Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Daily Glean: Now, it’s Franken’s turn for a gas-price gimmick

By David Brauer | Tuesday, July 29, 2008
In Tuesday’s local news roundup, Al Franken offers his own gas-price-reducing plan, the Strib returns to gusset plates, and a famous Minnesota emigre returns

Hey! Policy in the U.S. Senate race! Al Franken called for a 50-million-barrel release from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve, plus an oil-speculator crackdown, KARE’s John Croman reports. Franken blames Norm Coleman for canceling out Amy Klobuchar’s anti-speculation vote; Coleman’s campaign says the bill didn’t include more offshore drilling. MPR’s Mark Zdechlik quotes Franken saying the reserve-release will do more to bring down short-term prices and raise up to $7 billion for improving home energy efficiency.

More oil: The Strib’s Patricia Lopez says Norm’s forces argue a 50-million-barrel release is just 2.5 days of U.S. consumption — the classic short-term solution — but it’s more than we’ll get from increased offshore drilling for at least the next decade, right? (The release amounts to 7 percent of the reserve’s capacity.) They also charge Al supported a higher federal gas tax; Franken says that was when gas was under three bucks.

The National Transportation Safety Board is rethinking MnDOT’s culpability regarding bent 35W gusset plates, the Strib’s Tony Kennedy writes. NTSB chair Mark Rosenker once controversially said MnDOT couldn’t have known about the plates, but 1999 photos turned up showing the bent connections. The significance is “still being analyzed,” Rosenker now says. The NTSB’s report is due within 100 days.

As crews clean concrete off 35E, three DFL legislators stage an exquisitely prescheduled news conference calling for more rigorous bridge inspections, WCCO’s Pat Kessler reports. The DFLers tout advanced inspection technologies and documentation, MPR’s Greta Cunningham details. MnDOT’s new chief notes all bridges were reinspected last year; Kessler says MnDOT officials note it’s “not unusual” for bridge chunks to fall. A chunk this big is an oddity, Cunningham indicates, but she talks to a victim hit last year on Highway 7.

Article continues after advertisement

More 35E: Strib editorialists applaud the DFL moves, and use the opportunity to again urge that state salary caps be lifted.

Bill Cooper will be paying taxes in Minnesota again. The rock-ribbed conservative and ex-TCF Bank CEO is returning to his post amid sliding profits and job cuts. Cooper, who decamped to Florida but retained the chairman’s title, replaces the 52-year-old Lynn Nagorske, who won’t talk, the PiPress’s Jennifer Bjorhus notes. Cooper says was Nagorske was “just burned out” on the bank biz, MPR’s Martin Moylan says. The Republican tells Moylan he’s “burned out” on politics. Cooper will be paid in stock only.

More TCF: The bank will slice 100 jobs in Minnesota and Colorado, the Business Journal’s Jennifer Niemela writes. Bjorhus notes the bank is well-capitalized and relatively unexposed in the mortgage mess, even as write-offs have risen.

Minnesota recorded its first three West Nile cases. Becker, Carver and Clay counties recorded single outbreaks, AP reports. KSTP’s Jessica Miles says the late mosquito hatch means West Nile is showing up simultaneously in bird and humans; the birds usually get it first and provide warnings for us bipeds. The three victims were infected in mid-July and have a less-severe form of the disease; they’re all recovering, MPR notes.

Gulp: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air pollution advisory … for the next five days. Pollution ratings are forecast above 90; the alert threshold is 100. People are being asked to reduce driving and gas-powered lawn mowing, the PiPress’s Dennis Lien observes.

Juror empanelment began in the Olga Franco vehicular homicide trial. Fox9 offers details, including ethnicity — three Anglos, one Hispanic. (There are no details on two other jurors.) The Strib’s Pam Louwagie notes one potential juror was dismissed for saying Franco’s boyfriend should be found first. The defense says he was the van driver. Franco’s lawyer tells the West Central Tribune’s Gretchen Schlosser that his client may not testify. “Would you hold it against her if she didn’t?” he asks.

The Strib’s Rochelle Olson scores a jailhouse interview with Dominic Jones, the ex-Gopher football star now in the Hennepin County workhouse serving a one-year rape sentence. The talk-radio quote: “I am not blaming a white man. I am not blaming a prosecutor. I’m not blaming a judge. I’m blaming me. That was hard for me to do at first.” Hennepin County’s top prosecuter offers praise for the self-awareness.

Mayo Clinic researchers say more people will develop an early form of Alzheimer’s, MPR’s Sea Stachura notes. Clinicians found 2-5 percent of folks in their 70s and 80s develop the disease; they expected 1-2 percent.

The $900 million Bush Foundation rocks the nonprofit world by closing off this year’s grant applications and refocusing on three areas, the PiPress’s Dominic Papatola reports. If you’re not involved in Native American self-determination, community problem solving or education achievement, find grants elsewhere. Bush will make “fewer, bigger” grants and partner with nonprofits, new president Peter Hutchinson says. Arts will get continued funding for the next few years; the group also was into ecology and human services.

Article continues after advertisement

Hennepin County has begun efforts to get federal cash to redevelop Ft. Snelling’s historic 141-acre Ft. Snelling Upper Post, the PiPress’s Richard Chin writes. The deal could cost more than $100 million; the state just provided $500,000 for mothballing, the Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka notes. The site, built between 1870 and 1910, hasn’t been used much since World War II. The Strib’s Elizabeth Flores contributes a great photo.

A plan to generate 5 percent of the Minneapolis Convention Center’s electricity via solar power is controversial, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports. The installation would cover four football fields worth of roof space; the $2 million cost would partly come from a Minnesota fund to build in-state expertise, but the cash would go to a Colorado company.

Finance and Commerce has some fun noting Republican-convention-related Craigslist ads. Offers include GPS-enabled cars, restaurants, parking spaces, day care and mental-health treatment, not to mention the personal services of a recent St. Olaf College grad, reporter Betsy Sundquist notes. One advertiser is looking for a “gay or gay-friendly place to crash.” One local band seeks “10 beautiful women” to solicit donations for shows it will give near the convention site.

Problems at a Crystal apartment complex aren’t usually enough to make Glean, but I loved this KARE headline so click for a cheap thrill.

Nort spews: Twins fans luxuriate in a 7-0 pounding of Chicago; Kevin Slowey, Justin Morneau and Denard Span are the heroes. Minnesota is again a game-and-a-half back of the Whities (by the way, every Central team is 5-5 in their last 10 games, a mathematical rarity). Belated Sore Loser here, with bonus attack on Ozzie’s Twins love here. Glen Perkins faces Chicago rookie Clayton Richard tonight. Packers GM Ted Thompson says Green Bay won’t trade Brett Favre to the Vikes or any NFC Central team.