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Daily Glean: Tire Gauge Tim earns his own web page

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.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 08/05/2008 - 11:10 am.

    For an even more laughable misplacement of the GOP convention in Minneapolis, you don’t need Katy Couric. All you need is the gift that keeps on giving, Michele Bachmann:

    The Republican from the St. Paul suburb of Stillwater was asked by King whether she thinks Vice President Dick Cheney should attend the convention. Bachmann responded: “I think everybody should come to Minneapolis. It’s the most beautiful city in the United States. And everybody is going to want to come here. I think it will be tough to keep away from this city, it’s going to be so great.”

  2. Submitted by Tim Murray on 08/05/2008 - 01:37 pm.

    In your discussion about Ali Abdilahi, the man falsely accused of abducting a girl, you erroneously refer to the girl as “the victim.”

    Um, excuse me, but the only victim here is the man falsely accused. Why is it so terribly difficult even for newspaper reporters, who ought to know better, to shed the presumption of guilt when it comes to men falsely accused of crimes against women and girls?

    Likewise, the enlightened proseuctor has apparently flatly ruled out filing charges against the girl for making a false police report. Never mind that the REAL victim here suffered unspeakable harm because of the girl’s lie. The prosecutor is content to treat him as virtually all men falsely accused of sex crimes are treated — as unfortunate collateral damage. The theory goes that we must not discourage women and girls from “coming forward” so, heaven forbid, we must not charge them for a crime even when they have committed one. The fact is, only when false accusers are charged and punished in a manner proportionate to their lies will others be deterred from wantonly destroying other innocent men and boys.

    Most such false claims concern rape. Objectively verifiable data indicates that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false. Yet the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the radical feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. Sexual assault counselors often disingenuously refer to the fact of false rape accusations as a “myth.” Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

  3. Submitted by David Brauer on 08/05/2008 - 01:49 pm.

    Tim –

    Journalistically, I can’t quite go far enough as you. The prosecutor made it clear that she’s not prosecuting the girl for false claims, and her case against Ali could’ve been dropped for lack of evidence, not just because he was falsely accused.

    Of course, prosecutors’ word isn’t golden, but given that no one has proven the girl made a false claim here, I can’t take away her “victim” status.

    There are tons of questions, though. Thanks for reading.

  4. Submitted by Tim Murray on 08/05/2008 - 02:16 pm.

    David, I appreciate your response, but precisely who elevated this girl to the status of a “victim”? She is, in fact, a self-proclaimed “victim,” and I am unaware of any journalistic standard that justifies the use of this nomenclature for someone who the objectively verifiable facts tell us likely is NOT a victim. The falsely accused man seems every bit as much — and more so — a “victim,” does he not?

    At worst, we have one person’s word against another’s, with ample circumstantial evidence for rejecting out-of-hand the young lady’s account. It is wholly inappropriate to attach sanctity to her tale for no reason other than the fact that she made the claim. That is offensive to a man who is supposed to be presumed innocent, and who the facts tell us in all likelihood IS innocent.

    We owe it to all men falsely accused of similar crimes to stop presuming their accusers are “victims” when, because of the nature of the crime, it may never be possible to disprove the accuser’s account beyond any conceivable doubt.

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