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Daily Glean: The Petters-Bachmann nexus

In Monday’s local news roundup, the Strib explores the innocents affected by the alleged Petters fraud, while the St. Cloud paper highlights Michele Bachmann’s pardon request for a money launderer tied up in the scandal.

The Strib’s so-far-excellent Tom Petters series looks at the workers screwed by the financer’s alleged fraud. Reporter Curt Brown begins Part 2 with a searing anecdote about a Sun Country flight attendant fainting in her kitchen from the stress of an up-in-the-air paycheck. There’s the pensioner in Texas who lost 100K from her retirement account. An anonymous hedge fund exec insists Petters — portrayed as a supersalesman in Part 1 — duped the savvy and the unsophisticated through fraud, not investors’ greed.

The St. Cloud Times hoists Michele Bachmann on her own petard. Noting her post-“anti-America” assertion that “associations are certainly fair game,” the paper’s Lawrence Schumacher notes Bachmann’s with Frank Vennes, one of the alleged participants in the Petters fraud allegations. Bachmann — also a dupe — supported a pardon for the convicted money launderer and then withdrew her presidential letter after the Petters case broke. The story isn’t new, but the Times is the biggest paper based in the district, so this story is significant.

The St. Cloud Times endorses Dean Barkley, the Independence candidate’s first non-student-daily nod. The bigger news: Norm Coleman is trouncing Al Franken 6-0 in daily-paper endorsements, or 11-0 if you count Forum Communications papers separately (they make a chain-wide endorsement). I’m tracking the Senate endorsement count among state dailies in my new blog here, and following outraged Strib reader comments here. Please email me if you spot a new one.

U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar isn’t happy someone leaked an NTSB conclusion that the 35W bridge collapse was entirely design-flaw-related. AP’s Patrick Congdon says Obie is still skeptical MnDOT’s maintenance decisions didn’t play a part, saying the feds’ conclusion “stretches both credibility and past experience.” The congressman calls Sunday’s Strib scoop “a selective leak,” and notes the National Transportation Safety Board still won’t hold an open hearing on the Nov. 13 report.

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Hey! It’s OK to eat more fish from Minnesota’s tainted lakes and rivers! So says MPR. A research scientist revised fish advisories, explaining, “The old table structure didn’t work well with new chemicals now found in Minnesota waters.” That doesn’t sound reassuring. She did some category math and found we could eat more fish. Enviros are deeply skeptical and worry people will think waters are getting cleaner on the eve of the habitat/arts amendment vote.

Oh man, how soon before we can all do this: vote by mail. Apparently you can do this in 12 percent of the state’s precincts, the Strib’s Bill McAuliffe notes, “all of them rural.” It’s absentee voting without leaving your home, but allowed only for precincts with fewer than 400 registered voters. Counties avoid the expense of election judges and building utilities, but you have to depend on the post office and no one can help you with a poorly marked ballot.

More mail voting: The secretary of state expects the next Legislature to raise the limit to precincts with 1,000 voters. You’re probably still out if you live in the metro area. But there’s always absentee voting, which you can do from your desk if you’re savvy enough. requires a trek to a courthouse or some such.

The Strib’s Paul Walsh says 200 St. Kate’s students signed a petition protesting the school’s decision to block politically oriented speakers in the campaign’s final weeks. (In this, the administration is a bit like Strib Editor Nancy Barnes.) The school blocked conservative Bay Buchanan and liberal Hillary Clinton, among others. The students plan an 11 a.m. demonstration and call the administration’s paradigm “more than unfortunate — it is frankly embarrassing.”

Via the PiPress, the Wisconsin State Journal says Madison police are investigating a “prime suspect” alleged to be one of the dipwads who threw sandbags off a highway bridge during the Republican National Convention. The police acknowledge there’s not enough evidence to charge the man yet.

Interesting read from the Strib’s Jenna Ross: Should cities force sellers to fix homes before they can be sold? With a sluggish market already, Realtors are screaming, “Some people like fixer-uppers!” Traditional rules usually require someone to bring homes up to code, but not necessarily the seller. Cities worry some buyers are getting in over their heads on the money pits. Several cities have long used point-of-sale programs without problems.

Nort spews: The Williams Wall could spring a leak — literally. Vikings defensive linemen Pat and Kevin Williams have apparently tested positive for a banned diuretic, used to increase weight loss through peeing — but which also help mask steroid use. They’re two of a dozen or so players facing a four-game suspension, but an appeal is coming. This would hasten the Brad Childress Farewell Tour. In happier news, congrats to the Top-20 Gopher footballers.