MPR’s Tom Scheck finds an Anoka barber unafraid to utter the “n” word when assessing Barack Obama, and says local union officials are uneasy about racism among their own members. One political organizer says many members have never voted for a black, and may not pull the “D” lever this time. The answer? No perfect solutions, but supporters emphasize pocketbook issues and one-on-one persuasion. Obama’s Minnesota director downplays the problem. Question: Is the attention-getting barber a union guy?
According to the Mankato Free Press, on federal bailouts, Norm Coleman said, “The government could make 10 or 20 times what it pays on this, possibly.” MPR’s Mark Zdechlik says Al Franken pounced on that optimism as absurd. Coleman now says he was referencing the S&L bailout, but that cost $125 billion. The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere references the $1.5 billion Chrysler bailout of 1979. That one was profitable, but I couldn’t find a specific figure. Doubtful it returned $15 billion.
More Norm: Duchschere boils down an essential Franken-Coleman disagreement — Franken thinks judges should be able to modify mortgages in bankruptcy court; Coleman says that would increase lender uncertainty and raise rates for everyone. Not sure who’s right, but it’s worth noting that bankruptcy judges can modify most other contracts, and we still buy lots of big-ticket items (though less big than a home). On the flip side, AP highlights Coleman-Franken agreement on the issue.
Regardless of Norm’s struggles, Minnesota’s congressional delegation isn’t down with Henry Paulson’s plan. The PiPress’ Tom Webb and Rachel Stassen-Berger offer a roundup of everyone kvetching, including congressional challengers. The clarion call among many is an equity stake for taxpayers in bailed-out companies, though Michele Bachmann wants more offshore drilling to pay back costs. Only a couple of candidates issue a flat “no.” (MinnPost’s Doug Grow looks at the congressional delegation’s views here.)
Cost to ride the new North Star commuter rail line from Big Lake to Minneapolis? Fifteen bucks roundtrip, writes the PiPress’ Brady Gervais. Seems high, but parking can be that much, and you leave the driving to an engineer. It’s $8 if you’re coming in from Anoka. It’s only a proposal at this point; the public hearings are in October. The line opens next fall.
Everyone covers the return of “fugitive mom” Holly-Ann Collins, an allegedly battered wife who received asylum in the Netherlands 14 years ago with her kids. Her sentence was reduced to 40 hours of community service. City Pages’ Beth Walton has led the way on this one; she credits Collins’ daughter for effective campaigning. A court initially feared Collins would “psychologically manipulate” her kids, Fox9 observes. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson says the father, who still lives here, was consulted about the new arrangement.
The ripped-off, allegedly drugged Colorado RNC delegate’s goofy tale gets goofier. According to indefatigable PiPress scribe David Hanners, Gabriel Schwartz was right — police overstated his losses; it was $63,000, not $120,000 as reported. But what was the single dude-about-town doing with a $5,000 pearl necklace, $4,000 platinum earrings? A rookie Somali cop may have garbled the data, a Schwartz spokesman alleges. And yes, Bang & Olufsen apparently makes a $1,500 cellphone.
A super-genius strip club owner allegedly rigged an ATM to give him a million bucks. After reading James Walsh’s story, I’m still not sure how both the ATM customer and the Inver Grove Heights impresario, Lawrence Kladek, got paid, but it’s early in the morning. It’s a tale worth taking a whack at.
KSTP’s Tom Hauser says an ad ripping 3rd District GOP congressional candidate Erik Paulsen is mostly false or misleading. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad links Paulsen’s legislative votes on veterans’ cuts to golf course subsidy. Hauser says the cuts did happen during a recent budget crisis, but the golf course vote is essentially a sham issue and various tax and spending increases are overstated. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger looks at another ad attacking Paulsen on vets issues.
City Pages got a Wisconsin nuclear-plant employee fired. The alt-weekly publicized the man’s name on a fake-diploma list. He used to work in Minnesota.
CP also has interesting video of Starbucks unionization supporters being denied entry to the Mall of America. Authorities actually closed off a light-rail car the people were riding and made it turn back. From the unionizer-supplied video, their side was being reasonable. The mall is private property and can block entry, apparently.
Yikes: In tight budget times, the city of Minneapolis will spend another million bucks on its wi-fi system. A “dead zone” around Lake of the Isles necessitates stronger light poles, the PiPress’ Leslie Brooks Suzukamo notes. The city still claims it will save $3.5 million over 10 years as a user of the public-private system.
The Hennepin County Board said a very limited “yes” to a new Planetarium. It can now go atop the downtown library — if backers can raise $20 million, the Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka writes. The county limited its contribution to $250,000 a year, and some suburban board members complained the star chamber would only serve Minneapolis. Do they really believe that? The state has already granted $22 million for the project.
Patients in state-run health plans get worse coverage than the rest of us, a first-ever report notes. We already know that, the nonprofit surveyer tells the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson, but one finding is that some health plans have much narrower gaps. HealthPartners is a relative winner.
A Strib editorial praises a raft of education proposals from Gov. Pawlenty, but says he’s a wuss for not putting price tags on them and addressing funding problems. Pawlenty says he’s waiting for a budget forecast, but maybe he should’ve withheld his non-free initiatives, too.
Police used an errant dog hair to nail an alleged accomplice in the apparent murder of an Anoka woman strapped to a motorcycle, the Strib’s Paul Levy writes. The brother of the alleged perp was living in his car, with the dog, and the pooch’s hair was found at the crime scene. Guy had been kicked out of the house by his wife; the brothers were a couple of princes with women, apparently.
Whoa: The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission is suing the Minnesota Department of Corrections for age discrimination. Seems the lock-up folks only offer retiree health contributions if they step aside between ages 50 and 55, the Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith notes. That’s uncool, the feds say. The Strib’s Whistleblower has more here.
The feds are also investigating abuses at the scandal-plagued Minnesota Veterans home, the Strib’s Warren Wolfe reports. One Pawlenty administration says, in effect, what took you so long? However, the state says the feds can’t have patients’ individual medical records, citing privacy, and the matter might go to court. The guv transferred control of the home to the Veteran’s Department last year to improve services.
A mindblower from MnSpeak: The Science Museum is blogging the decomposition of a pig. Yeah, it’s as gross as you think. As MnSpeak’s Max notes, this is “the reason the web was invented.”
Nort spews: The Twins lapped the White Sox in the first leg of their head-to-head Triple Crown; Jason Kubel’s extra-base romping and Scott Baker’s masterful pitching led the way. The Twins are now a game and a half back. A delicious trio of Sore Losers here, here and here. Reminder: if the Whities win the next two, it’s over, and if they win one, it damn near will be. Tension!!