Gustavus Adolphus’ president, who signed a statement stating the 21-year-old drinking age “is not working,” clarifies. “It’s about a “serious, sustained, unfettered debate about the drinking age and the reality of life on a college campus and how those two things are aligned.” The Strib’s Libby Nelson says Jack Ohle was at a retreat and only issued a release. St. Cloud State’s president agrees, but didn’t sign the statement. Sympathetic presidents insist they won’t turn a blind eye to underage drinking.
More drinking age: The PiPress editorial page surveys four college leaders and finds no support for Ohle’s position, though some note problems that the 21-year-old standard has fomented.
Whoa: The Prior Lake-Savage school district is mothballing an elementary school it just built; voters approved construction but not the levies to operate it, the Strib’s Sarah Lemagie writes. The fast-growing district made good on threats to door-chain the $16.8 million facility after a levy defeat; officials had yoked the school’s $4.5 operating funds to a $28.9 million high school expansion some found excessive. As it stands, class-size reductions that school was supposed to provide won’t happen.
The corruption trial of two Ramsey County deputies opened; their lawyer says it was all a “practical joke,” the Strib’s Rochelle Olson and PiPress’ David Hanners report. The men tried to keep $6,000 in FBI-planted funds, prosecutors allege. An informant told the deputies that a dealer left drugs and funds in a hotel room; even the defense acknowledges one lawman said, “Let me see if I can’t scarf that out of here.” The defendants claim they were tweaking a third deputy with a “bloated ego.”
Al Franken proposed that veterans get free health care for life, but provided no cost figure, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger writes. Franken would also incentivize doctors to work on military mental health and increase military pay and benefits, among other items. Norm Coleman’s campaign calls it all empty rhetoric, and touts its military initiatives during the senator’s first term. The Strib’s Pat Lopez notes that fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar has campaigned with Franken for the first time this summer.
Maybe misleading, but not false: That’s an administrative law judge’s ruling, tossing out a DFL complaint against pro-business groups claiming a Franken-supported bill would “eliminate” union-election secret ballots. The bill eliminates secret ballots in certain circumstances but not in others. That was enough wiggle room for Judge Barbara Neilson, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere reports.
Third District Democratic congressional candidate Ashwin Madia claims outside groups are falsely spreading claims he was “impeached” as University of Minnesota student body head, MPR’s Mike Mulcahy says. Minnesota Democrats Exposed’s Michael Brodkorb, serving as a spokesman for Madia’s GOP opponent Erik Paulsen, tries to turn things around by saying his guy is also being “push-polled.” AFSCME, a pro-Madia union Brodkorb fingers, denies it specifically; the Houston group allegedly spreading the Madia dirt won’t comment.
Slumping Target will scale back 2009 new-store openings, the PiPress’ Gita Sitaramiah reports. The 70 to 75 openings are a third fewer than planned, the Strib’s Jackie Crosby notes; the discounter will open 90 to 95 stores this year. Target’s profits slumped for the fourth quarter in a row; its quarterly earnings fell 7.6 percent while Wal-Mart’s rose 17 percent.
The Strib’s Chris Serres looks at healthy financial results for Cargill, Minnesota’s largest company by revenue. Profit margins are smaller, but earnings were up nearly 70 percent; aggressive international expansion set up Cargill to capture big bucks from surging food demand. Serres praises the leviathan’s nimbleness but noted higher inventory costs required $15.5 billion. If food prices fall, such leveraging could hurt; still, the private company won’t go public to raise funds, its CFO insists.
Really good in-depth piece from City Pages’ Beth Walton on the animal shelter community’s “no-kill” debate. The Animal Humane Society killed 14,610 of the 36,378 animals it took in last year; disgruntled volunteers and rival “no-kill” shelters say euthanizations can be greatly reduced. AHS execs defend their practices as reality-based. The debate’s received recent press, but this story does a terrific job of giving both sides ample space to fairly make their case. (Disclosure: My wife does some AHS legal work.)
Although the story hedges some, a City Pages headline asks “Why does Minnesota have the nation’s highest autism rates?” According to reporter Bradley Campbell, Minnesota’s one-in-every-81-births autism rate nearly doubles the one-in-150 national figure. The former figure is based on the work of a Texas autism researcher, who says his number is more specific than commonly accepted Centers for Disease Control stat. State officials say any counting is slippery. There’s no good answer to the headline question, by the way.
Not really a local story, but a nice observation from the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger: Credit-card solicitation mail dropped 17 percent in this year’s second quarter. About half of households making less than $50,000 received an offer, down from two-thirds last year.
Barbara Bachman’s condition was upgraded to good, the Strib’s Maura Lerner reports. Bachman suffered “life-threatening” stab wounds in an Olympics incident where her husband was killed, but is now walking and talking, the PiPress’ Frederick Melo writes. Bachmans CEO Todd Bachman’s funeral is being delayed until Barbara Bachman is well enough to attend. Family updates are here.
The Strib’s Allie Shah crafts a nice feature on 86-year-old Minnesota native L. Bruce Laingen, the Iran hostage survivor donating tons of stuff to the Minnesota Historical Society. The tale is about more than the hostage crisis itself, showing how a World War II generation of Minnesotans became internationalists.
The state is giving away 5,800 college grants each worth $1,200, but has only 1,400 applicants so far, the Strib’s Jeff Shelman writes. If you want to access the dough, click here.
The Strib’s Patrice Relerford lists several items elementary and secondary school officials will try to ban this year: “Wheelie” shoes, Hannah Montana junk, and T-shirts with bad puns. The story says more 7- and 8-year-olds are showing up with cell phones. The devices “can’t be banned,” Relerford writes. Why not? State law? Blowback from safety- or status-conscious parents? Just curious.
A wild boar has Detroit Lakes folks freaking out, the Strib’s Doug Smith notes. The illegal porker probably got out of a private hunting preserve; officials worry that a hard-to-eradicate feral pig colony could get started. (Thirty-nine states have such colonies, but Minnesota apparently isn’t one of them.) The omnivores are not kind to local vegetation. “They literally tear up the woods,” one expert says. Locals can shoot on sight, but so far, it’s like “finding a needle in a haystack.”
KSTP says a Minneapolis city employee has been removed from duty for tagging problem properties, then offering to clean up the yards for $100 in cash. As scams go, that’s a lot of sweating for a Franklin, but still.
Today’s talker: A recent Hopkins High basketball star was arrested for driving a getaway car in a Wisconsin bank robbery, the Strib’s Tim Harlow reports. Anthony Diloreto had earned a basketball scholarship to Cal Poly.
USA Today offers an overview on preparations for the Republican National Convention. Yes, St. Paul is in the headline.
Cleaning up Glean: On Tuesday, KSTP reported a Minneapolis City Council committee had approved a $15,000 settlement with an employee who alleged sexual harassment. The Strib’s Steve Brandt says the committee forwarded the settlement to the full Council without recommendation. Two days ago, I reported that a KSTP poll had Al Franken beating DFL challenger Priscilla Lord Faris; that one was my fault: it was Norm Coleman leading Faris.
Nort spews: The Twins batter Oakland 13-2 but remain a game behind Chicago. Sore Loser here and here. At the end of this afternoon’s game, the Twins will have played more home games than any team in the majors, and embark on a make-or-break 14-game road trip.