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Daily Glean: An ACORN falls, but far from the fraud tree

In Wednesday’s local news roundup, Minnesota joins the voter-reg violation parade, but it seems less than it seems. Also: where bicyclists fear to pedal. And: St. Olaf gets petty.

Just yesterday, the Strib noted there’d been no local voter-registration complaints against ACORN, the group in hot water nationally for bogus sign-ups. Now there is one: Hennepin County is investigating a single supervisor for a “narrow violation” — not turning over registrations within 10 days, Fox9’s Tom Lyden reports. KSTP’s Joe Mazan says “hundreds” of registrations weren’t turned in for several weeks; the Strib’s Maria Elena Baca reports that the group blames an errant scanner.

More ACORN: The signees, like 43,000 other Minnesota ACORN registrants, will be able to vote. Ramsey County’s elections chief tells AP there are problems with “a very small percentage” of ACORN registrations, but nothing suggesting fraud.

MPR’s Tom Scheck compiles a fabulous local campaign ad-spending database. Turns out GOP causes ($16.6 million) top Democratic ones ($14.4 million). Norm Coleman ($4.5 million) noses out Al Franken ($3.9 million). Candidate committees have spent the most ($16.3 million) compared to political committees ($9.6 million) and special interests ($6.1 million). WCCO has earned the most ($9.3 million) with KSTP ($5.9 million) and Fox9 ($3.7 million) far behind. Scheck will update the data as the final weeks tick off.

One of Sheck’s interesting data points is that spending in a single congressional race — the west-metro 3rd District — is over $5 million, a third of the incredibly costly Senate race. Get ready for Michele Bachmann’s 6th District to move up the charts. The Strib’s Pat Doyle says national Democrats will kick $400,000 or more towards El Tinklenberg’s campaign. Right now, Tinklenberg has $357,000 cash-on-hand compared to Bachmann’s $1.4 million.

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Was Minnesota’s gas tax hike ultimately a kerfuffle? The Strib’s David Peterson says yes, based on interviews with pols. Turns out the price of gas has gyrated so much voters can’t connect the tax hike to today’s price. Dems say they’re getting thank yous at the door for the infrastructure infusion, while a Republican admits it’s “maybe not quite the issue it was.”

In the wake of several bicyclist fatalities, City Pages’ Bradley Campbell lists Minneapolis’ 10 most dangerous bike intersections. It’s a nice prod to allegedly bike-friendly city officials. Number one, by the way, is Central & Lowry. 26th Street and the LRT intersection. (Turns out they listed ’em from 10th to worst on the website.) Coincidentally, Fox9 reminds people of Cyclopath, the new web service that gives you bike-friendly — or at least friendlier — routes.

The state’s cram-down of public defender obligations hit Anoka County, which will spend around $180,000 to handle child protection petitions. State-paid p.d.’s used to handle this necessary work, the Strib’s Paul Levy writes. This is how a state budget stays balanced while you-know-what rolls downhill to localities that often have dramatically unequal resources compared to the need.

MPR’s Toni Randolph says Coldwell Banker has put 1,500 Twin Cities, Rochester and St. Cloud homes “on sale,” dropping prices 5-15 percent. Unfortunately, the 10-day promotion began the day the market crashed. Realtors are saying they’re not seeing many nibbles yet. But there will be lots of open houses this weekend.

The meat of Minneapolis’ $60 million schools referendum hasn’t gotten enough coverage, but the Strib’s Patrice Relerford checks out a local Chamber of Commerce forum and hears tough questions being asked. They should be fodder for a much longer, detailed pre-election piece.

Admitted tire-slasher Joseph Robinson made the first guilty plea to a Republican National Convention felony. He took out a charter bus’ wheels. The PiPress’ Emily Gurnon says he’ll be sentenced Dec. 12. A cop and a citizen chased down the vandal.

Today’s talker: the incredibly sadistic beating of a 24-year-old man born with Fetal Alcohol syndrome. Four men allegedly tied him to a tree, beat him with bats and burned him with cigarette lighters, the Strib’s Abby Simons and Mary Lynn Smith report. They were mad about what authorities say is an innocent friendship with a 16-year-old girl. One deputy calls it the worst beating he’s ever seen. The traumatized man’s life will become even smaller now, his mother notes.

Seems St. Cloud-area Republicans just can’t quit convicted wife-batterer Mark Olson. Even though the state rep, ejected from his House caucus, lost his primary, GOP delegates might back his write-in bid, AP reports. They endorsed him before the September election.

The PiPress’ Mary Divine crafts a great feature on Stillwater World War II soldiers who created a 180-vet “last man” club; only 15 are left. It was once men-only; now “wives, widows, companions are especially welcome.” Incredibly, it’s based on a Stillwater Civil War club; the last man there died in 1930. The World War I club’s last member passed in 1998.

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Sheesh. You’d think St. Olaf would want to keep the long-running “Save WCAL” dispute out of the headlines, but they get petty and deny the group’s board members seats for the school’s Christmas concert, the Strib’s Sarah Lemagie reports. Yes, WCAL has waged an indefatigable and quixotic battle to “save” a classical radio station that’s never coming back, but one board member nails it when she says the group shouldn’t be penalized for strongly held beliefs. Christmas — peace on earth, remember?

Bummer: Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole’s 25-year-old “Morning Show” is ending. The duo, heard on MPR’s classical station and now also on The Current, announced their Dec. 11 retirement this morning. MPR’s Euan Kerr says regular programming will replace the pair on both stations. It’s actually Poole (Tom Keith) who’s stepping down, though he’ll still do “Prairie Home Companion” sound effects; Connelly will develop MPR programming.