God hates the IRS, or at least “politically motivated” audits, says Twin Cities power preacher Mac Hammond. In a letter to congregants, Hammond called the recent probe a “very clear effort” to “discredit, defame and intimidate … prosperity gospel” ministers, the Strib’s Jon Tevlin reports. Hammond says auditors fear the “moral imperative” and “growing wealth and influence” of congregations like his. The IRS wants Brooklyn Park’s Living Word Christian Church to cough up documents about possible illegal Hammond enrichment.
More Hammond: Tevlin says Hammond’s mention of a “nationwide effort” refers specifically to conservative Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, who’s apparently from the Mammon, not God, wing of his party. Hammond is a public backer of more publicly pious U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. Grassley says he’d never heard of a prosperity gospel before his probe, which he says extends throughout nonprofit tax policy. Iowa Republicans recently denied Grassley an RNC delegate slot.
A judge dropped a couple of corruption counts against two Ramsey County deputies; six counts remain. The PiPress’ David Hanners says there was insufficient evidence to show the men stole FBI-planted cash from a car; charges from a hotel-room sting remain. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson notes the judge will release surveillance videos today, under media pressure. Thanks to the Strib, PiPress and KSTP-TV for fighting for this. See MinnPost coverage here.
St. Paul has topped its 3,500-officer goal for the Republican National Convention, Fox9’s Tom Lyden reports. However, the 3,640 total includes several who aren’t really cops: 50 Minnesota National Guardsman and 200 state prison guards can’t arrest anyone unless the governor calls an emergency (such as his not getting the VP nod). Sixty volunteer “Explorers” volunteers also count. And, 150 officers are coming from John McCain’s home state of Arizona. Lyden allows this all might be something of a shell game.
KSTP’s Bob McNaney says for the first time, federal air marshals will ride light-rail trains during the Republican National Convention. Non-uniformed pros can better spot some furtive troublemaking, but there will be plenty of uniformed officers in the cars, too.
Don’t look now, but Northwest acquirer Delta just drew $1 billion from its credit line, AP notes. The company’s liquidity declined by $600 million in July, but there’s still $3.7 billion there, including the credit line. The company will spend $600 million integrating the two airlines; the feds have not yet approved the merger. Vaguely related: An airport Houlihan’s restaurant opened, the first outside the security perimeter, the Business Journal’s Carissa Wyant reports.
Suffering a fusillade of Democratic ads about his cushiness with oil interests, Norm Coleman proposed an alternative-fuel trust fund filled by offshore oil lease cash. Coleman predicts hundreds of billions will flow into the fund, boosting domestic energy supplies across the board, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere writes. The PiPress’ Dennis Lien notes the cash could fund needed transmission lines. No one notes the public will be on the hook for hundreds of billions in nuclear-power plant liabilities, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.
More Coleman: Al Franken’s take? You can’t trust a guy in Big Oil’s pocket, and we could fund this by taking away $13 billion in oil industry tax breaks.
More Franken: Forum Communications’ Scott Wente notes Franken faces a half-dozen opponents in the Sept. 9 DFL primary, including 2006 Independence Party nominee Rob Fitzgerald. Aside from Fitzgerald and Coleman sidekick Priscilla Lord Faris, the other four candidates are perennials or moribund, Wente observes.
Crop art skews left: The Chaska Herald’s Mark Olson wanders over to the State Fair and asks “Where are the GOP crop artists?” Offering lavishly illustrated proof, there’s some Barry Obama worship, lots of elephant-poop jokes, and a bowler’s revenge on Norm Coleman. Olson, who sounds like a Republican type of guy, notes with dismay “one scarecrow all ripping the GOP to shreds.” I smell a future Katherine Kersten column: “The dark barn of the soul.”
The Strib’s Neal St. Anthony says the months-old Columbus, Minn., harness-racing track is already in the financial dumper. The track’s co-owners have defaulted on a $41.7 million construction loan and face foreclosure. One, which lost a lucrative casino-management contract elsewhere, has put its 50 percent interest up for sale. The owners say the track is finally cashflowing, thanks to a new card room. St. Anthony notes it’s tough times for the ponies; Canterbury Park just reported its first quarterly loss in eight years.
MPR’s Tom Robertson goes deep with a report on non-prime farmland’s rising price. In a north-central Minnesota county cluster, land prices are up 150 percent in a few years, but hunting, not food, is behind the rise. The acreage contains forest as well as farmland.
You don’t see outstate unemployment figures much, so here’s one: Winona’s 5.5 percent July rate ties a high since 1993, the Winona Daily News’ Mark Sommerhauser reports. The rate was 3.7 percent two Julys ago and doesn’t count 200 recent layoffs at an auto plant. Winona’s figure is just a hair under the state rate.
Duluth will raid housing, downtown and tourism funds to plug a $6.5 million deficit, AP’s Brandon Stahl reports. At $1 million, the fund-diversion will plug less than a sixth of the gap. Layoffs and service cuts such as library closures are still part of the picture.
On Monday, I kveched no one was reporting on Minneapolis’ contested school board primary in advance of the Sept. 9 event, but the Southwest Journal’s Dylan Thomas came through with the substantive candidate-forum dispatch here.
A Wright County judge kept teen-killing alcohol-impaired driver Dylan Kaskinen out of prisoneven though Kaskinen violated probation by repeatedly smoking pot. The Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada says the man, who police say had at least a .06 blood-alcohol concentration during the crash, will still get a year in jail plus drug and mental illness treatment, but MADD folks are mad; they say Kaskinen should’ve gone to prison initially, and definitely now. A four-year prison sentence and 10-year probation still hangs over his head.
Back to the fair: PiPress freelancer David Hawley visits honeybee exhibitors and discovers the U has bred a bee that better resists colony collapse disorder, which has devastated many hives. There are lots of theories why hives are suffering, but small beekeeping operations fare better than commercial ones, Hawley says.
The PiPress’ Julio Ojeda-Zapata chronicles couples who use Twitter’s 140-character-limited messages to send each other “tweet nothings.” It is weird, frankly, because half the point of Twitter is having people follow your tweets; some voyeuristic types must like viewing others’ mash notes. Others just update their whereabouts, which eliminates the yuck factor. Ojeda-Zapata is an authority; he has a book out about Twitter in the workplace. Speaking of, I’m at @dbrauer if you want to sample my banality.
Courtesy of an anonymous emailer to the snarky sports site Deadspin: Ex-Viking Fred Smoot’s vacant Eden Prairie home features chest-high weeds and neighbors are considering a lawsuit. The house’s price, unsurprisingly, has fallen from $1.2 million to $849,000, but the emailer says Smoot’s Realtor can’t get a hold of him. The Love Boater, who hasn’t played for the Purple since 2006, was always such a responsible dude.
Nort spews: Joe Nathan blows a save and the Twins drop their third in a row on the road to the annoying Mariners 4-2 in 11. Minnesota is a game back of Chicago. In the good news department, Everyday Eddie Guardado is back, and the stat you need to know is that lefties are batting .220 .167 against him. Unfortunately, he pitches to right-handers, too, but overall his batting average against is .220. Both dailies report hotshot Gopher quarterback recruit MarQueis Gray has had his ACT scores red-flagged, and is currently ineligible.