Daily Glean: Hennepin’s homeless family numbers soar

Hennepin County family homelessness is up 27 percent in this year’s first six months over a year ago, the Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka reports. The raw numbers: 641 families in ’08 versus 503 in ’07. Lost jobs, apartment building foreclosures and welfare eligibility limits are all factors. County officials are optimistic enhanced one-on-one casework developed in the last few years will pare rolls, but the macroeconomics seem bad.

The chief terrorists in the 2007 BWCA camper-hazing issue got three years in jail, the PiPress’ Tad Vezner notes. These were the yahoos who got into their boats, armed with guns and fireworks, and came ashore to threaten to kill and rape families camped around a BWCA lake. The rest of the ring, save one juvenile yet to be tried, already got lighter sentences.

RNC Story o’ the Day: “Cars, scooters, even bicycles” will be banned from much of downtown St. Paul during convention week, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick reports. MPR has a map here. The ban starts three days before the convention (Aug. 29) and lasts for two days after (Sept. 6). Wheelchairs are OK. I smell a rental opportunity! Some bus riders will be screwed, the Strib’s Anthony Lonetree asserts, though buses will be added. Pre-approved vehicles can still get in.

Related: KSTP says folks will be able to view RNC surveillance cameras from home. No hotlink yet, but it’s a St. Paul police thing. Idle thought: Does this help aggressive disrupters find the sweet spots?

Sadness: Joe Kudla — aka Snot of Puke and Snot — died, the PiPress’ Dominic Papatola reports. With bawdy gusto, Kudla and partner Mark Sieve entertained tens of thousands of Renaissance Fairgoers since debuting in 1973. The Strib’s Graydon Royce says Kudla was felled by an apparent heart attack. Here’s Puke’s gallows humor: “I was complaining to my wife about my irresponsible partner not answering his phone. Turns out he had a good excuse.” Puke will continue to perform with replacement John Gamoke.

Plea-bargaining out of a triple murder? That appears to be what Rashad Raleigh will get in return for a life-without-parole sentence in the Howard Porter killing, the Strib’s Rochelle Olson writes. A mother, boyfriend and daughter were slain two months before Porter’s killing; police haven’t wrapped up that investigation, and others are also suspected, but prosecutors tell AP Raleigh played a “central role.” Another accused Porter killer has been offered parole after 30 years.

A key Metro Transit committee approved a 25-cent Metro Transit fare increase that will take effect Oct. 1, the PiPress’ Tad Vezner writes. Metro Mobility users will get hit double; their fares are up 50 cents. The committee rejected longer rush-hour upcharging; higher fares will still kick in at 6 a.m., not 5:30. Final approval is expected Wednesday.

One in three state departments employ fewer minorities than in 1997, even though the state’s minority population has climbed, Minnesota Independent’s Anna Pratt reports. Overall, state minority employment is up a paltry 2 percent, says the Minnesota State Affirmative Action Association. Exceptions: Human Services, where minority employment doubled. Still, most jobs are low-level; half the agencies had fewer minority managers than a decade ago.

Northwest pilots got a big pay bump as they and Delta pilots approved a four-year contract, the Strib’s Liz Fedor reports. Pilots still haven’t knit together seniority lists, but binding arbitration would do that. Northwest pilots get brought up to Delta’s pay scale (no dollar amount is provided) and then everyone gets 4 to 5 percent annual raises.

KSTP has video of a bus almost hitting a light-rail train last weekend. It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds — you can basically see the crossing-arm stuck atop the bus; an eyewitness says the bus turned as the crossing-arm lights were flashing. Metro Transit declined to talk, but released a statement saying it’s investigating.

AP reports Minnesota state revenues were 2.5 percent higher than expected in July, continuing a 2008 trend. The overage amounts to $21 million. Explanations for the unexpected good fortune are few.

U.S. Senate hopeful Al Franken one-upped opponent Norm Coleman on Iraqi government cash-snatching, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. Last week, Coleman proposed stopping a $1.1 billion reconstruction-aid transfer to Iraq, citing that country’s oil-bloated $50 billion budget surplus. Now, Franken wants to reclaim $7.1 billion given to, but unspent by, the Iraqis. Coleman’s campaign tells AP some of the money has already been returned.

Stassen-Berger archly notes that the Coleman campaign will finally release photos of the senator’s living space, several weeks after claiming such visuals would be a “security threat.” It was nuttiness to begin with; everyone had images of the house where Coleman rents for the low, low price of $600 a month. Stassen-Berger promises an upload, but as of early this morning, the Coleman campaign hadn’t delivered.

Wow — a fundraising letter calls House GOP representatives “empty carcasses.” A DFL smear? No, the author is House GOP leader Marty Seifert, MPR’s Tom Scheck reports. Scheck was sent a Seifert fundraising letter that “sounds more defensive than offensive.” Seifert’s trying to wring cash by noting his caucus may become too small to sustain vetoes: “If the House Republicans lose five seats this November, the few remaining of the House Republicans will be no more than empty carcasses.”

The busy Mr. Scheck also notes that Minnesota Taxpayers League head Phil Krinkie will organize an effort to oppose constitutionally dedicated sales taxes for outdoor habitat and the arts. The group “No Constitutional Tax Increase,” will tussle with a bigger “Vote Yes” effort already begun.

PiPress editorialists sit down with reps from three community groups objecting to Central Corridor LRT facets. It’s a sane, illuminating discussion of objections, especially how the transit-dependent might be hurt by a line that transit advocates tout.

Minnesota Independent’s Tom Elko notes that Congress passed a ban on phthalates, a plasticizer used in kids’ toys. President Bush is likely to sign the bill. The local angle? Gov. Pawlenty vetoed similar legislation this spring, saying it was “not based on sound science.”

Ex-Hennepin judge Harvey Ginsberg pled guilty to stalking harassment for allegedly threatening a kid with a baseball bat: two years’ probation, 30 days “Sentenced to Serve” (which I think is community service), a $900 fine, and no contact with the victim. The Strib’s Terry Collins says Ginsberg still denies the bat use. The former jurist has a mental illness, faced other criminal charges and was removed from the bench in 2004.

Today’s talker: The Twin Cities’ last diaper service is closing, the Strib’s Paul Walsh reports. North Minneapolis’s Cheek to Cheek says its customer count has dropped from 500 to 125 in four years. The owner won’t blame high gas prices, saying, “Minnesotans are not as environmentally conscious as they pretend to be.” The diaper-service boom took off in the 1980s. Ex-customer Adam Platt of Mpls.St.Paul waxes nostalgic and assesses significance here.

Nort spews: The Twins can beat the Yankees, as Glen Perkins’ eight shutout innings prove; you know it’s a charmed night when Adam Everett hits a two-run blast. Minnesota’s 4-0 win puts them back in first. Sore Losers — including the New York Post’s Yankee “Death Watch” — here, here and here. Vikings fans should be bummed: Sore-necked starting safety Madieu Williams will miss at least the first three games of the season, the Strib’s Judd Zulgad reports.

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