Flattery: The Democratic National Committee attacks Gov. Pawlenty on its “Next Cheney” web site, the PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger notes. Pawlenty’s page frames the Democrat’s case, reminding us that in ’05, Pawlenty said he would stand with George Bush “if his approval rating was 2 percent.” It also notes 2002’s state-record $600,000 campaign fine, and generally says he’s a good guy to get you into an infrastructure crisis, not out of one. Pawlenty is listed first among “Next Cheney” hopefuls, by the way.
Republican Convention protest story o’ the day: St. Paul officials staged a press conference saying they will, but don’t yet, have 3,500 police for the event, the PiPress’s Jason Hoppin reports. Fox9’s Tom Lyden says Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher didn’t attend and believes security isn’t adequate. Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko detects desperation because firefighters serve as a “public safety presence.” They’re not licensed police officers. “They wouldn’t want us fighting our fires,” sniffs a St. Paul police union official.
More protest: The Strib’s Anthony Lonetree says recruiting may move out of state. KSTP’s Mark Albert says RNC training is helping blow up the Minneapolis police overtime budget. However, the department has been over budget four years in a row — this would make five — making the convention seem less culpable. Despite the overtime fretting, the cop shop is under budget overall.
Remember that potential transit strike I led with yesterday? Not gonna happen; 83 percent of Metro Transit drivers approved a two-year deal, the Strib’s Terry Collins and Tim Harlow report. Workers get raises of about 2 percent per year, and will make about 24 bucks an hour during the deal’s life.
Olga Franco’s defense started Monday; she’s accused of driving the van that killed four Cottonwood, Minn. kids. The PiPress’s Frederick Melo says lawyers presented evidence Franco couldn’t drive (not necessarily exculpatory, and perhaps damning?) and spent a lot of time explaining how Franco got trapped on the driver’s side even though they claimed she was a passenger. Franco’s lawyers are trying to pin the crime on a fugitive boyfriend.
A judge admitted he screwed up in a high-profile music-
downloading case, and Jammie Thomas might get a new trial, MPR’s Bob Kelleher reports. Judge Michael Davis says he improperly instructed the jury that placing a song on a server was a copyright violation; a precedent said a civilian had to download it. Industry lawyers say the screw-up isn’t big enough to undo the verdict; Davis will make a decision by October. Weren’t post-settlement talks going on?
It’s not quite “nation of whiners” talk, but Minneapolis Fed President Gary Stern sounds sanguine about the U.S. economy as he prepares to vote for higher interest rates. Strib editorial writer John Rash says Stern sees few if any parallels to the Depression, or even more recent recessions. On the flip side, he doesn’t promise significant immediate inflation relief.
Intriguing: The St. Paul Port Authority recommends the Rock-Tenn plant be powered by “biogas” — bacterial breakdown of corn and manure, the Strib’s Chris Havens reports. The plant lost its coal-fired plant in an environmental upgrade; this would be a green replacement. The gas would be piped from a rural facility. Rock-Tenn likes it, and so does the community, notes the Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Mary Turck. However, federal subsidies are needed; the state has already ponied up $4 million.
MPR’s Dan Olson says that a recent leveling off of the state’s homeless population may be over. The Wilder Foundation chronicled the slight decrease between 2003 and 2006, but its 2009 survey should be up, given a 6 percent jump in Moorhead shelter use, and 13 percent hike among families in Ramsey County. Olson compiles a lot of data, and it’s all depressing.
With Congress on vacation, 2nd District Rep. John Kline flew back to D.C. Monday to join a Republican protest on the adjourned House floor, AP’s Frederick Frommer writes. Protesters want a House vote on offshore drilling; Dems want other energy-policy changes. Kline’s opponent, Steve Sarvi, calls the congressman’s actions “showboating,” given the $118,000 Kline has received from oil interests. Kline calls the attack “insulting,” saying he’s long wanted to drill everywhere, including ANWR.
Prompted by the DFL’s hiring of a George Bush impersonator to follow Norm Coleman around, Stassen-Berger offers a nice history of Minnesota political stunts. A Coleman staffer was half a pair of flip-flops following John Kerry around; Minnesota Democrats Exposed’s Michael Brodkorb was a duck lampooning Skip Humphrey’s debate refusal, and there have been numerous — and bipartisan — chicken-suit sightings. KSTP has video of the faux Bush.
Hennepin County has begun tearing down 100 Minneapolis homes, and the Strib’s Steve Brandt watched the first one go down Monday. All but six of 96 currently slated demolitions are on the North Side; tearing them down costs $1.25 million. Neighborhood leaders applaud. For some reason, the first home was stuffed with photocopy machines and office equipment. KSTP offers the video.
Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard asks “What’s wrong with St. Paul?” and exhaustively catalogues a list of Capital City development woes. Despite a flashy Chris Coleman “development strategy” press conference, no groundbreakings are scheduled and many of the touted projects are moldy. The city hasn’t seen a new big building since ’99, existing stock is mocked, and meta-trends still favor Minneapolis, Gilyard writes.
The Strib’s Anthony Lonetree chronicles the strange case of Ali Abdilahi, the accused wheelman in a rape; charges were dropped last week. Along the way, his mug shot was flashed on TV, he lost two jobs, his car and his reputation. Prosecutor Susan Gaertner offers little sympathy — she pointedly says she won’t file false-claim charges against the victim. (Abdilahi says the girl told him she was beaten by a friend.) Video and some circumstantial evidence backs up Abdilahi.
Outrageous: As the Lake Phalen-area community was marching to support a cancer sufferer whose arm was broken with a baseball bat, two more people were assaulted with hardwood on the same lake, the PiPress’s Bob Shaw and Mara Gottfried report. Police arrested three Asian males in Monday’s assault; they “roughly match the description of assailants” in the earlier beatings. The most recent victims had only minor injuries.
Today’s talker: A Cass County 25-year-old was arrested for driving 80 in the wrong lane, possibly under the influence … while texting. The Strib’s Lora Pabst writes that the driver almost hit a deputy’s car, then took off at nearly 100 miles an hour.
Traffic roundabouts are improving safety while bewildering drivers, the Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka notes. The confusion about who has the right of way (inside lanes) is apparently harmless because drivers are going so slow. One converted Richfield intersection has seen crashes fall, but there have been six minor crashes at a circle near a new Target/Home Depot development. Don’t text!
For all you St. Paulites who go nuclear every time some media type mentions the Republican convention in “Minneapolis,” check out Katie Couric’s on-air apology last night.
Nort spews: I saw six of the 10 runs the Twins gave up in the seventh inning before going to bed, disgusted. Minnesota loses to horrible Seattle 11-6 to fall percentage points behind Chicago in the A.L. Central. Gardy left a faltering Glen Perkins in too long, but the bullpen was no prize, either.