So which Minnesota U.S. House member will flip and vote for the bailout bill? MPR’s Tom Scheck says including the “mental health parity” bill in Bailout 2.0 is aimed at switching Jim Ramstad’s “no” vote on Bailout 1.0. The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury reports that Ramstad was listed as one of a dozen possible switchers on the Politico site. And this morning, the New York Times has the Rammer extolling the virtues of the changes. (Hat tip: Minnesota Independent’s Steve Perry.)
Tim Walz is the other possibility: The first-term Democrat says he hasn’t been lobbied by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi, the Strib’s Chao Xiong and Pat Doyle report. Sounds like constituent opposition is softening; 30 percent are pro-bailout and an unstated number of others say OK, with changes. Walz wants a five-year sunset on the bailout. No comments from Collin Peterson, but the Blue Dog Dem isn’t likely to switch now that more unpaid-for tax breaks have swelled the price tag from $700 billion to $810 billion.
The bailout was the centerpiece of a 6th District congressional debate; Michele Bachmann remains a “no” and El Tinklenberg says yes to 2.0. The PiPress’ Dennis Lien says Bachmann blames excessive regulation for the mess; Tinklenberg cites growing problems on Main Street. Tinklenberg got big applause for saying there needs to be accountability for the last eight years. The Strib’s Pat Doyle amplifies Bachmann’s call for looser accounting rules, which she says would free up credit. Fox9 video here.
Bipartisan on the bailout: Sens. Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar voted “aye.” The PiPress reprints statements: Coleman uses the McCainian “I’d rather lose an election than see this economy crumble” while Klobuchar cites accessories: renewable energy investments, middle-class tax cuts and the parity bill. MPR’s Jessica Mador has the narrative. AP’s Frederic Frommer says Al Franken won’t take a position — sounds like he doesn’t think it will work — while Dean Barkley would vote “aye,” reluctantly.
In the hot 3rd Congressional District race, Democrat Ashwin Madia said he would probably support the bailout, MPR’s Curtis Gilbert reports. Opponent Erik Paulsen said last week he opposed Bailout 1.0, but no word yet on 2.0. Independence Party candidate David Dillon says Congress should approve the bailout but not use it until credit markets truly seize up.
Bailout-backing car dealers cite a “dramatic loss in customer traffic,” according to the Strib’s Dee DePass. Twenty percent sales drops are reported; one mega-dealer reports financing approvals have dropped from 90 percent to 60 percent. Those with marginal credit used to have a 50-50 shot at financing; now it’s 10 percent. One dealer association exec says it isn’t underlying credit problems, but fear stoked by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Perspective: The Minnesota market has shrunk 25 percent in five years.
Southwest Airlines is coming! The monopoly-busting airline will have eight to 10 flights to Chicago’s Midway beginning in March, the Strib’s Liz Fedor writes. No fares or schedule yet, but the PiPress’ John Welbes notes Midway flights cost $100 when AirTran was here. The Business Journal’s Katherine Grayson says Southwest will take up to three gates. Southwest’s boss says Sun Country’s troubles and the Delta-NWA merger weren’t factors, but high prices were.
KARE’s Scott Goldberg notes Barack Obama has broken to an 11-point lead in Minnesota according to a Time-CNN poll. The margin of sampling error is 3.5 percent either way.
Soon-to-be “Conspiracy TV” host Jesse Ventura is in two Dean Barkley U.S. Senate ads. MPR’s Scheck has ’em here.
Hibernian Nick Coleman has great sport with an errant pre-RNC police raid on a vegan, dancing Irish nationalist. Coleman benefited from years of watching Mike Whalen lay verbal and physical blarney on local Emerald Islers, and demolishes at least one pillar of rival columnist Katherine Kersten’s guilt-by-association strategy.
Related: The PiPress’ Emily Gurnon reveals why the Whalen search warrant went missing for days — prosecutors claim a “comedy of errors” ending in a mis-routing. Whalen’s lawyer says it’s likely an innocent mistake.
Also related: More details on St. Paul’s RNC police planning investigation. The Strib’s Chris Havens says it’ll be done by Dec. 15 — yikes! — cost 100G and feature at least one public hearing. The PiPress’ Dave Orrick notes an extension beyond Dec. 15 is possible. The City Council approved the deal 6-0. The co-leaders, Tom Heffelfinger and Andy Luger, weren’t thrilled with having to add two St. Paulites to what’s now a five-member group, but they’ll get to pick ’em.
Let the Petters lawsuits begin! The PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger says a local hedge fund says it was swindled out of $60 million in a deal “involving imaginary televisions as collateral.” Did the hedge fund help turn Petters in? Garrison-Sprenger notes their last contact was the day of the FBI raid, when Petters told the hedge fund’s investigator that contacting the TV retailers wouldn’t provide “the satisfaction that you need to get.”
More Petters: The Strib’s David Phelps says other global firms are queuing up to sue and profiles a pre-raid suit. Related: Colorado cities are getting cold feet about Petters-sponsored real estate projects there, Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard notes.
So it isn’t just O.J. who’s exonerated on first-degree murder charges but still has to pay survivors? The Strib’s Rochelle Olson has the fascinating tale of a man acquitted of helping kill his business partner, only to be rung up for civil damages 19 years later. The jury awarded $300,000 to the victim’s family, but the judge reversed himself and blocked punitive damages. It’s a worthwhile crime read.
Minneapolis’ top election official says it’s OK to use Instant Runoff Voting in 2009 city elections, the Strib’s Steve Brandt notes. There’s no primary, and voters rank the possibilities; the trouble was finding proper voting equipment. The recommendation: Minneapolis should use existing equipment and hand-sort if no one wins a majority. It may delay results, and a constitutional challenge will be heard Wednesday. (Disclaimer: I worked for the IRV initiative in 2006.)
Fox9 reports that the University of Minnesota is surveying students about a possible campus-wide smoking ban. UMD and MSU-Moorhead already have one.
WCCO’s Frank Vascellaro gets to be a boy with toys as he details MnDOT’s new “tow plow” that removes snow from two and a quarter lanes. It’s pulled behind a dump truck and costs 60 grand versus a regular plow’s $250,000.
The Strib’s Jenna Ross, who’s been working the recycling beat hard, profiles a new rewards program: The more recycling you put out, the more coupons you get. Maple Grove gets this first, early next year. For now, recycling is calculated by neighborhood, with everyone rewarded equally — peer pressure! The company hopes to distribute the merchandise/restaurant coupons on an individual level. It’s a no-sort program that increases quantity, with a lower percentage of what’s picked up is fully recyclable.
Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard says the office market is slow, but downtown Minneapolis is a relative exception. It was one of the few local areas where more space was taken in the third quarter. Why? Unclear, but score another point for the urban core.