Northwest Airlines got an anti-nuclear-proliferation billboard pulled from an MSP airport concourse. The $9,400 Union of Concerned Scientists ad shows the Twin Cities in the crosshairs: “When only one nuclear bomb could destroy a city like Minneapolis … We don’t need 6,000,” the Strib’s Terry Collins reports. AP quotes a billboard company spokesperson saying it’s “unsettling” to travelers. UCS says that’s the point.
More billboard: According to the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin, an NWA exec calls the ad a “petty political attack,” and another says it’s a “strong anti-McCain message.” However, a similar $5,900 Denver billboard aimed at Barack Obama is still up, the Strib’s Collins reports. An unrelated MSP ad attacking Obama is also being pulled.
Minnesota is back as a battleground state. A new SurveyUSA robopoll, via KSTP, has Barack Obama up 2 points on John McCain, 47-45, virtually duplicating an earlier, bigger, human-involved Quinnipiac University survey a few weeks ago. Both candidates have consolidated partisan support, but McCain leads narrowly among state independents.
Speaking of nukes: In Wisconsin for a VP trial run, Gov. Pawlenty’s line of the day: Barack Obama would “slam the door shut” on more nuclear power and off-shore oil drilling, AP reports. Dairy State Dems accuse Pawlenty of being uncivil, since his fundraising pays for misleading ads. Thus continues the Dems’ Weak Tea Summer.
More Veepstakes: If the D.C. site Politico is to be believed, McCain will put us out of our misery Aug. 29, when he’ll name his VP one day after Obama’s acceptance speech. Time’s Mark Halperin tells a St. Paul crowd McCain won’t pick Pawlenty, MNN reports.
I’ll have to start a new “RNC Convention Bust Story O’ The Day” feature, given drumbeat of disappointing news. Today, it’s host Elephant Man Norm Coleman saying he wouldn’t come if he didn’t live here, Fox9 reports. It’s yet another signal to lobbyists and other influence peddlers to keep their tawdry dollars at home. Then again, KARE’s Scott Goldberg notes a head shop inside the perimeter will stay open 24 hours a day. Did we factor protester spending into economic-benefit models?
Gustavus Adolphus’ president signed an initiative advocating an 18-year-old drinking age, Fox9 reports. About 100 college presidents back the move to reduce binge drinking. MADD isn’t happy about the so-called Amethyst Initiative, and neither are some high-profile college leaders. The Greeks believed amethysts warded off drunkenness if they were used in cups or jewelry. That’s your Greek Mythology 101 for the day.
Six in 10 Minnesota kids aren’t proficient in science, according to a new and newly released state test. For now, the no-stakes survey only ratchets up the pressure for science ed; about 180,000 fifth- through 12th-graders took the online exam this spring, AP reports. An Osseo researcher says the results contradict solid ACT test scores, but the Strib’s Emily Johns notes the ACTs only showed 40 percent proficiency. Still, Minnesota has posted recent high national and international rankings using other tests.
More science test: MPR’s Tim Nelson says scores should rise with familiarity. Anoka-Hennepin, which tested the test a year ago, has already made course adjustments. The PiPress’ Megan Boldt notes a gaping proficiency gap: 48 percent of whites versus 13 percent of blacks. Mahtomedi kids posted the best scores (78 proficient in high school), while St. Paul was the lowest (22 percent), though one Capital City public school hit 96 percent proficiency. The PiPress offers five sample questions (but no answers!).
Government that works: Two Twin Cities “DWI courts” have had only three re-offenders out of 183 participants, the Strib’s Libby Nelson reports. Each case costs Hennepin County $2,000, instead of $5,000, for a jail stay; the 18-month program has saved $500,000 overall. (Ramsey County’s program is 3 years old.) Offenders usually have three or more DWIs, but they agree to weekly monitoring and random police searches. The county does screen for drunks who want to change.
A few days ago, KSTP went hot and heavy on a bus driver who got stuck underneath a light-rail traffic arm, with passengers seemingly inches away from a crash. Now, Metro Transit says the bus was 49 feet from the train when it passed, WCCO’s Liz Collin reports. Collin says there was no flashing warning, and implies the arm came down late. KSTP says the driver approached as the arm was lowering, but did the right thing by stopping, rather than accelerating.
Disgraced philandering liar John Edwards has canceled plans to speak at a Harriet Island Labor Day rally, the Strib’s Randy Furst notes. The bill still seems pretty amazing: Billy Bragg, Mos Def, Steve Earle, Lupe Fiasco, Allison Moorer and Tom Morello and Friends. Tickets are just $10, through Ticketmaster, or free if you’re an SEIU member.
The Strib’s David Chanen writes Minneapolis will pay $26,000 to a man permanently injured by a cop — after paying the cop $25,000 for defamation. Ex-chief Bill McManus publicly slammed officer Victor Mills after the media showed video of Mills deviating Joel Ramos’ septum. Mills claimed McManus violated the Data Practices Act by mouthing off.
Note on the strikeout that follows; the Strib’s Steve Brandt says KSTP’s information is wrong, and a Minneapolis City Council committee has forwarded a settlement offer without recommendation to the full Council. The item remains so people are aware of the change:
Minneapolis paid $15,000 to an employee who claimed her boss sexually assaulted her. KSTP says the former head of the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone, Jonathan Palmer, resigned last December, ostensibly to run for the state House of Representatives, though he didn’t file this summer. The story does not say if Palmer was ever charged.
Motorcycle crashes and injuries hit a 17-year peak in 2007, though a lower percentage of deaths resulted, says the Strib’s Bill McAuliffe. Middle-agers lapping up a “sense of adventure” accounted for nearly half the deaths, MnDOT says; 29 for the 45-to-60 group, compared with nine among 15-to-30-year-olds. Impairment-level drinking was a factor in a third of the deaths, 55 percent were in solo crashes, two-thirds of accident victims weren’t wearing helmets. Motorcycle registrations have doubled from 1996.
The PiPress’ Richard Chin has some fun with a new trend: bike commuters who may stink up the workplace. Minneapolis requires new office buildings to have showers, but that’s obviously only a partial solution at this point. “I never had any complaints from my colleagues about my slovenliness or unpleasant odors coming from my direction,” says one pedaler. Of course, he was the boss. There’s talk of “bird baths” and sub-sweat speeds.
Judge Jesse? Citing TV Week, WCCO’s Pat Kessler says ex-guv Ventura is “deep in negotiations” for a TV court show. There are currently 11 such shows on the market with three more coming, according to Forum Communications’ Don Davis. One expert tells Kessler such shows are “no heavy lifting,” which appears to be a Ventura requirement these days. Why not leverage Ventura’s WWE proclivities and the UFC rage and have him referee in an octagon?
Nort spews: The Twins resumed life in second place, losing to Oakland 3-2. There’s no real news here, but KSTP says the Vikes are more interested in a Metrodome renovation, rather than strictly new construction.