You know, it’s Friday, the news this week has stunk, so let’s celebrate the best Twins game in at least two years by leading off with Nort Spews:
Who’s the s—head now, Buehrle? Go-Go Gomez was the goat-turned-hero in Minnesota’s thrilling, first-place-nabbing 7-6 win. It’s a day to luxuriate in Sore Losers. Here’s the Sun Times, with A.J. Pierzynski swearing here and Jermaine Dye questioning Sox fans here. In the Trib, Ozzie Guillen lauds the Twins here, Sox misery here, aging-player lamentations here, and a choke-psychology story here. Good times, but remember the Sox control their destiny; if they win out, they claim the division or force a playoff.
Back to bailout-bumming reality: WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad’s office has received 1,002 calls against the bailout and only 10 for it, and other congressfolk say their constituents are lining up the same way. Still, most sound like they will vote for it. The ubiquitous Michele Bachmann blames it all on Democrat-lovin’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac here. A punchless Strib editorial here.
More bailout: The Minnesota Daily’s Scott Heins covers an anti-bailout demonstration outside the Minneapolis Fed; Fox9’s report is here. City Pages’ Emily Kaiser reprints a giveaway-opposing letter from several University of Minnesota professors. The Business Journal’s Sam Black has a nice ground-level look at the mortgage meltdown’s business-to-business impacts here. The PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger talks to local CEOs about their personal panic-fighting investing stratagems here.
Train wreck coming? Proposed Northstar commuter rail fares aren’t high enough, says the Met Council via the PiPress’ Emma Carew. The numbers get a little scary: Big Lake-to-Minneapolis was proposed at $15 roundtrip. Fares are supposed to pay for a third of operating costs; the proposal only gets to 18-24 percent. Back-of-the-envelope math: Fares must rise around 50 percent. Would anyone pay $22.50 a day for a commuter train ride?
State-record embezzlement? The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger and Bill Salisbury quote a legislator saying maybe, after an alleged $1 million ripoff from the state’s Medical Assistance Program. Few details, but there’s this intriguing line: “The arrest of the state employee may have already occurred or may be imminent.” Umm, may be? Way to tip off the perp!
Remember that four-day school week a cash-strapped district announced last spring? It’s working great this fall, reports KARE’s Boyd Huppert. There are fewer absences in the MACCRAY schools because parents make appointments on Monday. Huppert doesn’t talk to folks with day-care problems, and test scores will help tell the educational tale. Coming to a cash-strapped district near you?
I’m thinking if KSTP’s Tom Hauser ever gives a political ad an “A” on his “Truth Test” segment, it probably isn’t a very effective commercial. But Hauser bestows a rare passing grade — B-minus — for an Al Franken commercial attacking Norm Coleman’s overseas trips. The “special interest” stuff is somewhat overstated, but the facts are basically solid.
How do you say “stop snitching” in Somali? Five Somalis have been murdered in Minneapolis since December, and some community members are calling out each other for not helping police, the Strib’s Jim Adams reports. Blame was also cast at the cops. Sad cultural signpost: Some at the meeting are mad police don’t cover victims’ faces more quickly. KSTP video here.
How a cop says “stop snitching”: The PiPress’ David Hanners reports that a Minneapolis officer admitted taking a gangbanger’s bribe money, but refused to fink on colleagues. “Do you guys honestly believe that I would ever give you that type of information?” Michael Roberts said, according to FBI investigators in a new court filing. Roberts claims no wider wrongdoing, and is now arguing entrapment.
AP says Tom Petters apologized to employees for Thursday’s workplace interruption: an FBI raid. He’s not talking to the press, but the raid centers on Petters Co. Inc., a financing company, a Petters spokeswoman said. Not many more details than that.
The proposed habitat/arts-funding constitutional amendment: on shaky ground. The PiPress’ Dennis Lien provides a nice overview of the issue, noting big groups have lined up on both sides and polls show a 50/50 split. The outdoor need is great, but the economy won’t help a tax hike. Constitutionally dedicating appropriations is a negative for some.
More amendment: The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba details a $100,000 Taxpayers League radio campaign opposing the amendment. The ad notes that “none of the tax increase is for education or health care.” Like the Taxpayers League would support that!
Who says there’s no housing market? Jessica Lange’s Stillwater home sold for $1.825 million; the 6,000-square-footer had been listed at $1.95 million this summer, the PiPress’ Mary Divine writes. The original 2004 listing price was $3.3 million, however.
Minnesota’s slacking economy: Twin Cities’ GDP grew just 1.5 percent from 2005 to 2006, less than half the national average, the PiPress’ Andrew Cummins reports. Rochester was best, but still below the national average, at 2.8 percent, while St. Cloud puttered along at 0.7 percent.
AP reports Upper Midwest sugar growers may destroy 10 percent of their crop. It’s to avoid processing losses. Glad we subsidize the stuff!
PiPress’ Opinuendo praises Dave Thune for holding an RNC forum Wednesday night. There are also evenhandedly kind words for Sheriff Bob Fletcher, even though Fletcher basically called Thune a dirty stinking hippie for hosting his meeting. AP says the first protester lawsuit is coming.
Picking up on a Wall Street Journal story, the PiPress’ Christopher Snowbeck says more gnarly details were revealed about a Medtronic doctor-bribing settlement. Improper incentives included “entertainment at a strip club, trips to Alaska and patent royalties for inventions in which the doctors had no hand.” The story reveals the whistleblower, a company lawyer in Tennessee, and says no Minnesota surgeons were identified.
Little story, big deal: The state gets two more weeks to negotiate a federal waiver allowing parents to be insured in a children’s health program, MPR’s Lorna Benson reports. If they fail, 18,000 parents are knifed and Minnesota loses $130 million — which is never good but especially not now. It’s one of those penny-wise things that’s even more infuriating amid a bailout backdrop.
The Strib’s Jim Foti says a Metro Transit bus cleaner nabbed a $150,000 victory representing herself; such triumphs almost never happen. A supervisor allegedly assaulted her; hostile workplace allegations remain to be resolved. Crazily, the cleaner wants a new trial, thinking she can get more now that she has better skills. For the love of Pete: Quit while you’re ahead!