Next time you see a local TV station advertise themselves as the place for politics, know that none of them broadcast the first debate of a crucial and competitive U.S. Senate race last night. Not even KTCA! I know there will be four more debates, but at this precipice moment — politically and financially — they should all be embarrassed they couldn’t pony up for democracy.
But as usual, the Internet to the rescue! The Uptake has complete video coverage of the debate — broken into topics, god bless ’em. MPR’s Bob Collins produced a highly readable — and even annotated! — liveblog. (Why didn’t other major-media outlets do this?) Readers can get the debate’s back-and-forth in a sliver of the time it took to watch it.
We’re always down with debate fact-checking, and the PiPress has a good scorecard. Senator-for-a-second Dean Barkley is dinged for phonying up an anecdote about a politically segregated Capitol dining room. Al Franken overstated sole GOP culpability for the financial crisis and attacked Norm Coleman with the same “voted against our troops” trope that Joe Biden discredited last week. Coleman misrepresented Franken as being against all oil drilling and Medicare Part D; Al opposed a provision prohibiting price negotiation.
The meltdown factor: Coleman said the bailout bill wasn’t perfect, but was the product of compromise and add-ons for mental-health insurance parity and wind power made it worth supporting, the Strib’s Pat Lopez writes. Franken again said the bill had too much pork and too little re-regulation, and that he would’ve chanced a meltdown for something better. Barkley — proving pork is easy to criticize but hard to vote against — would’ve supported the ballooningly costly bill. But he nailed Franken for dilly-dallying in his opposition.
More debate: AP’s Brian Bakst notes Barkley nailed Coleman for two “trillion-dollar mistakes”: backing the Iraq War and not regulating the financial industry. Franken ‘fessed up to his own early support but says he at least recognizes it as a bad idea, unlike Coleman. Norm defended his attacks on Franken’s disposition by noting Al doesn’t have a voting record. Barkley notes he’s the beneficiary of the sniping.
A new Minnesota Poll — you know, the one with all the Democrats — finds a habitat/arts sales tax constitutional amendment enjoys 59 percent support. However, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba notes 40 percent of voters have heard nothing about the details. This might be good for supporters, and opponents don’t have much of a budget to get the word out.
You could’ve predicted this one in the spring: a story on how the state’s 3.9 percent local levy limits aren’t all that. The Strib’s Jenna Ross finds Medina’s hike is 12.4 percent, Minneapolis’ 6.9 percent and Woodbury 6.8 percent. Lots of fudge factors, in other words. The limit’s exceptions perversely push cities toward borrowing, rather than general-fund taxing. Exactly what we need right now, right? Even the Taxpayers League head says the limit may be too restrictive.
According to the Strib’s Susan Feyder, commercial-property foreclosures are rising, though no comprehensive data are available. (Just like in the early days of residential foreclosures!) The most solid number: Hennepin County’s 25 commercial-industrial foreclosures for the first half of this year; there were 37 in all of 2007. Apartment complexes are on the same pace.
In these foreclosure-depressed times, it’s nice to read about how things can work out. The Strib’s Steve Brandt tells the tale of Fannie Riley, a foreclosed-upon Minneapolitan who fought back from being nearly $10,000 in arrears to keeping her house. Wells Fargo showed flexibility, Riley worked her ass off to get a job and public officials made key connections. Why the heck can’t this happen more often?
A free market for food shelves? The PiPress’ Bob Shaw has a fascinating piece on an Oakdale woman who wanted to start a food shelf — only to find Washington County carved up into five exclusive territories. Local churches told the woman to desist! The new food shelf would have an open-door policy; the existing cartel sends people to their locality’s food shelf if they show up at the “wrong” one. Demand is rising, so why not more outlets? Existing providers say it’s the supply that’s limited, and would thus be diluted.
AP’s Amy Forliti looks at a relatively new Minnesota anti-terrorism law that has some RNC protesters facing seven-plus years in prison. The 2002 law says “a crime furthers terrorism if it’s intended to interfere with the conduct of government or the right of lawful assembly.” The ACLU and defense attorneys say it’s overbroad, but prosecutors say it’s on the books and some were creating a climate of fear. (Forliti was arrested in the RNC policing sweep but, like most journalists, had charges dropped.)
The Mille Lacs Ojibwe are banishing some tribal members for five years — a revival of an old technique meant to combat modern-day crime, the Strib’s Curt Brown writes. In the old days, banishment was a “death sentence” — now, you still get your $7,000 in tribal gambling proceeds. Federal law limits how long bands can imprison someone, so expulsion becomes a more plausible route. Six of 11 Minnesota bands have banishment on the books.
A couple of interesting schools datapoints: Enrollment in Southwest Minneapolis high schools is climbing, the Southwest Journal’s Dylan Thomas reports. That’s counterintuitive, given the district’s recent enrollment declines. Maybe one reason is horrible bus times for charter schools? Public districts provide charter transportation, but the Twin Cities Daily Planet’s James Sanna notes Minneapolis charters had to take a horrible start time: 10:15 a.m. Many declined, meaning parents were on their own.
Gleaning up: On Friday, I noted with a bit of bailout-infused cynicism that Life Time Fitness was selling off property and then leasing it back; portent of a company cash crunch? In fairness, Life Time spokesperson Jason Thunstrom emailed to say this has long been a part of the company’s financing strategy and indicates nothing dire.
I know Barack Obama appeals to young voters, but this is ridiculous: Fox9 reports the Democrat beat John McCain 1,000 to 800 in a gumball vote at the Mall of America. Helpfully, the site adds that the vote was unscientific.
Nort spews: With heat last year and torrential rain this year, the Twin Cities Marathon might have to be redubbed “The Most Miserable Urban Marathon in America.” Still, American Fernando Cabada took the men’s crown in 2:16.31 and Russian Olga Glok won the women’s division in 2:32.27. The Vikes (1-3) can catch up to the Packers (2-3) if they defeat the Saints in New Orleans tonight. With no E.J. Henderson, that might be tough. Unfortunately and a bit weirdly, both teams are behind the Bears (3-2).