyness has already been eclipsed.
More Veep: Right on cue, McCain says this morning that no running-mate decision has been made, MPR’s Tom Scheck notes.
At the Strib’s Big Question blog, Kevin Diaz notes Michele Bachmann’s aircraft never touched down at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during her “Drill Here” tour. The problem: fog. Still, the congresswoman saw what she wanted to see.
A Republican-convention protest group says it will bust its permit and engage in civil disobedience on the meeting’s last day, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick reports. The Anti-War Committee says it won’t get violent, but will try to get attention as John McCain is accepting the nomination. By the way, the paper’s Rachel Stassen-Berger says President Bush will gain maximum separation by speaking on the first day.
KSTP’s Tim Sherno notes that there will be a protest-related defendant surge just as the state slashed public defender budgets. Ramsey County, which has lost 12 positions, could be overwhelmed. The system is already stressed; and one Greater Minnesota defendant faced a judge without counsel, a newly laid-off p.d. says. Via MPR’s Bob Collins, the Worthington Globe’s Julie Buntjer says state-shucked costs are already being pushed back on counties.
A Strib editorial comes out for lifting state salary caps for high-ranking local government employees, to retain top talent. They’re not necessarily for higher taxes; localities “will have to balance their budgets and answer to taxpayers and voters.”
Using a new law, the state busted Bemidji and Byron, Minn., pharmacies for recklessly filing online prescriptions. The Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith credits the family of a victim who overdosed on Bemidji pills for the legislation’s passage. Minnesota’s law penalizes pharmacists for filling prescriptions via online questionnaire. The pharmacies filled 3,100 and 4,500 prescriptions this way.
The Strib’s Liz Fedor quotes Northwest Airlines head Doug Steenland saying the Delta merger will close by year’s end. NWA stock soared 15 percent as oil prices fell, even though the airline lost $377 million in the second quarter. The PiPress’ John Welbes says schedule cuts begin Aug. 19 “as the summer travel season is winding down.” No cities will completely lose service, though circumstances could deepen cuts.
Corn prices, once over $8 a bushel, now stand at $5.50, the PiPress’ Tom Webb notes. Good weather, oil’s short-term slide and improving exchange rates are credited.
Bummer: Minneapolis’s Peace Corps office will close, just weeks after they moved into new digs, the Strib’s Emily Kaiser reports. The move helps save the cash-strapped Corps $1.5 million; the organization faces an $8.7 million deficit because of the weakening dollar. Local pols decry the move, but Dems just approved the president’s Corps budget.
Nort spews: The Twins will happily see Yankee Stadium blown up after being swept there; the 5-1 loss puts Minnesota two-and-a-half games back of Chicago, and just three ahead of the Tigers. Minnesota happily returns to the A.L. Central and a visit to Cleveland. Minnesota has ruled its division, but the Tribe is 7-3 in its last 10.