The Strib’s Rodrigo Zamith and Paul Walsh detail why Minneapolis water stinks right now. Too much Mississippi River algae and leaves, officials say, and they’ve upped chemical and carbon treatments. Interestingly, St. Paul hasn’t had the problem because they filter water through four lakes before technology gets it; Minneapolis draws directly. St. Paul’s water guy says his city can spend on taste while Minneapolis must emphasize treatment. The problem punches a big hole in Mayor R.T. Rybak’s anti-bottled-water campaign.
John McCain was in town, proclaiming Minnesota a battleground state even though the polls don’t show it and McCain’s new “Love” ad is in every contestable place but here. MPR’s Tom Scheck notes DFL Blue Dog Congressman Collin Peterson — never a Dem attack dog — slammed McCain, “who never met an ag bill that he could support.” McCain pokes right back, nailing the Peterson-crafted bill for subsidizing thoroughbred race horses $93 million and asparagus growers $15 million. KARE has video here.
MPR’s Mark Zdechlik notes Norm Coleman and Al Franken each raised about $2.3 million from April to June; Coleman’s sitting on $3 million more in cash, at $7.2 million. The duo has now raised $27 million combined for negative ads, plus a few treacly positive ones. One prof says Franken’s spending too much raising cash; Frankenfolk say they’re building a broad donor base that’s re-tappable in October.
The Strib’s Steve Brandt offers a rather jolly look at ex-Minneapolis City Councilmember Dean Zimmermann’s return from prison. Z’s 55-pound-weight loss is celebrated; he was a “relentless rat-catcher in the prison kitchen,” and the family has pondered his return to politics. Zimmermann was convicted of illicitly taking developer cash. He’s a jovial and unpretentious guy — returning to handyman work — but some Strib commenters think much more finger-wagging was needed.
AP’s Brian Bakst notes that a builder tarred in the 35W bridge collapse is helping finish the replacement. It was Progressive Contracting’s materials on the bridge when it collapsed; MnDOT’s new commissioner has questioned PCI’s load-placement, though other causes were definitely present. Archly, a lawyer for bridge victims says he’s happy PCI is paving and installing highways barriers because profits he’ll attach the $3.6 million contract if he wins a lawsuit. PCI could still sue the state.
I tend to ignore Pawlenty-for-veep stories because they are so numerous and so few advance the ball. But the PiPress’s Bill Salisbury unearths an interesting tidbit: the guv says the McCain campaign isn’t vetting him. They haven’t asked him for docs. An elaborate feint? Who knows? But this is a very nuts-and-bolts indicator, so kudos to Political Animal.
On the RNC protest beat, the PiPress’s Emily Gurnon says Ramsey County courts are planning round-the-clock schedules if arrests are massive. The accused will be hauled to Maplewood; there would be no pretrail hearings. “One judge said, ‘Put me down for the midnight shift,'” the county’s chief jurist recounts. Costs are harder to figure; judges don’t get overtime, but court personnel do.
The PiPress’s Tom Webb writes that local corporations have kicked in 60 percent of the GOP convention funds — more than the 50/50 national split. Even so, money wrangler Stanley Hubbard complains that “Corporate Minnesota” wasn’t more generous; some locals grumble about the ambitious $58 million fundraising goal. Webb says “not a single” local company mentioned partisan politics, but all have federal interests. Minnesota Independent ran a great piece on the subject two weeks ago.
At Politics in Minnesota, Sarah Janecek asserts that daily newspaper editorials no longer influence state politics. Disclaimer: I apparently ignited this with something I wrote Monday. Then there was a kerfuffle (see comments), and people reacted. Janecek backs me, but all journalists must face her question: Do we make any difference? Janecek times the influence wane to 2005, and blames the editorials’ unsigned nature, plus more alternatives. She wants to know if people agree, and that’s a discussion to watch.
Perhaps trying to prove Janecek wrong, Strib outdoors curmudgeon Dennis Anderson slams a ballyhooed statewide conservation/preservation plan because it “fails to lay bare the most fundamental, and politically dicey, obstacles needed to be overcome before meaningful conservation progress can occur.” These are Minnesotans’ “unchecked avarice” for profiteering ahead of conservation, and no leadership. It won’t change until people vote for conservators over profiteers, Anderson asserts, repeating a pet theme.
Target’s miniscule June same-story sales gain is a “cause for celebration” in a tough economy, writes Finance & Commerce’s Kendall Anderson. The 0.4 percent jump badly trails Wal-Mart’s 5.8 percent surge. Big Blue has more essentials than Big Red, Anderson notes. Rebate checks helped. Meanwhile, the PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah says Best Buy is threatened by Wal-Mart’s incursion into flat-panel TVs, according to analysts.
A national ADHD conference opens today in Minneapolis, the PiPress’s Jeremy Olson notes. No long speeches, I hope! (Sorry.) The focus is on dads with ADHD; they’re less likely to earn college degrees and succeed in jobs or marriage. The problem isn’t inattention, one sufferer notes — sometimes, ADHD focuses you so much on one task you can’t stop thinking about it, thus ignoring your family. Coping techniques will be discussed. Around 400 people are expected.
Zing! In a Strib letter, the state’s revenue commissioner says Minneapolis tax officials threatened him with an “unflattering story” — like one that ran in the Strib two days ago. City leaders have ripped the state for requiring property-tax hikes in two neighborhoods; the state’s Ward Einess says they wouldn’t cough up the data and have to play by everyone else’s rules.
Finance & Commerce’s Brian Johnson says mad Mall of America-area hotel owners may form a political action committee and hire lobbyists to fight new lodging/entertainment taxes. They’ll bang on the city of Bloomington, to whom the legislature handed the Mall subsidy hot potato.
Suddenly controversial Otter Tail Power won a 2.9 percent electrical-rate increase, the western Minnesota provider’s first in a decade, the Strib’s H.J. Cummins writes. That’s less than half what the Big Stone II power plant promoter wanted. A key moment: whether the Public Utilities Commission would require rate lowering if a whistleblower’s accounting-irregularity charge is confirmed. Commissioners declined, but noted they could cut rates later if problems are verified.
Nort spews: For a numbers geek, baseball is a lovely game. So try this: yesterday afternoon, Justin Morneau beat the Tigers with his fifth hit, an 11th-inning homer. A few hours later, the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez beat the Dodgers with his fifth hit, an 11th-inning homer. The Twins are now two-and-a-half back of Chicago.