A day after a more hands-off report, WCCO’s Pat Kessler nails U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman on the union “secret ballot” initiative. Coleman claims an Al Franken-backed plan would eliminate such union-recognition ballots by allowing a public “card check.” Turns out Coleman backed the idea as St. Paul mayor. Coleman’s spokesperson says the difference is this is federal law, not a city request to businesses. Franken calls Coleman “shameless.” Last week, Kessler judged the secret-ballot attack “false.”
Will there be enough local cops for the Republican National Convention? Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko has his doubts. The event needs 3,000-4,000 local cops, and many departments have not formalized their commitment. Money is a concern; the Justice Department must sign off and hasn’t. Also a $10 million liability fund may not be enough to cover everyone. Great context: Minnesota has 10,300 licensed officers, meaning if recruitment goals are met, 30-40 percent will work the convention.
The Dome’s landlord unveiled an $853 million concept plan for a new Vikings stadium — it’s $100 million less than the Vikes’ earlier plan, the Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada reports. The plan would re-use the Dome’s foundation, twist the field 90 degrees, and encase everything in a glassy retractable covering. MinnPost’s Jay Weiner, who broke the story, says the Vikes reps were “subdued” but seemed pleased by any movement. The price seems like an educated guess. No, there’s no way to pay for it.
A man arrested for allegedly killing a 90-year-old Hopkins woman had been released from prison for first-degree aggravated robbery in March, the PiPress’s Mara Gottfried Rhoda Fukushima reports. Corey Omar Posley-Wells, 27, was visiting someone else in Mary Kunze’s building. There’s no indication Posley-Wells’ six-year sentence for the robbery was light; he seems to have served the whole thing. Remember, most prisoners get out sometime.
Fairview Health Services may drop out of the Blue Cross provider network, the Strib’s Chen May Yee reports. It’s a battle over price; Blue Cross members could begin paying out-of-network rates Aug. 23. Yee says such down-to-the-wire standoffs are rare, and notes Blue Cross is the state’s biggest health insurer while Fairview is the third-biggest hospital clinic group. Blue Cross says Fairview’s prices are beyond market, but Medica just signed a similar deal.
MPR’s Tim Nelson probes a publicly subsidized bioscience incubator gone bad. The University Enterprise Laboratories opened in 2004, but just laid off its staff and “shelved its mission.” Rivals elsewhere — including the U itself, and massive out-of-state programs — punished the center. Former St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly was a big backer; now, the city is on the hook for $7 million in project financing.
The state will cut juror pay from $20 a day to $10, the PiPress’s Brady Gervais writes. It’s a $1.1 million savings for a courts system cut in this year’s budget deal. A $40-$50 daycare and 27-cents-per-mile reimbursements are preserved. A few years ago, jurors got $30 a day; $10 is below the national average. Employers don’t have to pay sitting jurors.
The St. Paul Public Libraries may charge for DVD rentals. The PiPress’s Dave Orrick says the 50-cent-to-a-buck upcharge is so the system can buy more DVDs. Orrick notes that in 2006, 13 percent of St. Paul’s acquisitions budget went for DVDs, which represented a quarter of all checked-out items. (Possible typo: the story says $20,000 is spent buying DVDs out of a $1.6 million acquisitions budget; that’s 1.25 percent.) Ramsey County libraries charge 50 cents a day, while Minneapolis charges nothing.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate ticked down two-tenths of a percent in June, to 5.3 percent. That’s below the nation’s 5.5 percent rate. MPR’s Martin Moylan says the state added 3,400 jobs last month, and is up 1,900 for the year while the nation is down 400,000. News Cut’s Bob Collins waxes sanguine about the numbers.
The state may give its top pension guy a big raise — from $144,000 to $195,000-$295,000, the Strib’s Pat Doyle reports. Howard Bicker does manage $63 billion in public employee pension assets; Bicker says the raise would only move him to the middle of state pension chiefs. A legislative commission considers the raise, and then the state’s top constitutional officers set the salary.
Since it’s become a bellweather of an area’s economic vitality (or yuppiedom), we’ll cover the latest Starbucks closings. The company has released a full list of shutterings; lots of Blaine, Brooklyn Center and Coon Rapids, plus a northeast Minneapolis locale.
People keep clamoring for something different in political ads; Independence Party U.S. Senate hopeful Jack Uldrich is giving it to them: a 2 minute, 42 second ad asserting a negative view of Americans — only to be redeemed at the end. Uldrich spent $500 on the web-only ad, writes the PiPress’s Dennis Lien.
The “pedal pub” — a newly legal way to drink and exercise. The Strib’s Tom Horgan has a fun piece on the multi-person mobile intoxicator’s folkways and effective legislative lobbying.
Waiting for an iPhone? You can find the names of everyone else in the queue, according to City Pages’ tech guru Jeff Shaw. Shaw says if you plug in receipt info, ATT’s site will disgorge everyone else’s identity. Sorry, only iPhone buyers can play.
Freak beat: A KTLK talk show host plays bush league Don Imus with anti-lesbian WNBA comments. A Russian restaurateur bearing a “tall stack of $100 bills” unsuccessfully tried to bribe away a Dakota County traffic arrest. A Minnetonka Realtor steals pain meds from clients.
Nort spews: The Twins are finally back in action tonight; Francisco Liriano’s agent claims the Twins are keeping his guy in the minors to delay free agency. Minnesota’s response: why’d we call him up in April, writes the PiPress’s Kelsie Smith. The Lynx lose 96-88 to Houston; they’re 10-11 but are tied for the final Western Conference playoff spot, if I read the WNBA standings right.