Regardless of your stand on the U.S. Senate race, there’s something tactically brilliant about Norm Coleman’s campaign. Al Franken’s challenger, Priscilla Lord Faris, has little money for a media campaign. So Coleman rebroadcasts Faris’ ad as part of his own commercial! PiPress’ Political Animal has the script. Faris, who claims she wants Coleman defeated, has been pounding all the GOP’s porn-esque Franken character attacks. KSTP’s Tom Hauser shows Faris not seeming to mind the GOP using her to advance their guy.
St. Paul’s local pride takes another hit as The Politico notes Republicans don’t want to come here. There’s the “nobody-likes-a-funeral” aspect, but there’s also the insinuation that St. Paul is too sleepy and too far from D.C. Interesting note: I’m not sure I’ve read how slow business has been for local hoteliers. The story claims “some of them were struggling until recently to meet their reservation expectations.” Worth the local folks checking out.
For the first time in years, St. Paul’s proposed budget is in structural balance, but businesses will eat higher taxes and everyone will see higher fees, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick reports. The carrot? Fourteen new cops, extended morning library hours and another “super medic” team. The stick? An 8 percent levy hike that bypasses value-dropping homes to hit busineses, plus double-digit sewer, recycling and building-permit fees. Mayor Chris Coleman says St. Paul’s fees still average less than those in Minneapolis or Bloomington.
More St. Paul budget: The PiPress editorial page offers qualified praise for the budget, noting it finally matches ongoing expenses with ongoing revenues, but notes the tax/fee increase amid an economic slowdown. Asking if the city can be run leaner, the editorialists suggest a proposed cop pay hike is overly generous.
A Blaine man died five hours after his wife was released from jail for trying to kill him. KARE’s Karla Hult says Noel Hanson’s death appears to be natural, with no trauma signs, yet “could be suspicious,” the PiPress’ Brady Gervais writes. Depression-wracked Sondra Hanson attempted a murder-suicide last winter, worried no one would take care of her ailing husband. She received 20 years’ probation and counseling, plus some jail time, instead of the recommended 15-year sentence.
Great read: The PiPress’ David Hanners offers a detailed look at the criminal who caught an alleged “dirty cop”: Taylor Winthorpe Trump, a crack dealer/accused mortgage fraudster/informant who authorities used to nail Minneapolis’ Michael Roberts. Trump’s incentive is clear: He faces a 20-year dealing sentence, and is charged with wire fraud and money laundering in a $2.5 million mortgage fraud case. There’s a ton more, and a ton of dirt for Roberts’ attorney to play as part of an entrapment defense.
Minnesota high-schoolers’ average ACT test scores topped the nation — but more than two-thirds will need remedial help in one or more subjects in college, the Strib’s Jeff Shelman reports. Only 40 percent hit the science readiness standard. There’s a decent-size gap between Anglo whites and minorities. Districts need early intervention, a state official says.
Minnesota is suffering through a moderate drought for the third straight summer, Minnesota News Network reports. Mitigating factor: cool temps for the second year in a row. Still, the Strib’s Chris Serres calls conditions “near ideal” for bumper corn and soybean crops, pushing record-high prices down a bit.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak offers $8 million a year to replace the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization program, once $20 million a year. The Strib’s Steve Brandt says 70 or so neighborhoods will split $3 million a year for operations, $4.5 million for neighborhood-planned projects and $500,000 for competitive grants. Target Center’s debt gets more money, $10 million a year, to retire debt in 10 years so money can be funneled to other purposes. (Disclaimer: I serve on my neighborhood’s board.)
Ameriprise gobbled up its third recent acquisition, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger notes. The latest: 900 H.R. Block financial advisers controlling $30 billion in assets for $315 million, strengthening the Minneapolis-based company in Florida, Texas and California. Earlier, Ameriprise bought an asset-management firm and a brokerage. Garrison-Spring says the company is sitting on a billion in cash and second quarter profits were up 7 percent despite a sales drop; the Strib’s Kara McGuire says uncommitted cash is more than $2 billion.
A federal report shows one in five Iraq War dollars went to private contractors; Al Franken’s campaign blasts Norm Coleman for not holding any hearings while chairing the Senate Permanent Investigations subcommittee, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. Coleman, a bear on Saddam’s Oil-for-Food program, says it wasn’t his job. In a bid for equivalency, Coleman’s campaign notes a federal report that many corporations didn’t pay federal income taxes and asks if Franken’s business did. Does Norm want to close those loopholes?
Political ticker: According to the PiPress’ Political Animal blog, independents like Al Franken’s ads better than Norm Coleman’s, Tim Pawlenty will face off with Democratic veep hopeful Evan Bayh on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Ralph Nader will hold an Orchestra Hall rally on the GOP convention’s last night. Minnesota Independent’s Tom Elko notes another Michele Bachmannism, this time likening Nancy Pelosi to Jesus — but not in a good way. Listen to Bachmann calling Pelosi a “fanatic” here.
The Minnesota ACLU predicts 800 arrests during the GOP convention, and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher agrees, the Strib’s Randy Furst notes. St. Paul cops think the number will be lower. There will be 75 defense lawyers ready. Fletcher says arrests will fall between 600 at the 2000 GOP convention and 1,800 in 2004.
An anti-poverty group had its GOP Convention protest permit revoked because police granted it before they “knew about other activities taking place at Xcel,” the Strib’s Randy Furst notes. Huh? Apparently President Bush’s late decision to speak that Monday was a factor — not quite sure why it should be. The cops also say too many protesters might show up, but didn’t they know that when granting the permit? The Welfare Rights Committee was offered a less-prime site, but a lawsuit might still result.
The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried looks at the St. Paul Police’s new “high-tech command center,” which monitors 45 surveillance cameras. The $2.1 million, two-office space can be used after the convention for big events. It’s joystick heaven for camera-manipulating cops. Hard drives store 10 days of data. KSTP reported Tuesday that you could watch the cameras from home during the convention, but Gottfried says not until later in the fall.
Local utilities liken convention logistics to handling “five or 10 Super Bowls — at once,” the PiPress’ Leslie Brooks Suzukamo writes. Qwest is installing 60,000 phone lines, equal to the number in Burnsville, and the convention will suck up enough juice to power 8,000 homes. (Something to know going forward: Xcel normally uses enough for 3,000 homes.)
In an absolutely un-stunning development, the Minneapolis School Board cut ties to the fiscally unsound Heart of the Earth charter school, the Strib’s Patrice Relerford writes. About 200 mostly American Indian kids are now without a building with the school year days away. The school didn’t fail, but the exec director who’s accused of pilfering tens of thousands of dollars is, a teary principal tells the board. The exec denies it.
Best Buy will start selling iPhones Sept. 7, AP reports. It’s the first third-party retailer to get a crack at the godhead gadget.
The Minnesota Orchestra won’t cancel a Sept. 14 Lake Harriet concert; Target came to the rescue. An anonymous donor also saved a 2009 European tour, the Business Journal’s Carissa Wyant reports.
Nort spews: Delmon Young hit a game-tying homer off New York’s Mariano Rivera, but the Twins still succumbed to extra-inning dingers by Alex Rodriguez and Xavier Nady. The 9-6 win puts the Twins back in second by a half-game. Matt Guerrier was the pitching goat.