Republican Jim Ramstad and Minnesota Democrats helped pass an offshore drilling bill, the New York Times reports. Michele Bachmann and John Kline were the only locals voting “no” on the bill, which would allow drilling 100 miles offshore and as close as 50 miles if states approve. Utilities would get a 15-percent energy mandate by 2020, oil companies would lose tax bennies and face tighter leasing rules. But no local media outlet gets quotes from the local pols about their positions.
Small point for our increasingly visual world: The Strib’s “How They Voted” graphic on the drilling decision initially confused me; each rep’s row is marked by both an X and an equally strong black box, either of which could indicate assent. Just X’s or boxes next time, please.
Prosecutors declined to press felony riot charges were dropped against two “Democracy Now!” producers arrested during the RNC, the PiPress’ Emily Gurnon notes. The arrests went nationwide when “DN!” host Amy Goodman was also arrested for trying to go through a police line to her colleagues. The city of St. Paul has the option to file gross misdemeanor charges against the producers; a city attorney says a decision in all three arrests will be made “soon.”
Related: The PiPress’ Dave Orrick pries out a few more details about St. Paul’s RNC investigation. It will look at whether officers properly handled a Thursday mass roundup of protesters (and others) on the Marion Street bridge. As earlier reported, there will be lots of looking at plans, but not individual cases. Orrick calls the review “ the most expansive government-sanctioned examination of security measures surrounding the convention,” but what’s the competition, really?
Also related: The New York Times looks at the RNC policing controversy. Not much new to locals, but this is another of those “national impressions” Americans will get of St. Paul.
The brash-talking Colorado RNC delegate ripped off for $120,000 worth of bling now says police inflated the total, the PiPress’ David Hanners reports. It was only $50,000! Cops say, “Yeah, right — we got the figures from you.” The victim, Denver defense lawyer Gabriel Schwartz, may not be the most reliable witness: He disavowed convention comments like “less taxes and more war” as a joke. MPR’s Bob Collins has a beef with Hanners’ Day One focus on Schwartz’s politics.
Best Buy missed earning expectations by a whopping 9 cents a share. The PiPress headline blames a “spending spree” on build-out costs for in-store mobile phone centers; reporter Gita Sitaramiah quotes one analyst saying the company did a “poor job” on cost controls. The Strib hed references a “silver lining”: Best Buy gained market share and sales went up, but the company expects a slight slowing in consumer spending, Steve Alexander reports.
A Strib poll says Gov. Pawlenty’s approval rating holds steady at 54 percent, while in the past four months, his disapproval mark has dropped 6 percent, to 31 percent. The poll was taken after Pawlenty fell short of John McCain’s ticket.
MPR’s Dan Olson goes all Debbie Downer on the eve of 35W Bridge Reopening Day, noting the fiscal stars won’t align this way for other projects soon. The feds are tapped with gas-tax revenues plunging, and the state still must pay back early-decade borrowing costs. One legislator says the state gas tax will be dead in a decade, replaced by a mileage tax and some rejiggering of the sales tax.
State doctors are righteously upset with Blue Cross for waiving co-pays only for store-based clinics, the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson writes. The insurer says store clinics save the insurer $1.25 million a year, but Minnesota Medical Association members say they need those patients to keep their more comprehensive clinics profitable. Store clinics don’t spot more serious problems and don’t do follow-ups, the docs claim.
Seven people delayed a Hopkins High contraception clinic that would test for STDs. Most complainers at a recent meeting lived outside the district, the Strib’s Aimée Blanchette reports. A survey showed most Hopkins seniors were sexually active, prompting the proposal. The superintendent wants to arm the board with more info, but it’s unclear when the clinic will be reconsidered; Hopkins kids now have to travel 10 miles for such services.
Willmar public schools won’t change policies giving Muslim students more prayer time during the school day, MPR’s Ambar Espinoza says. Too disruptive to normal classes, plus Somali parents agreed to lunchtime-only prayer six years ago. The parents say their kids will “reluctantly” attend. It almost makes you wish folks would welcome a charter school where voluntary prayer can be accommodated without disruption while teaching a secular curicullum.
Related: KARE11’s Boyd Hupert reports Somalis at the Southdale Macy’s received job-threatening letters for speaking their native tongue on the job. A Macy’s boss says Southdale supervisors got the company’s policy wrong and will “thoroughly investigate” the situation.
A sex offender on probation cannot be returned to jail just because no one will take him in, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled. The PiPress’ Emily Gurnon says Washington County has no transitional housing for sex offenders, and the man was turned down elsewhere, but the county still must find placement somewhere.
What the …? Tonka Bay’s city government will charge the League of Women Voters to hold a candidate forum at City Hall, the Strib’s Laurie Blake reports. The payment is nominal — $50 plus a $300 damage deposit — but troubling for a mostly volunteer group aiding democracy on a $1,600 annual budget. The fee covers energy costs and cooling, and the council voted 3-2 vote not to waive it. As it turns out, Tonka Bay has no contested elections so no forum is needed, but the precedent is set.
City Pages’ Beth Walton, who wrote an in-depth piece on the “no-kill animal shelter” debate, says one Minneapolis council member will push for some philosophically similar policies at the Minneapolis Animal Shelter. Realistic? Stay tuned, but animal lovers will want to read Walton’s update.
Nort spews: In 1984, Gary Gaetti uttered the most bracingly honest quote in baseball history after a young Twins team lost to Cleveland to fall out of a pennant race: “It’s hard to throw with both hands around your neck.” Joe Nathan knows that feeling after last night’s 11-inning loss to Cleveland, which puts Minnesota 2.5 games back of Chicago with 11 left to play. Nathan gave up two hits, including a homer, plus a walk in a third of an inning.