A new MPR/Humphrey Institute poll shows Barack Obama up by 10 points in Minnesota. However, John McCain would jump 13 points (PDF) if he picks Gov. Pawlenty, MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports. This contradicts other polls showing a smaller Obama margin and a negative Pawlenty GOP-ticket impact. Thirteen percent of voters said race affects their decision — how, the story doesn’t say. The 763-person survey has a sampling error margin of plus/minus 3.6 percentage points. Self-ID-ed Dems made up half the respondents.
Related: Local Republicans seem sure John McCain won’t pick a “pro-abort” vice-presidential nominee, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger writes. Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge have been mentioned. State GOP chair Ron Carey called McCain’s local rep to decry the possibility. Norm Coleman thinks anti-choicers will support the ticket anyway, noting that McCain has promised judges who’ll drive pro-choicers crazy.
Vaguely related: Pat Kessler drops multiple on-air f-bombs reading viewer email critical of recent Reality Check political segments. Surprisingly, Jesse Ventura fans seem to deploy the epithet frequently. Unsurprisingly, WCCO bleeps out Kessler. It’s pretty darn funny. OK, back to substantive news …
The corruption trial of Ramsey County deputies continues, with damning testimony from a third deputy victimized by what the defense calls a “practical joke.” The “joke” victim, Rolland Martinez, says he didn’t grill defendant Mark Naylon about belatedly returning $6,000 because Naylon was a crony of Sheriff Bob Fletcher, the PiPress’ David Hanners reports. It sounds like the trio lied to a judge when their search warrant application identified Deputy Naylon as the “confidential reliable informant.”
In a bipartisan Strib op-ed, state Sens. Geoff Michel and Terri Bonoff complain that no one’s talking, reporting or blogging about the $2 billion deficit Minnesota faces as Election Day approaches. We’re all obsessed with Obama-McCain and Coleman-Franken, but should press legislative candidates and other state electeds about how they’ll fix a deficit, they say. It could, if all goes to hell, rival 2003’s crushing $4 billion hole. Right on.
This is pretty darn smart, and pretty darn sad: Officials will provide foreclosure counseling at the Minnesota State Fair. Finance and Commerce’s Bob Geiger reports that the state Commerce Department and Minnesota Home Ownership Center will set up shop in the Education Building. Foreclosure advice has been given at the Fair before, but it’s the sole focus this year. The Fair opened today.
MPR’s Dan Olson offers a good explainer on unemployment rates — there are six, and according to one, the jobless rate is 10.3 percent, not the oft-stated 5.7 percent. The higher rate includes “discouraged” workers who’d work but aren’t looking, and underemployed folks wanting more hours. Olson talks to some at a Minnesota Workforce Center. Why does the media only report the lower number? One expert guesses it’s the middling choice. Olson can’t find a number for Minnesota’s include-all jobless rate.
Minnesota American Indians have “dramatically” higher cancer rates than whites, and even more than Indians elsewhere, MPR’s Tom Robertson reports. Liver and gallbladder cancers are triple the white rate; stomach and gallbladder rates are double, the Strib’s Maura Lerner writes. Is at least the former about alcoholism? One researcher cites “diet, genetics and higher rates of smoking” — area tribes are tops in lung cancer. Colorectal cancer rates here top white rates, but in the Southwest, native rates are half as much.
RNC Protest Stories O’ The Day: Twin Cities police will debut 30-second public service TV ads calling for peaceful protests. Fox9’s Ellen Galles says cops make the point they’re not against protest, only violence. Police and civilians are featured. MPR’s Laura Yuen has a nice piece on a “street medic” program that will help out injured and dehydrated demonstrators. The cops say beware these amateurs. AP has a quickie rundown on federal and local security forces.
Government that works, to an extent: The city of St. Paul is doing much better than the private sector at hiring nonwhite and female contractors, the PiPress’ Tad Vezner writes. However, the share of city bucks going to such contractors trails the percentage of area minority- and women-owned businesses. There’s squishiness — the business count doesn’t necessarily reflect worker numbers, and lumping minorities and women together obscures more specific truths.
Minnesota on-the-job fatalities keep falling, Finance and Commerce’s Brian Johnson reports. Deaths declined from 87 in 2005 to 78 in 2006 to 72 last year. Leading causes, in order: transportation accidents, contact with dangerous objects, and falls.
City Pages’ Jonathan Kaminsky notes that 1,100 farmers, most from Minnesota, are finally getting $32 million in a chemical-fraud suit seven years after jurors handed them a victory. Chemical giant BASF engaged in shady herbicide marketing. The farmers filed suit in 1997. Their attorneys spent two years figuring out how to divvy up the cash, slowed because one died a month before the check arrived. The lawyers, by the way, got about as much as the farmers.
The PiPress’ Jennifer Bjorhus laments the Oct. 1 loss of down payment “gift” programs that let homebuyers off the cash-up-front hook. Although it sounds like a tactic to let shaky buyers purchase homes, Bjorhus says nonprofits use the technique to expand the homebuying pool. The “gift” comes from sellers who funnel downpayment-equivalents through nonprofits. The feds say such buyers have triple the foreclosures, but congressional minority caucuses want gifting reinstated.
T-Mobile has unveiled high-speed data service for local phone customers, the PiPress’ Julio Ojeda-Zapata reports. Verizon and Sprint have such web- and email-friendly service nationwide; iPhone-enabled ATT’s network is “spotty.”
Good news, bad news: downtown St. Paul’s iconic and long-closed Original Coney Island Tavern will open for the Republican National Convention — but won’t serve coneys, the PiPress’ Nancy Ngo writes. Apparently, reopening a kitchen is tougher than reopening a bar. The joint has been shuttered since 1994, and for now, will only open Aug. 29 to Sept. 4.
Local businesses are offering discounts for shoppers who stay here for the RNC, everyone reports. It’s a pretty long list; the Renaissance Festival is offering a two-for-one deal, for example. You can find the “AwardMSP” coupons here, but you have to sign up by day’s end Friday.
WCCO’s Esme Murphy says State Fair food prices are going up, withincreases in the 25-cent range, according to her “informal” survey.
My favorite story of the month so far: Detroit Lakes’ evil, forest-destroying, colony-producing wild boar turned out to be a potbellied pig. A landowner shot the 80-pounder and plans to eat it, the Strib’s Doug Smith reports.
The 7-foot-tall, bank-robbing getaway-driving high school basketball star was a bigger screwup than you thought, the PiPress’ Rhoda Fukushima says. Anthony DiLoreto marooned his partner after filling-and-fleeing when a Wisconsin gas pump rejected his credit card. An unnamed 16-year-old robber says the heist was his idea, not DiLoreto’s. It’s a Stupid Criminal escapde worth reading.
The U planted a bunch of drunk-seeming folks at 16 sports stadiums and three-fourths got served, the Strib’s Libby Nelson writes. One in four underage plants also obtained alcohol. It didn’t matter which major sport they saw. Researchers are dummying up about which venues failed miserably. A Metrodome official says, “Not here!” but a Dome vendor tells the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson that “a few” colleagues have been fired for serving underaged Minneapolis police decoys.
Nort spews: Francisco Liriano found the plate just enough to defeat Oakland 3-1; the Twins now embark on a 14-game, four-city trail of tears. Sore Loser here. If you’re into Olympic gymnasts, they’ll hit Xcel Energy Center Nov. 9, the Strib’s Tim Harlow notes.