[Note: Locally related Democratic National Convention news is aggregated here.]
The RNC policing has begun a few days early. Three people — the Strib calls them “journalists,” the PiPress, “videographers” — were detained in northeast Minneapolis. The New York-based Glass Bead Collective documents protests; they say city cops took — and kept — cameras and contact-stuffed laptops, yet filed no charges and gave no tickets, the PiPress’ Tad Vezner says. Fox9’s Tom Lyden says police believe the trio surveilled a rail yard because of “hazardous chemicals that pass through.” The trio denies even being there.
More on arrests: Group members acknowledge meeting with anarchists, even though they say they’re non-violent and non-anarchist. Lyden editorializes, “These days, everyone with a camera is calling themselves a journalist or a documentarian, whether they have an agenda or not.” (Sensationalism is also an agenda, though of the commercial variety.) For a different worldview, catch The Uptake’s interview here. Both dailies say confiscating equipment may violate city policy, though police says it’s evidence for an investigation.
Different arrests, police misbehavior?: The Strib’s Terry Collins notes three people were arrested during a “surprise sit-in” at Minneapolis HUD headquarters to protest a canceled meeting. KSTP complains that its photojournalist on the scene “was ordered by police not to videotape the demonstration, and pushed into an elevator.” MPR’s Tim Nelson offers a report from a third “former journalist” photographer who was searched, handcuffed and eventually released. The crime? Taking photos of a police van.
Staff Sgt. Brian Studer of Ramsey was killed in Afghanistan. The 28-year-old was disarming an explosive, the Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith and Paul Walsh write. Studer had planned to join a “nonpolitical, nongovernmental organization that specializes in the removal of war debris, including mines.” He is the fifth person with Minnesota connections to die in Afghanistan.
Minneapolis police are looking for a North Minneapolis serial rapist. The Strib’s David Chanen and Lora Pabst say one man has attacked five women in a 10-day span. Guns and knives were involved; the incidents shared “the same particularly violent sexual act.” In each case, the man described as black in his mid-20s with a medium height and build and cornrows assaulted a woman walking alone. Officers are checking area sex offenders.
Minnesotans’ median incomes have fallen through the decade, both dailies report, using Census stats. The Strib compares 2004-05 to 2006-07; median income dropped 2.8 percent, inflation-adjusted. The PiPress goes back to 2001 to show a 4.3 percent slide. The Strib says Minnesota’s median income is eighth-best in the nation; the PiPress says 10th-best. The income drop was biggest in Scott, Anoka and Wisconsin’s St. Croix counties, the PiPress’ Jennifer Bjorhus notes. (See MinnPost coverage here.)
State poverty: The Strib’s Warren Wolfe says 60,000 more people fell below the poverty line in the ’04-’07 time frame; the state poverty rate jumped from 8.2 percent to 9.3 percent. We were once fifth-best, now we’re ninth. Consider this fodder for Joe Biden in the upcoming vice-presidential debate. The good news: The Strib says 42,000 fewer people lack health insurance. More bad news: The PiPress says 2001-07 uninsured rates have jumped from 7.5 percent to 8.8 percent.
Gov. Pawlenty was “mobbed” by fans in Philadelphia, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. Ya kinda get the feeling he’s the guy, don’tcha? Stassen-Berger says Pawlenty displayed his “low-key but palpable charm.”
Partisan monkey-wrenching: Dems promise a bigger, nastier rapid-response operation in St. Paul, Stassen-Berger reports; bus shelters will feature posters of Bush and McCain hugging.
Best line of the RNC so far: A couple of enterprising barkeeps want to put a live pachyderm outside their front door, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin reveals. In turning down the request, St. Paul inspections chief Bob Kessler notes, “Nothing good can come of an elephant in a bar.”
Black tarp for the homeless?: Minnesota Independent’s Steve Perry reports that some Dorothy Day clients allege a “black curtain” will hide them from convention-goers, some clients allege. Officials say it’s for privacy. The curtain looks somewhat sheer in the video. Fox9 looks at the same issue.
RNC tidbits: A judge won’t expand a public viewing area near Xcel Energy Center that protesters sought, the Strib’s Randy Furst notes. Gov. Pawlenty will speak on the convention’s opening and closing nights, and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman will make two appearances, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba says. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and hopeful Erik Paulsen also get podium time.
KSTP shows surveillance tape of two Ramsey County deputies accused of corruption. The trial of Mark Naylon and Timothy Rehak is in the jury’s hands; they’re accused of wire fraud, theft of funds and conspiracy in an FBI-initiated sting. (See MinnPost coverage here.)
Kind of an amazing Duluth story: The city could fill half of its $6.5 million budget gap by selling a single Tiffany window. The Duluth News-Tribune says the City Council voted to sell a rather gorgeous 155-year-old glass portrait of an American Indian woman. A $3 million auction bid is possible for the 48-square-foot masterwork; the Christie’s auction house is awaiting a guarantee of at least $1.5 million. Opponents say it’s an irreplaceable bit of heritage.
Now Sonia Pitt has cost someone else their job: The Strib’s Tony Kennedy says an unnamed Homeland Security official who hired the disgraced ex-MnDOT emergency management director stepped down before being disciplined.
Do 72 percent of Minnesotans oppose a constitutional amendment dedicating state taxes to habitat and the arts? That’s what an MPR/Humphrey poll says; even amendment opponents are surprised, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere reports. Advocates of the 0.375 percent sales tax hike say the question was misleading. The pollmakers aren’t quoted.
The Strib editorializes against the Employee Free Choice Act because it eliminates the secret ballot if a majority of workers sign union “card checks.” That echoes Norm Coleman’s position, and might show up in ads, no? A Strib-sought expert says the act is “long overdue,” but that’s apparently not convincing.
More EFCA: The editorial calls for stiffer penalties for “employers who retaliate illegally,” but doesn’t mention enforcement laxity that often occurs. (In other words, you have to trust your administration.) The edit asks if we’d let school levies be decided by card-checks — no, but my school board can’t mandate I sit in a room and listen to their propaganda and unspoken threats, as employers now can.
Why do I find this depressing? Minnesota Lottery ticket sales hit an all-time high in fiscal 2008. Scratch games were the most potent math tax; the Strib’s Paul Walsh quotes an expert saying they’re not very addictive, just a good way to lose 40 percent over time. It does make one re-think democracy a bit. The state’s general fund and environmental/game funds reaped over $100 million.
Downballot: If you live in Ramsey County, there’s an eight-way judicial primary. Feel a little less like an idiot on Sept. 9 and read PiPresser Emily Gurnon’s overview.
A bunch of retired Supreme Court justices rejected a challenger’s attempt to knock a Supreme Court incumbent off the Sept. 9 primary ballot. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki says Jill Clark’s argued that Associate Justice Lori Gildea couldn’t be on the ballot because she was initially appointed. The ex-justices tossed that one quickly. Still, there’s a nice sum-up of the defeated plaintiff’s arguments.
SimonDelivers will be reborn as CobornsDelivers and restart in October. The Strib’s Steve Alexander says the grocery-delivery service’s new owners, a Central Minnesota grocery “fixture,” expects to benefit from economies of scale. The old SimonDelivers was a stand-alone operation. The attraction: 19,000 customers. No word on pricing.
Steve Foley, briefly of the Replacements, longer with Curtiss A and a heckuva drummer, died of an “apparent accidental drug overdose,” the Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider writes.
Nort spews: … and the road trip blues kick in; Twins lose to a Mariners nobody 3-2. With their fourth loss in a row, Minnesota falls two games behind Chicago.