Daily Glean: Minneapolis: now 27 percent safer!

Minneapolis violent-crime rates fell 14 percent for 2008’s first six months over 2007; violent crime is down 27 percent from 2006. The Strib’s Abby Simons notes that murders fell from 32 in 2006 to 18 this year, but every major crime category was down, almost all by double-digits. Authorities credit targeted juvenile enforcement and more cops. Only quibble: 2006 was a peak year; the Strib’s new InfoCenter should have longer-term charting, though there’s an interesting murder map here.

Related: The public-safety budget picture is not so great in Greater Minnesota; Minnesota 2020’s Carrie Beck looks at how outstate cities’ public-safety expenditures have fallen since 2003’s local-government aid cuts.

Via Metroblogging’s Erica M., three Minnesota same-sex couples will sue the state for equal civil-marriage rights. They’ll be represented by a “name” firm, Mansfield, Tanick and Cohen, and are looking for couples to join the legal effort. The state has an anti-gay marriage DOMA law, and the Supreme Court is studded with Pawlentians, but given verdicts in other states, it’s probably worth a try.

Al Franken unveiled a tax plan Monday, which the Strib inexplicably buried behind its second consecutive Xcel Center reconfiguration section-fronter. (Folks, it’s not that interesting.) According to MPR’s Mark Zdechlik, a $6.5 billion plan would cover a third of child costs for people making $100,000 or less, and a $2,000 credit for families taking care of sick relatives. The Strib’s Patricia Lopez says Franken would create mobile “401Us” with a capped 30-pecent government match of each retirement-savings dollar; it’s allegedly revenue-neutral.

More Franken: He refuses to debate DFL primary opponent Priscilla Lord Faris, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere reports, noting 17 pre-endorsement debates and a focus on Norm Coleman. In the waning days of the DFL endorsement fight, Franken stayed away from head-to-head meetings with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

Third District GOP congressional hopeful Erik Paulsen criticized fellow Republican John McCain for offering a “blank check” on Iraq, reports the D.C. publication The Hill via MPR’s Tom Scheck. Scheck notes Paulsen still has no statements about Iraq on his campaign website.

Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko keeps banging away at the ongoing problems finding cops to patrol the Republican National Convention. The latest: The St. Paul P.D. claims 40 officers from the state’s Gang Strike Force are on board. Problem: The unit has only 33 officers, and they haven’t signed on. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried and Dave Orrick say the effort is 600 officers short, though some departments are sending a bigger force than listed.

Related: The U.S. Justice Department wants to counsel convention protesters and cops, the Strib’s Randy Furst reports. The new scariest words in the English language: “We’re from the Bush Administration and we’re here to help.” St. Paul cops are down with the plan, but two protest groups are not. I believe this is the same Justice Department unit that’s mediated dealings with Minneapolis activists and cops, to the activists’ general satisfaction.

Minnesota Monthly’s Michael Tortorello has an in-depth profile of an enigmatic Tim Pawlenty.Even the closest of Pawlenty watchers will learn something new from the profile,” gushes MPR’s Scheck.

UnitedHealth Group’s second-quarter net income plummeted from $1.23 billion in ’07 to $233 million this year, AP says. That’s a bit above analysts’ expectations. Meanwhile, Oakdale-based Imation posted strong results.

The city of St. Paul declares it won’t use tax breaks to lure businesses downtown, writes the PiPress’s Dave Orrick. (Things like the Lawson Software deal are “so passe,” Orrick quips.) Instead, a public-private partnership will offer specialized spiffs such as commercial real-estate searches that businesses would otherwise pay for. There’s also talk of “streamlining” the city’s permit processes.

Uuuuuunion! Two Starbucks Mall of America employees staged a brief work stoppage yesterday, writes the PiPress’s Julie Forster. They were protesting how the shrinking coffee giant treats laid-off colleagues. The Strib’s Matt McKinney notes that a worker “laid off last week for union activities” says his fellows will join the International Workers of the World, aka the “Wobblies.” They claim to represent 200 Starbucks baristas, Forster notes; the company has drawn federal union-busting sanctions.

Tom Petters may have $2.2 billion in sales, but he’s screwing magazine workers out of back pay and accrued vacation, writes the Strib’s Chris Serres. Petters acquired Metropolitan Media Group last week and renamed it, which somehow lets him ding 26-year-old grunt-workers of $2,800 in just compensation. “Under the business plan [paying up] was just not something we were able to do,” says a spokester. Several employee/punishment-gluttons were offered new jobs, but no back pay. Lawsuits are possible.

I thought this was a misprint, but a “Fire Arts” center is opening in south Minneapolis. No, it’s not about coal-walking, but, writes Southside Pride’s Dennis Geisinger, a place for “sculptural welding, blacksmithing, foundry, jewelry-making, enameling, glassworking, neon, electronics/LED, and fire performance.” So maybe there will be coal dancing! The 38th & Chicago center is an Artspace project.

On a grander scale, Guthrie attendance was up by a quarter, or 80,000 theatergoers, in the first full year at the new megacomplex. The Strib’s Graydon Royce reports theater income was also up 25 percent, and there was a tiny budget surplus. Performances rose by a third, but the economy produced a tiny dip in subscribers and a 5 percent endowment drop.

If there’s going to be a Planetarium above Hennepin County’s downtown Minneapolis library, the city will have to pony up, the Strib’s Steve Brandt writes. The “cash-strapped” burg would have to help fund a $563,000 to $622,000 subsidy over the Planetarium’s first five years. A downtown developer floats the notion of putting the Planetarium above his project.

A PiPress editorial decrying juror per-diem cuts notes that the feds pay $40 a day for listening to their trials; Minnesota will soon pay $10. That “may not even cover parking” for a role that “should be treated with the utmost respect.” Editorialists wonder if this particular cut was made to get public attention, but with public defenders being beheaded, the pain needs to be spread.

Are you ready for electric boats? The PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah says battery-powered outboards are the aqua version of hybrid cars. Travelers Co. will cut your insurance 10 percent for buying one. Big downside: They cost 20 percent more, though payback is two years at current prices. The real crippler for the speed set: They don’t go faster than 10 mph.

Good thing: U researchers say the state can meet its ambitious greenhouse-gas emission-reduction goals, a relief since it’s the law. According to MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill, we’ll need cleaner fuel, cleaner vehicles and transportation choices. Car-wise, the state will need to tax guzzlers and rebate sippers, plus get more fuel from renewables like biomass (where Sweden gets a third of its juice). No price tag, though.

Freak beat: Police rescued 29 Taiwanese fighting cocks from an East Bethel ring and found 25 people watching the avian blood sport. (Video here.) An Eagan doctor has sex with two patients, including one for over 20 years; loses license.

Nort spews: The Yanks walloped the Twins 12-4; Minnesota remains a half-game out of first, but now is only a game up on New York in the wild-card standings. (Minnesota is two back of Boston.) Minnesota falls to 11-18 against the A.L.’s top five clubs. A bit of football fun from Fox9: Brett Favre on SI’s cover in a resplendent purple Vikings jersey. Darryl Strawberry returns for a Saints appearance.

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