Norm Coleman’s lead over Al Franken has shrunk to 7 points in a new SurveyUSA poll; it was 13 points last month. The KSTP-paid survey has Coleman leading 46 percent to 39 percent; 11 percent chose “other.” Norm leads 49-30, among independents. Another recent robo-poll, Rasmussen, has the two men tied. Coleman leads Franken’s DFL primary challenger Priscilla Lord Faris 45 percent to 27 percent in the same survey. No margin of sampling error, or party ID of respondents.
In another VP tryout, Gov. Pawlenty debated possible Democratic opponent Evan Bayh on “Face the Nation.” Bayh tweaked the master tweaker for opposing the surge, but MPR’s Tom Scheck says fact-checking backs up Pawlenty’s claim that he was skeptical only because the surge started so late. However, Pawlenty opposed extending National Guard tours that allowed the surge to happen, Scheck adds. Video of the entire segment is in Scheck’s post. Of course, Bayh supported the Iraq War that Obama opposed.
WCCO’s Caroline Lowe says St. Paul is one of five cities testing high-tech 911 to handle text-message reports and perhaps even phonecam feeds of crimes in progress. St. Paul’s 911 center is demonstrating how fast info can be accurately received and communicated to responders. The test ends in November, but improvements aren’t likely for years. Idle thought: How will e911 handle spam?
Given how many people live in it, public housing is an undercovered subject locally. Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Scott Russell offers a fascinating story of how Minneapolis will green up its public housing boilers, windows and appliances. The feds will continue to reimburse the city as if its facilities are energy hogs, but the city will bond off the tax dough to pay off the efficiency improvements. Taxpayers won’t fork over more, energy use will drop, and maybe even residents will be more comfy.
In case you missed it Sunday, the PiPress’ Frederick Melo did a nice, non-sensational look at prosecuting welfare fraud. Dakota County prosecutes four times the cases Washington County does, but the latter county ranks third statewide in cost-effectiveness; Dakota is 16th. (Both are above average among 55 counties studied.) There’s taxpayer-savings-versus-deterrence arguments, but Melo fleshes them out well. Fraud case studies here.
Having covered police labor negotiations, I know the cops love battering-ram subtlety when crunch time hits. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried says that in an upcoming radio ad, the St. Paul Police Federation predicts a mass cop exodus to the ‘burbs if Chris Coleman’s crew doesn’t bring them up to salary parity with Minneapolis. The city says it’s never had an officer flee to outlying precincts for higher pay (!) and 20 percent of recent hires have come from places with higher career pay.
Following up on the Minneapolis Fed’s prediction earlier this month of creamy-‘burb foreclosure hot spots, the Strib’s Kevin Giles says all metro counties should exceed last year’s sheriff’s sale count “by big margins.” That’s made the market more affordable for first-time buyers, but fixer-uppers beware.
There will be no Qwest strike; two major unions reached a deal over the weekend, one day after contracts expired, AP reports.
The Strib’s medical-reporting team is en fuego today. Maura Lerner presents the rather chilling news that one-quarter of 70-or-older volunteers failed a simple memory test; for most, that signaled “some form of dementia.” That’s twice as many as VA researchers expected. There’s a sobering anecdote of a man getting an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis, though the family seems pleased with help they’ll now get. If such screenings become widespread, some researchers worry about false diagnoses and stigma.
Lerner’s teammate, Chen May Yee, has a nice feature on doctors getting off the health-system treadmill and opening patient-friendly practices. These aren’t fancypants “concierge” services, either. The centerpiece is Dr. Michael Oldenburg, who returned from Sweden (land of two-hour daily breaks) to open a “mom-and-pop” urgent care in Southwest Minneapolis. The obstacles aren’t sugarcoated, primarily economies of scale; I wonder how available one-man “urgent care” can be. But it sounds attractive as hell, and thus makes a compelling read.
The Strib’s editorial page pushes for a state-sponsored long-term care savings plan, modeled on Nebraska’s, the only place that now offers it. The tax-advantaged savings plans offer a $2,000 deduction, though there’s a push for up to $5,000. That could really help folks with that much money to put away, but what about lower-income care-needers? One Republican legislator says he’ll introduce the concept next session. Presumably, this helps, not hurts, the state’s coffers.
KSTP’s Tim Sherno offers a tour of the late-stage 35W bridge construction, including a nifty prowl inside the hollow bridge spans. A spokesperson says the bridge will reopen “mid-September to mid-October.”
Back to the Senate: MPR’s Mark Zdechlik offers a long takeout on Coleman and Franken’s energy plans. New stuff: Franken notes Coleman ripped Paul Wellstone in 2002 for a 20 percent renewable-energy mandate that now looks reasonable. Coleman says Franken is playing footsie with nuclear-energy advocacy. Because Franken wants to wait until the waste storage issue is solved, the net effect is no nukes.
RNC Protest Story O’ The Day: The Strib’s Randy Furst assesses the 36 lottery winners for “open stage” speaking slots near Xcel Energy Center. Ex-DFL congressional candidate Colleen Rowley won a position; one dude will turn his 50-minute slot over to Maryland’s eight GOP Congressional candidates. Lots of abortion talk, a Ron Paul guy talking Waco, and a whole bunch of people who sound cagey or clueless. One guy’s trying, impermissibly, to sell his slot for $100 on eBay.
The oft-criticized, oft-cashflowing Super Lawyers concept gets another vetting from Strib legal/business expert Dave Phelps. Local guys Minnesota Law & Politics have made it a national deal; when we last left our story, a New Jersey legal advisory committee said it was unethical for lawyers to tout their place in the unscientific assessment. But last month, a Sopranos-state special master said doing so is OK. “Winning” lawyers are asked to buy ads before each locality’s laurel-ladling issue hits the stands.
Sports stats you didn’t know: 19 major-league baseball teams used fireworks 142 times in 2006. Local context? Some downtown Minneapolis residents fear frequent pyrotechnics at the new Twins stadium. Downtown Journal’s Michelle Bruch says the Pohlad forces will deploy the colored gunpowder, but haven’t established how often or where Ground Zero will be.
Nort spews: The Twins pulled off one of the most excruciating wins of the season, 11-8 over the lowly Seattle Mariners. The bullpen, save Nathan, looks cooked. Then again, the Twins are a season-high 17 games above .500. The Strib’s Bill Ward has a fun feature on the Twins serving as waiters and bartenders at a Morton’s fundraiser. (Justin Morneau’s fast pour here.) Locally connected folks finally won Olympic medals; rowers Matt Schnobrich and Micah Boyd took bronze as part of an eight-man crew, the Strib’s Rachel Blount reports.