With gas prices up, a reprise of 2004’s 44-day bus strike would nail more than just Metro Transit workers and the poor. The 2008 stage might be set if workers vote down the Met Council’s “best and final” offer today, WCCO’s John Lauritsen reports. The last contract expired Thursday; this deal features a 2.25 percent raise now and a 2 percent raise next year. Workers initially turned down a deal July 14 and aren’t uttering the “strike” word yet.
Will “Night to Unite” replace “National Night Out?” Locally, communities such as Golden Valley are bailing on the popular event — scheduled for Tuesday night — because of an NNO exec’s $322,000 salary, the Strib’s Joy Powell writes. Minneapolis says it doesn’t care that Pennsylvania-based Matt Peskin gets one-third of NNO’s $1 million budget; he created the whole idea. The story doesn’t say what NNO costs a town. Target, an NNO sponsor, recommended a consultant to deal with the org’s problems.
Local hookers can service incoming GOP Convention delegates just fine, local authorities tell the Strib’s Randy Furst. Well, maybe they didn’t say it quite like that, but based on experiences in other convention cities, police say prostitution doesn’t boom during such events. Two local escort services disagree; at least one is importing out-of-towners, Furst reports. Most anti-prostitution groups agree with the suppliers, but some say enforcement renders flaccid the hype.
It wasn’t radioactivity, but a high level of an ammonia-like chemical that shut down the Prairie Island nuke plant Sunday, the PiPress’s Nancy Ngo reports. The high level of hydrazine, which reduces pipe corrosion, promped the action; the plant had just been shut down for maintenance. The alert was the lowest of the plant’s four levels, and the hydrazine was “vented.”
Remember when Dick Cheney mocked energy conservation as a “personal virtue?” Another auditioning VP/hit man has picked up the schtick. In Iowa, Pawlenty pulled out a tire gauge to mock Barack Obama for saying properly inflated tires save gas, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports. (Gotta love radio names.) According to fueleconomy.gov, gas use drops 3.3 percent when tire pressure is right, offering a bigger savings than, say, offshore drilling.
“Caches of weapons” are hidden throughout the Minnesota Zoo, something I’m not sure I’d want publicized. But zoo officials are bragging about their armaments stash as one way to counter potential wild animal escapes in the wake San Francisco’s high-profile tiger incident, the Strib’s David Peterson reports. There’s also an auto-dial system in case a tree falls and breaches a cage perimeter. Interesting: Better nutrition may be breeding better escapees.
The Brett Favre circus is fully upon us; the Packers have told the Vikings that the phlegmatic QB is available. That’s according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob Ginn, quoting “an executive in personnel for an NFL team with close ties to clubs in the NFC North” (whew!). The conversation was brief, McGinn reports. On WCCO, Joe Senser predicts Favre will be a Viking by tonight.
First District Congressman Tim Walz wants Congress to pass a bill this year hiking rich folks’ taxes for middle-class tax cuts and deficit reduction, the Mankato Free Press’s Mark Fischenich reports. Folks making more than $330,000 would pay pre-Bush rates so 61 million Americans would get a $750 cut plus $60 million in deficit relief. It has no chance of surviving a veto, but it’s a rare bit of Democratic political theater that might make the GOP squirm, sort of a reverse offshore drilling.
The Strib editorial page evangelizes for a downtown Minneapolis special services district, which would cost 600 properties (including the Strib) $6.5 million. It’s hard to argue downtown couldn’t use some spiffing up, but I groan at the “downright scary” rhetoric. I know some are bummed about black guys hanging from the bus station to Block E, but downtown has among the city’s lowest crime rates, and if you look at the Strib’s own murder map, killings hop downtown like tornadoes over an urban heat island.
Heart-tugger: Hennepin County’s “Readmobiles” may be parked because of high gas prices and the system’s budget deficit, the Strib’s Steve Brandt writes. The two-vehicle fleet serves 80 day-care sites, 60 classrooms and a dozen low-income housing projects. Such service has been in place since 1922, meaning it survived the Great Depression but perhaps not the Minneapolis library merger.
Nort spews: What a re-debut by Francisco Liriano! Yes, he was a bit wild, and yes, it’s the picked-over Cleveland Indians, but Liriano’s six shutout innings and the Twins 5-2 win finally puts them in first, a half-game up on Chicago. No Sore Loser; instead the Indians praise Minnesota here.