Prosperity gospel preacher Mac Hammond won one versus the IRS; a magistrate rules recomments that his Living Word mega-church doesn’t have to cough up compensation information, the Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith writes. Unmet: A rule requiring a “high-ranking” IRS official to make the demand. Will that change in an Obama administration? The concept is tax-advantaged institutions can’t overpay. A federal judge must sign off on the magistrate’s recommendation.
The Rammer is in the running for drug czar, the Strib’s Kevin Diaz notes. The soon-to-be-ex-congressman “might” be interested in the Obama administration position; doing the D.C. dance, Ramstad is publicly coy but flattered. It would be nice to have an anti-drug leader with a passion for treatment. While praising Ramstad for that, City Pages’ Matt Snyders calls him a “mindless hard-ass” on criminalization, noting he also opposes medical marijuana legalization.
The recount begins today, after the state Canvass Board said, “Go!” The Strib’s Pat Lopez and Mike Kaszuba note the board did not certify Norm Coleman’s 215-vote margin; next week, it will consider a Franken request to include potentially valid but rejected absentee votes. The Coleman forces stupidly claimed their guy won again; the Franken forces stupidly castigated local elections officials over the absentee question.
MPR’s Tom Scheck has a tidy look at the legal argments here. A Ramsey County judge will decide whether to give out absentee info today, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger and Dave Orrick note. Scheck and Mark Zdechlik have a nice ground-level look at county-level recounting and voter-intent assessment here. The Uptake will have video and a liveblog. There’s Minneapolis and St. Paul recount-watching info here and some tips here.
Really good point: MPR’s Curtis Gilbert and Molly Bloom say some absentee voters are worried their ballots weren’t counted; officials recommend calling local elections offices (which aren’t busy right now, right?).
Related: A Strib editorial mocks a group that seeks to upend election-day registration. The Minnesota Majority members suspect, but haven’t shown, widespread registration errors or fraud, making their proposal “wildly out of proportion to the problem they purport to solve — so much so that those who promote them stand fairly accused of trying to suppress turnout.”
Also related: The Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Nekessa Opoti has a good insider look at the continuing controversy over alleged Election Day shenanigans involving local Somalis. Despite a lot of huffing from Somali Justice Advocacy Center leader Omar Jamal about undue Franken influence, no complaint has been filed with Hennepin County. Opoti, a Kenyan, unpacks the Somali and U.S. political ties that could underlie the accusations.
City Pages’ Conrad Wilson says the U.S. government toughened up its policies on immigrant family reunions, hurting local Somalis. The govenment’s reasons were legit — strangers were claiming each other for $10,000 — but a DNA-test requirement has made it tough for folks living in the impoverished African nation.
The Strib’s David Chanen chronicles Minneapolis’ response to seven Somali murders since December. (A week ago, City Pages pegged the body count at five.) Mayor R.T. Rybak had a flurry of Tuesday meetings about a cultural-specific application of a youth-violence prevention initiative. “Why violence has escalated this year is unclear,” Chanen writes, though gang retaliation is a factor, as well as cultural cluelessness on the part of school and police officials.
A pistol-whipper is robbing compliant victims in downtown Minneapolis. The Strib’s Abby Simons says there have been four late-night incidents in a week, most in parking ramps. Cops are prowling downtown homeless shelters. Incident video here.
WCCO’s Esme Murphy scores a sweeps-month get: a sit-down with Tom Petters’ girlfriend. She denies federal allegations that Petters owes $10 million to Vegas casinos and that he talked of fleeing. She also says he feels bad about the drive-by victimization of charity Teen Challenge, and works the violin over his separation from his family. WCCO is stretching this out over two nights.
St. Paul could deregulate cab fares, the Strib’s Chris Havens writes. Companies could adjust rates twice a year; hikes would be capped at $1 for the minimum fare and 10 percent on the mileage rate. Both would be approved by the city. (Thus, it’s not full deregulation.) Minneapolis won’t join the move, but Bloomington already has such a policy; the airport allows companies to pick the highest St. Paul or Minneapolis price.
Fourth Amendment follies: Did police have the right to break a parked trailer’s lock during the RNC? A magistrate said no; cops needed a warrant, the PiPress’ David Hanners reports. The U.S. Supreme Court has given police expanded warrantless search powers for moving cars, but the trailer didn’t qualify, even though it was moved frequently. It contained homemade riot shields. Evidence of Molotov cocktails, obtained elsewhere, will not be suppressed. Here, too, a judge must concur.
Minneapolis is nearly foreclosed out, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports; year-over-year numbers have fallen three months in a row. City leaders are about to deploy $5.6 million in federal aid, the biggest chunk to demolish hopelessly blighted properties. Other facets will landbank lots and homes, and help developers do fixups; $500,000 will subsidize a few low-income buyers through contracts for deed. The PiPress Jason Hoppin profiles a historic St. Paul manor in foreclosure.
The Minneapolis public schools have a new PR expert, the Strib’s Patrice Relerford writes. It’s the first-ever “cabinet” communications position, something district officials say they need as competition from charters and choice heats up. Ironically, MPR’s Tom Weber notes the district is selling three buildings to charter competitors for about $11 million.
A bad blow for wind energy? MPR’s Dan Gunderson says the credit crunch and falling energy prices have stopped work on some East Coast wind farms. Xcel Energy is “significantly slowing” wind investment. However, many local developers say their projects are moving forward just fine.
Related: The Strib’s Jackie Crosby says Best Buy is pushing “Green Your Phone” cards; the $10 renewable energy credits that help fund a rural Minnesota wind farm. It’s like buying those food-shelf credits in the supermarket checkout line. Electronics make up 30 percent of home energy use; it’s expected to rise to 40 percent by decade’s end.
Food prices went up when commodity and energy prices soared but aren’t coming down now, the PiPress’ Tom Webb notes. Ethanol spokesfolk say it was all a scam to bash their industry and raise prices regardless, but foodstuff competitors are still banging on ethanol’s subsidies.
Nort spews: The first-place Wild get a big road win, beating the Pens 2-1 in a shootout; Sore Loser here. Justin Morneau lost an A.L. MVP award he shouldn’t have won (you can’t be most valuable if you go into the tank at season’s end); the award should’ve been Joe Mauer’s, not Dustin Pedroia’s. By the way, NCAA Basketball Final Four site for 2012 to 2016 are being announced today, and Minneapolis is in the mix.