No, Absentee Al isn’t going to Capitol Hill to assume office, but to “update Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others on the recount process,” the Strib’s Bill McAuliffe writes. Franken won’t attend a new-member orientation because of the unsettled recount but has hired a transition director in case things go his way. (Remember, Coleman has a D.C. presence, but Franken doesn’t.) The Coleman camp calls the trip “highly presumptuous,” but these are the guys who wanted the recount called off.
Franken made an extended appearance on Esme Murphy’s Sunday WCCO show; Norm Coleman declined. Franken said his campaign got “tangled information” when it messed up details last week about an 84-year-old woman’s non-vote, but that info on absentee voters will be made public eventually.
Recount angling: Salon’s Joe Conason, an Al Franken friend, critiques Coleman’s post-election posturing here; Minnesota Democrats Exposed’s Michael Brodkorb helpfully foresees a dystopian future for DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie here. Obama fan Nate Silver, of Fivethirtyeight.com, does a standup thing and takes some responsibility for passing on the car-ballot fiction here. He’s perhaps the smallest offender, but the only explicit “mea culpa” I count so far. On Fox News Sunday, Gov. Pawlenty wasn’t quite as self-critical.
Minneapolis police spearheaded the takedown of a south Minneapolis gang, the Strib’s David Chanen and James Walsh write. Last month, a Rolling ’60s Crips boss was sentenced, the last of 23 targeted gang members. A multi-jurisdictional Violent Offenders Task Force is responsible for an eighth of all federal indictments from the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cops are expected to work 24 hours a day, but the feds and state fork over for the copious overtime, and neighborhood leaders are psyched.
More gangbusting: The story says crime in the Phillips area dropped 6 percent in the wake of the busts. While you can’t make 167 arrests, recover 94 guns and produce 93 charges without good coming of it, nothing indicates how much of the decline was the result of the operation. (For example, did crime citywide fall as much or more? Nearby ‘hoods?) And some drug dealing has returned. Didn’t I see this episode of “The Wire”?
A tale of two Minneapolises: The Southwest Journal’s Steve Pease notes only 32 of the city’s 950 boarded properties are located in the city’s wealthier southwest part. The area has 10 percent of this year’s 2,304 city foreclosures. By the way, all of Uptown’s recent hotel projects are dead, the paper’s Brian Voerding reports. Seems the area isn’t close enough to downtown after all.
Better news about a Minneapolis happy place: The PiPress’ Dennis Lien writes encouragingly of a $6.3 million Minnehaha Falls fix-up. The mile-long project, which begins any moment now, will fix retaining walls, trails and riverbanks and will also control runoff and smooth damaging storm surges. Somehow, it will look more natural, renovators promise. It’ll be done by next fall.
An interesting little detail of last week’s bridge-collapse report: time of day could’ve been a factor. The Strib’s Jim Foti explains that the sun’s rays on the 93-degree day could’ve bent support beams upward, temporarily strengthening the ability to hold the redecking load. By 6:05 p.m., slight cooling may have aided the structure’s demise.
Speaking of warming, the Strib’s Laurie Blake does a little bird-watching, noting upcoming Audubon Society data showing “85 percent of forest birds, 84 percent of feeder birds, 75 percent of land birds, 59 percent of wetland-water birds and 46 percent of grassland birds have been steadily moving north.” In Minnesota, “birds moving north include the tundra swan, the gadwall, the merganser, the bald eagle, the red-headed woodpecker, the cardinal and Cooper’s hawk.”
Gecko tea? The Strib’s James Walsh includes the appetizing cocktail in a piece about Twin Cities food stores selling endangered species. Authorities have seized “antelope horn, seahorses and products made with tiger bone and snake gall” from local Asian markets. Retailers complain the feds aren’t clear about prohibitions. Enforcement stepped up after two women pleaded guilty to wildlife smuggling this summer. An airport inspector tells of seeing “a little hand sticking out of a box” belonging to a dead monkey.
Utilities have begun accepting credit card payments; use surged 30 percent at one co-op this fall, a financial stress indicator, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger writes. The data comes from Connexus Energy, which serves the Twin Cities exurban foreclosure belt. Officials are also seeing more cards declined because they are maxed or stolen. Gulp.
Predators’ Ball, canceled: The Strib’s Inside Track notes the local hedge fund industry’s Winter Ball has been called off; the Minneapolis Club soirée has been downgraded to an (un)happy hour.
One of my favorite sociological phenomena is the “naturally occurring retirement community,” or NORC, where residents age in place until the area becomes a de facto senior community. The Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka writes about a related facet — Edina’s 7500 York, which was designed as a senior co-op but is now a really old senior co-op. As the average age has risen from the 60s to 80s, the average age of interested new residents is also going up.
MPR’s Euan Kerr says the Minnesota Opera has raised more than half the $5.5 million it seeks to popularize contemporary opera. The 2007 hit “Grapes of Wrath” got the ball rolling; the next world premiere is an adaptation of “In the Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” based on a novel and 1970s movie.
Nort spews: The Brad Childress Farewell Tour resumes with a 19-13 loss at Tampa; did the Bucs take Adrian Peterson out of the game in the second half or did Chilly? The Gopher men’s bucketeers beat unheralded Georgia State 60-52, while the unheralded Wolves lost 80-74 to Denver. Meanwhile, the unbeaten Gopher pucksters beat Michigan Tech 3-0 on goalie Alex Kangas’ first shutout.