Norm Coleman and Al Franken faced off at Farmfest. The Strib’s Patricia Lopez says Franken quickly tied Coleman to Bush, and Coleman bragged up his Ag Committee legislation. Franken ripped Coleman’s oil giveaways; MPR’s Mark Zdechlik says Coleman explained away pro-petrol votes as the price of ethanol subsidies. Pro-drilling Norm repeated Gov. Pawlenty’s “tire gauge” attacks on Democratic energy policy and uttered “manure is not a hazardous waste” — an ironic statement in a political debate.
More Farmfest: Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko says the crowd was clearly in Coleman’s corner; the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger agrees; note the applause here. Later, Coleman likened Franken’s attacks to “spitting into the wind.” Independence Party hopeful Dean Barkley called rising national debt “financial child abuse.” Stassen-Berger adds that Franken opposes the Central American free-trade deal Coleman supports. KARE’s John Croman says Franken, but not Coleman, wants a citizenship path for undocumented workers.
Forty-eight percent of Minnesota’s schools failed some No Child Left Behind measure. The Strib’s Emily Johns and Patrice Relerford say benchmarks are rising faster than test gains; “good” schools, like Edina High, are on the list. That’s “certain” to make more people question the law, because we’re finally hitting the ruling-class schools. Here’s MPR’s Tim Nelson frame: The substandard school count rose 10 percent and for the first time, “most of the decline is in the suburbs.”
More No Child Left Behind: It’s all about subgroups. Edina “failed” because 11th-grade black students didn’t make adequate math-test progress; that’s worth knowing, isn’t it? In Minneapolis, only 12 of 81 schools cleared the bar. As always, the only schools punished financially are ones with high poverty.
Olga Franco testified that she wasn’t driving the van that killed four Cottonwood, Minn., kids. The Strib’s Pam Louwagie calls the two-hour testimony “strikingly detailed.” An argument may have caused the collision. Franco, who claims she was the passenger, said she was fighting with her boyfriend and unbuckled her seatbelt pre-crash to get away from him, MPR’s Tim Post notes. A defense expert says the accident could’ve thrown Franco into the driver’s side.
More Franco: The PiPress’ Frederick Melo says the defendant acknowledged she doesn’t know how to drive; police confirmed Franco was stopped once for driving too slow. She broke her ankle in the crash, the bone protruding through skin, and the painkillers could’ve impaired her recollections when she admitted driving, a surgeon testified. The jury should get the case today.
It’s only an allegation, and no one’s been charged, but seven “wannabe gangsters” were picked up in a second baseball-bat beating at Lake Phalen. Six were juveniles, the PiPress’s Mara Gottfried notes. KARE’s Trisha Volpe says that three people did the beating. In the first incident, the victim was battling late-stage cancer and had her left middle finger torn off, writes the Strib’s Anthony Lonetree. It’s still unclear whether the attacks were related.
City Pages’ Bradley Campbell offers an intriguing rationale for North Minneapolis’s crime drop: fewer residents in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. That’s the “hypothesis” of one homicide researcher; other factors include “shot-spotter” technology and community organizing. At least one Northside veteran dismisses the foreclosures-equals-
Tire Gauge Tim Pawlenty will tell the National Press Club that Republicans are “too cynical,” the Associated Press reports. The story also says details of Pawlenty’s “Sam’s Club Republicanism” are sparing. Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg disses the guv’s VP impact here.
Hennepin County’s library director is interviewing for the Boston job, the Strib’s Steve Brandt writes. Amy Ryan has been generally lauded but criticized recently for high Minneapolis-system merger costs. The Boston mayor’s pal probably has the inside track. Ryan would make more in Boston —$167,000 versus $134,304 — but you can’t tell me it would go as far in that spendy East Coast town!
Struggling, scandal-plagued Buca was bought by Planet Hollywood, moving one step up the synthetic-restaurant chain, the Strib’s Steve Alexander notes. The price was a Happy Mealish 45 cents per share. The Buca name will remain but some locations may be closed. How’s the twice-bankrupt Planet Hollywood doing? The PiPress’s Jennifer Bjorhus says it’s now privately held, and into casinos.
Scandal-plagued Allianz Life, under attack for annuity misdeeds, will lay off 100 Golden Valley employees, the Strib’s Chris Serres reports. The company recently paid a $10 million fine in California for deceptive sales tactics to old folks, and refunded a bunch of Minnesotans’ money. Annuity regulation forced the company to lay off 200 people two years ago.
Michele Bachmann pulls a “Katie Couric” and mistakenly places the GOP convention in Minneapolis, the PiPress’ Dennis Lien notes. The Minnesota congresswoman tells Larry King: “I think everybody should come to Minneapolis. It’s the most beautiful city in the United States.” Was she saying that in the Legislature? Lien archly notes Bachmann lives in Stillwater, in the St. Paul sphere of influence. Bachmann tells WCCO she meant to say “Twin Cities.”
Today’s talker from KSTP: Minneapolis 8-year-old finds bazooka shell in park. Fortunately, the Columbia Park ammo turned out to be a dummy.
I spend minutes each day trolling through small-town newspaper RSS feeds to bring you two gems from the Fergus Falls Daily Journal: “Man in Thong Visits Beach” and “Sex Toys on Street.” What’s gotten into the lake water up there?
Nort spews: The Twins’ bullpen again spits the bit as Minnesota loses 8-7 to the Mariners; they’re a full game back of Chicago. Brett Favre is still a Packer, but may soon be a Buccaneer.