DNC convention coverage kicks off. The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere and PiPress’ Jason Hoppin cover Obama’s Eau Claire appearance; the soon-to-be-nominee hits blue-collar issues attempting to channel Hillary Rodham Clinton. The candidate decried GOP scare tactics, and took aim at the opposition’s alleged strength: “The Republican record on national security has not been good.” MPR’s Jessica Mador says Obama emphasized tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans and gun rights support. (They’re not for clinging anymore!) Fox9’s Scott Wasserman has video.
More DNC: The Strib’s Mark Brunswick and the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury provide a quick overview of the DFL’s diverse delegation; one delegate was a year behind Obama in high school; another is a Buffalo, Minn. cop. In print, I didn’t find any Clinton delegate quotes on their general-election votes following Joe Biden’s vice-presidential tap; online, Salisbury says there’s no discontent. Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks to the convention today. MPR’s Bob Collins notes how restrictive convention-hall credentialing encourages protest coverage.
Still more DNC: Minnesota ex-Democratic congressman Tim Penny joins Gov. Tim Pawlenty as part of the GOP’s rapid response team in Denver, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. When last seen, Penny was running against Pawlenty as the Independence Party’s 2002 nominee, helping split the DFL base to give the plurality guv his win. Also, there’s a pretty funny “Meet the Twin Cities” video for current.com’s Trace Crutchfield. (Current is the channel Al Gore helped start.)
Vandals busted windows and threw paint bombs inside Barack Obama’s St. Paul headquarters. The attack occurred at 1 a.m. Sunday; no one was hurt. There are no suspect descriptions and no surveillance video, the Strib’s Chao Xiong reports. The St. Paul cops are playing down politically motivated violence; there was nothing explicit that way. There’s video from The Uptake’s Mike McIntee.
Pawlenty’s popularity remains to be proven nationally, but he’s doing pretty well in Minnesota, according to an MPR/Humphrey Institute poll. Pawlenty’s approve/disapprove percentage is 55/39, quite decent in this polarized times. MPR’s Tim Pugmire says people are nervous about Pawlenty’s potential’s successor, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau; 37 percent have doubts about how she’ll perform, but there’s no figure for non-doubters. Legislatively, 49 percent favor Dems, 39 percent Republicans.
The local Somali community has seen a “surge in autism,” the Strib’s Maura Lerner writes. (See MinnPost coverage here.) The stats come from Minneapolis schools’ autism programs; from zero in 2000 to 17 percent of all kindergarteners, triple the overall Somali student population. However, since ’97, the number of all kids in autism programs has risen tenfold. There are cultural stigmas that prevent Somalis from acknowleding autism, and vaccination rates may go down if parents believe they’re the cause.
The state’s largest school district faces an enrollment drop, more low-income students and tons of retirements among district leaders and principals. St. Paul or Minneapolis? Nope, it’s Anoka-Hennepin, says the Strib’s Norman Draper. Voters approved a bond levy last year, easing financial worries, but the 38,500-student district will lose 600 or so kids this year; lost state revenue eats up a one-10th of the voter-funded increase. The district forecasts continued declines, opening up annual deficits of $10 million to $15 million.
By the way, there’s a contested Minneapolis School Board primary Sept. 9. Anyone covering it? Here are an early bunch of capsules from the Southwest Journal’s Dylan Thomas. But a lot more is needed. Three of these folks will have pretty major responsibilities next year.
The Strib’s Rochelle Olson does a scene-setter for Week Two of the Ramsey County sheriff’s office corruption trial. Two deputies are accused of pocketing FBI-planted money, returning it only after they couldn’t find the alleged perp’s name in criminal databases. (See MinnPost coverage here.)
There’s a plague of wild parsnip, a weed that “is so corrosive it can cause blisters as severe as a second-degree burn.” According to the Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada, Wright County is the new epicenter. State eradication funding was cut this year. The weed’s traveled north on transportation corridors. One victim who walked through the stuff said it looked like he had webbed feet.
A Strib print headline says local embezzlement prosecutions are increasing, but the story seems to contradict that. The U.S. attorney’s office prosecuted 94 cases in 2007, up from 82 the year before. However, this year, there have been 35 cases, which on an annualized basis works out to fewer than 70 or fewer if the 2008 number is from July or later.
Nort spews: Dreaded recent acquisition Mark Texiera continued his homer barrage as the Angels scored a 5-3 comeback win over the Twins. Minnesota is back in second by a half-game, though fans would’ve probably taken that at the beginning of the four-game road series. On to Oakland Seattle for games five through seven of 14 games away from home.