Remember Rich Stanek, who, in a court deposition, admitted using the n-word and subsequently resigned his state commissionership? At a GOP press conference, the current Hennepin County Sheriff hurled “a question of integrity” at Barack Obama regarding William Ayers, the Strib’s Kevin Duchschere writes. Stanek regained public office after expressing contrition and doing good works; Obama — who did nothing as obnoxious as Stanek — has repudiated Ayers’ youthful actions and done good works. Find someone without high-profile sin to cast those insinuating stones, GOP.
In Minnesota, Obama leads John McCain 51 percent to 40 percent in a new Quinnipiac University poll, AP’s Brian Bakst notes. (Video of Michelle Obama’s Twin Cities stop yesterday here.) Idle thought: With Obama riding high locally, will he stick his neck out more aggressively for Al Franken? Norm Coleman debuts his 24-city “Hope” bus tour today, Fox9 reports.
Speaking of: In the same Q-Pac poll, Franken has nudged ahead of Coleman 38 percent to 36 percent. The 1,009-person poll has a sampling error margin of plus/minus 3.1 percentage points. Dean Barkley drew 18 percent, roughly equally from each major party. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger looks at Senate ads and how the tone might (but probably won’t) change after Coleman’s “hopeful” turn.
Last thing here: Coleman 2.0 (or is it 10.0?) is running as a bipartisan bridge builder — so why is he making a bid to head the highly partisan National Republican Senatorial Committee? On MPR’s “Midday,” Coleman says colleagues approached him and while willing to serve, he’s “not running,” Stassen-Berger writes. Hmm — Coleman waged a pretty pitched (and ultimately losing) battle with Elizabeth Dole during the 2006 cycle.
You don’t register by political party in Minnesota, but the Strib’s Mark Brunswick and Glenn Howatt say solidly Democratic areas have nearly twice as many new registrations as Republican ones. Of the 100,000 new registrants; 45,000 are in areas John Kerry won by 10 percent or more, versus 25K in similar Bushian territories. Bigger cities across the state sport the registration gap, which could help Democratic congressional and legislative candidates.
Related: The enterprising Brunswick and Howatt note there have been no Minnesota complaints about ACORN, the tacitly pro-Obama group raided in other states over registration-driver incidents. The information comes from “state and party leaders” — does that include the Republican Party? They’re the ones agitating most at the national level. ACORN has registered 41,000 Minnesota voters in the last two years.
The Tom Petters (alleged) ripoff list lengthens as Petters Co. and Petters Group files Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Strib’s Liz Fedor lists unsecured creditors, including Redstone Grill’s Dean Vlahos. Vlahos tells the Business Journal’s John Vomhof that he “made a lot of money” on his $18.8 million investment, but that principal is now gone. Vlahos’ wife has to love this — she’s divorcing the Champps founder, but will get stuck with half the loss.
More Petters: The PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger and John Welbes quote Vlahos pegging the actual loss at $15 million; Vlahos notes Petters still owns a million Redstone shares, which have been “frozen by the courts,” but that won’t affect Redstone’s operation.
If you start smoking, your doctor might get a bonus down the road. OK, that’s not exactly how Maura Lerner framed her Strib piece about Blue Cross giving doctors and clinics up to 100 bucks for referring patients to stop-smoking hot lines. Only one in four referrals ever called the lines, and no one knows how many of those quit. But in general, hot lines can quadruple the general 5 percent success rate.
That weird Eden Prairie townhouse break-in gets weirder. Police now say it wasn’t a random act, the Strib’s Laurie Blake reports. On Monday, Fox9’s Beth McDonough reported the burglars tied up two women and allegedly did things to one “we’d rather not repeat on TV.” Today, a police sergeant tells Blake neither victim was seriously injured or required medical attention. Fox9’s Scott Wasserman now says “the extent of that assault is still being looked into.”
A prostitute who got 10 years for setting up Howard Porter stated that he died trying to save her — even though she set him up. Tonya Johnson’s two buddies got life and 45 years, respectively, in the death of the ex-basketball star and Ramsey County probation officer, writes the Strib’s Rochelle Olson. In the story’s final paragraphs, Porter’s widow offers some heartbreaking statements about compassion.
Minneapolitans get to fight in public tonight over a southwest metro light-rail line, the Strib’s Jim Foti writes. Some cake-eaters oppose a faster route between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles; inner-city merchants worry about an alternative tunnel down Nicollet Avenue’s Eat Street. (Stops only at either end of the 10-block-long zone? Really?) It’s a chance for train-haters to laugh at transit-lovin’ city folk going NIMBY. Some in Uptown love the deal. A 2015 opening is forecast.
Having covered the birth of St. Paul’s World Trade Center, I’ve always cast a skeptical eye at the downtown St. Paul office market. Now, the Strib’s Susan Feyder reports that the supply is shrinking — a market triumph if ever there was one. The 1 percent loss is mostly attributable to housing conversions. St. Paul has a puny 1.6 million square feet of Class A space, compared with 13.2 million squares in Minneapolis, and the Capital City’s supply isn’t going up anytime soon.
Also in my checkered a career, I covered a happy event: when Hennepin County stopped placing homeless people in the seedy Drake Hotel. Now, sadly, homeless families are moving back in to find the place extra-crappy, the Strib’s Patrice Relerford observes. Families get rooms with a single twin bed, plus “a dingy shower curtain that looked as old as the 80-year-old hotel itself.” More homeless families have sought help this year than in all of 2006.
The local AAA says even though gas prices are down at least a buck, Minnesotans aren’t driving more, WCCO’s Liz Collin reports. Before, we had money but high prices dissuaded us. Now, we have less money.
Theater de la Jeune Lune has a deal to sell its marvelous downtown Minneapolis space, the Strib’s Graydon Royce writes. The buyer is Rea/Hall LLC, whose offer “came out of the blue.” No intentions are revealed. The building, appraised over a year ago at $3 million, fetched enough to at least pay off the theater’s $1.2 million debt. The sale closes in December. Will there be anything left over for a founding artists’ retirement plan?