A base Senate election in more ways than one? A new Star Tribune poll shows Norm Coleman leading Al Franken 41-37 percent, with Dean Barkley grabbing 13 percent — “less a credit to him than a measure of the growing disdain among voters for Coleman and Franken,” the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere writes. Margin of sampling error is 3.9 percent, and the partisan screen is 34 percent Dems, 31 percent GOP and 30 percent independents.
More Strib poll: Franken has cut the margin from 7 points in May; his unfavorable ratings top his favorables, but that might not matter if Barkley’s presence dilutes independents, leaving both parties to turn out their bases. The D’s have a bigger advantage there (perhaps larger than the Strib poll suggests), and Franken’s 78-8 margin there isn’t so far behind Coleman’s 87-2 with Republicans. With Dems spending Obama cash to boost turnout, Al may spring a surprise with Dean’s assist.
Idle polling thought: Why don’t these things ask people their second choice? I suspect many folks want to know who Barkley supporters are shifting from, as well as Dean’s standing among Coleman and Franken bases should their race get even nastier.
The Strib’s alarming ATV investigation looks at how the state pays trail-monitoring clubs who trash wetlands off the clock. A state official calls the betrayal progress because someone ratted out the club, which gets paid $34 an hour to watch trails the DNR can’t, David Shaffer and Tom Meersman write. A worthwhile multimedia package deploys hidden cameras and deep-voiced narrators.
Fox9’s Trish Van Pilsum takes a deeper look at a vivid example of RNC policing — and how cops tried to stop Fox9 from taping it. The story’s spine is an interview with an 18-year-old RNC passive resister who was drenched in mace and knocked to the ground by Minneapolis bike cops’ tires. A St. Paul officer shot pepper spray at Van Pilsum’s feet, telling her, “I know who you are,” as bike cops blocked camera angles.
More macing: Leah Lane, who was shouting “All you need is love,” says she forgives the cops, who aren’t commenting yet. Minneapolis Chief Tim Dolan says he’ll await a more comprehensive review. Lane says she felt “very wronged,” but wants to talk to the officers and understand what they were going through. Van Pilsum sets this up as a protester who defies stereotypes, and calls Lane “a true pacifist.”
Meanwhile, Fox9’s Beth McDonough looks at an incendiary art project on Minneapolis’ North Side. Two black artists have planted hundreds of lawn signs in a vacant lot, but instead of political candidates’ names, there are words like “Mandingo,” “bling,” “grits” and the ever-popular “N” word. The idea is to move the signs around like Magnetic Poetry and “explode language.” But one passer-by says “this is the biggest racial slap … I’ve ever seen.” The artists have a permit.
The Strib’s Judd Zulgad says the Vikings may turn to hospitality taxes to finance a new stadium. That oughta thrill the not-exactly undertaxed lodging industry. Indianapolis used a blend of county and regional hotel, rental car and restaurant taxes for its new retractable.
The PiPress’ Shanon Prather takes an in-depth look at whether Washington County is getting screwed by a new transit sales tax. The county kicks in $4 mil a year but stands to get back just a quarter of that. Big-city advocates get decent space to note the spine of a regional system is still being constructed in Minneapolis and St. Paul. One WashCo critic sounds a little more wait-and-see about the delayed payoff.
This is an old complaint from me, but the Strib editorial page again advocates increased offshore oil drilling without noting owner Avista Capital Partners has a very focused investment in that watery production method. I’ll continue to note this perceived conflict as long as they don’t. By the way, the editorial seeks a middle ground between “more offshore drilling” and “way more offshore drilling” while acknowledging it’s no panacea.
MPR’s Ambar Espinoza offers a nice update on a couple of Mexican immigrants who have begun their own organic veggie farm. The station profiled the Cala Brothers in 2006, when they were just learning about the process.
Nort spews: The Brad Childress Farewell Tour made its home debut with a depressing 18-15 loss to Indy; Tarvaris Jackson and Visanthe Shiancoe combined for zero touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Twins fell a game and a half back of Chicago; Minnesota lost 7-3 to lowly Baltimore and the White Sox swept a pair from Detroit. Good times.