It’s Jesse Ventura decision day, with “Larry King Live” the ex-guv’s podium. Ventura’s buddy, Dean Barkley, tells KARE’s Joe Fryar, “I think he’s gonna do it.” Jesse still won’t talk to the local press, but if he’s in, expect his accursed “media jackals” to bay even louder. Tuesday is the final day to file for November’s elections.
KSTP’s Kristi Piehl exposes a fast-buck fundraising group tied to the D.A.R.E. anti-drug effort. Twin City Events reps sell outside malls, where they claim they forward 10 to 40 percent of trinket-sale donations. But the actual amount is 5 percent, mostly toys. Salesfolk re-sell toys and pocket the cash, an ex-employee says. A nationwide company, Quantum, is at the top. TCE says salesfolk will now disclose the 5-percent donation. Toys for Tots already axed the group, and D.A.R.E. and others are now thinking the same.
Minnesota’s governor makes less than the national average without a raise for the last decade — but the real effect is that state government is losing workers to localities. That’s because the local salaries have slipped the cap that still binds state workers, the PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger and MaryJo Webster note. Half of executive branch employees have maxed out, though contract limits also play a part. Pawlenty won’t approve a higher top. Didja know: Penny-pinching ex-Rep. Phil Krinkie pushed for higher goob pay.
More salaries: the PiPress touts a database of state and local salaries at its Data Planet page here.
Congressman Jim Oberstar wants to exempt a proposed open-pit mine on Superior forest land from an environmental impact statement, and environmentalists are mad, MPR’s Bob Kelleher reports. PolyMet Mining will buy the land, essentially swapping it for private parcels inside the forest. That requires an EIS but will slow the sale down. Company officials and Oberstar’s spokesman say an EIS is already being done for the mine itself, but that’s not as comprehensive, enviros argue. Four hundred jobs will be created.
Can algae make a biodiesel that mitigates the energy crisis? WCCO’s Don Shelby broke the story two months ago, but the Strib’s Paul Levy checks in today with a look at Anoka-based SarTec, which projects $2-a-gallon biodiesel using its technology. The company says 3 percent of U.S. cropland could produce all the diesel now used domestically. Backers say an acre of soybeans produces 70 biodiesel gallons; algae, 1,200 gallons. There are skeptics, but most say it’s worth a try.
High oil prices spawn a gusher of trend stories, and the PiPress’s Christopher Snowbeck goes right for your kids’ gut: Ice cream trucks are screwed. The ex-mail trucks not only get poor mileage, their generators run on newly exorbitant petrol. In the end, the carnage doesn’t sound tragic: $10 to $15 extra a day. Fuel-efficient trucks are slipping in, and parking at high-volume locales is on the rise. The story doesn’t say how much treat prices have risen.
The Strib’s Emma Carew notes that tough times are producing a surge of local grads joining the Peace Corps, Teach for America and AmeriCorps. Nationally, Teach for America apps are up 36 percent from a year ago, and Peace Corps enrollment is up 14 percent; Minnesota is a leading supplier to both.
The new harness racing track in Columbus Township paid out about a million bucks in purses this season, the PiPress’ Brady Gervais reports. Attendance was somewhere north of 1,500 a night, but the real action will be from a card room that opened June 30. It debuted two months after the ponies, because of state law.
Conservatives are usually tough on lawbreakers — unless unions expose the crimes. That seems to be Katherine Kersten’s paradigm today, referring to a sweeping local legal judgment last month against Wal-Mart as a “blemish.” The company cost 56,000 workers $6.5 million in lost breaks and uncompensated overtime, and damages could rise to $2 billion. However, Kersten says “an organization of its mammoth size” will have such problems. Meanwhile: How ’bout those low prices! Talk about moral relativism.
If you want to see some extremely cool old newspaper photos, check out this PiPress obit. The paper’s John Brewer notes the passing of St. Paul cop LeRoy Thielen, who used “cobra-quick” action to disarm a psychotic hospital hostage-taker in 1971. Thielen donned a physician’s coat and convinced the man that “doctors wouldn’t hurt people.” After talking to the man for hours, Thielen and partner subdued the gun-wielder as he walked out the hospital doors. R.I.P., hero.
Nort spews: The Twins drop the finale in Detroit, but Chicago loses too, so the Twins enter the All-Star break 1.5 games back of the White Sox and 2.5 games behind in the wild-card chase. Tell me you’re not thrilled.