Daily Glean: Recount redo: The coming U.S. Senate vacancy?

With Norm Coleman up by 167 votes, MPR’s Tim Nelson looks past the current “administrative” recount to the inevitable “judicial” one: Says Nelson, “By law, the state’s courts would decide who got the most votes, then hand the entire case over to the U.S. Senate.” A three-judge panel would examine all claims, including absentee ballots and fraud. If the seat is vacant in January — almost certain with a court challenge — Gov. Pawlenty can name a temporary replacement.

Biggest losers: Last week brought an important but underplayed story about foundation investments falling in the market meltdown; today, it’s local colleges. MPR Tim Post charts the carnage: from Sept. ’07 to ’08, Macalester’s endowment dropped 21 percent, Carleton’s 16 percent, the U’s 12 percent and St. Thomas’ 11 percent. This was before October’s bigger collapse. Some of the drop comes from spending, and college financial pros argue they’re remaining patient long-term investors. Nothing on potential spending impacts.

Fox9’s Tom Lyden says five local Somali families recently went to the FBI, worried their sons “were part of some jihad in Somalia.” More than 20 men have left in two waves in recent months. One local Somali leader says the trips are organized. According to Lyden, some returnees are ex-gang members getting away from local battles, while “others are in college, and some were said to be deeply religious.”

Nice bit of news planning by the PiPress: With the five-year permit-to-carry licenses coming up for renewal, only about half of metro gun-toters re-up. The paperwork and $75 permit price are too steep, reporter Frederick Melo writes. Mitigating factors: New-permit apps are “brisk,” and some current holders may have simply forgotten to reapply. Melo says neither crime-prevention nor crime-enabling predictions have come to pass.

Thin edge of the judicial wedge: Olmstead County courts are having trouble meeting speedy-trial requests, AP reports. This is a coming problem for cash-strapped courts throughout Minnesota, not just in the Rochester area, and it will get worse when the state budget is slashed next year. By law, trials must be held in 60 days, and saying “We don’t have enough judges!” isn’t a constitutional reason. Result: More potential arrestees get out without bail, or with easier release conditions.

Another potential harbinger: two-day hospital strike in Hastings. The Strib’s Chao Xiong says patients will still be taken care of; however, coming federal and state reimbursement rate cuts mean we’ll see more of these. Interestingly, the sponsoring union, SEIU, was a major backer of Barack Obama and Minnesota DFL legislators.

“Lizard People” voter speaks, courtesy of MPR’s Jessica Mador. Twenty-five-year-old Lucas Davenport provides a handwriting sample that checks with his notorious U.S. Senate ballot. No word on whether he was smoking something.

Alert Katherine Kersten: Minnesota State has installed a ritual foot-washing station for its Muslim students. The Mankato Free Press’ Ali Ramsey says a student union renovation made the fixture possible, and the station was paid for by student fees.

The Strib’s Larry Oakes notes that Duluth’s port is remaining heathy, thanks to scads of wind turbine parts coming through. Unasked question: Why aren’t more turbines being built to capture winds at the port?

The Strib’s Mike Meyers localizes a national story: Minnesota’s “healthy” bailed-out banks won’t pay the state “tens of millions of dollars” in foregone taxes, thanks to an obscure bailout provision. (The Washington Post broke the story two weeks ago; banks nationwide will reap a $140 billion windfall that “infuriated” some legislators.) No Minnesota figures are given, but California’s 2008 loss is $300 million. Minnesota’s GOP-appointed revenue commissioner calls the provision “a bad thing.”

The PiPress blows out its front page for a look at home swapping, where you buy the place of the person who buys yours. It’s an extremely boutique option, involving perhaps 50 homes this month. However, builders are using it, taking homes of greater value. Homeowner-to-homeowner swaps are more equal and let people relocate without worrying about selling their current pad.

Fox9’s Jeff Baillon says Minnesota’s pharmacy techs have “few” state-mandated requirements — be at least 16 and pay a $20 fee — and that 200 of 9,000 have criminal convictions, including drug-related offenses. Some hospitals and pharmacies do their own checks, but the bar seems pretty low for the drug-handlers. One customer says her pill count kept coming up short. Background checks may become mandatory.

The trial of two alleged RNC Molotov cocktail-makers has been postponed, AP reports. There’s no new trial date for the suspects held without bail.

A huge and legal graffiti wall in downtown Minneapolis will come down for a new apartment project, the Downtown Journal’s Michelle Bruch reports. The iconic tableau is at 117 N. 2nd St. in North Loop.

I was remembering this Sunday, too: the Strib’s Nick Coleman on the 45th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Nort spews: Hey! We’ve found a talented team even more screwed up than the Vikings! Minnesota defeats Jacksonville 30-12, ending that bizarre Mike-Tice-Is-God boomlet. Sore Losers here and here. Elsewhere in Bizarro World, the Timberwolves crushed the Pistons in Detroit 106-80. Britt Robson’s take here; Sore Losers here and here.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Joel Rosenberg on 11/24/2008 - 10:55 am.

    When I had dinner with John Lott earlier this year, he was guessing a 40% renewal — typical for states that require retraining/requalification, as Minnesota does. And it’s 50% in MN.

    I’m wondering why the PP didn’t try to explain why the renewal rate is unusually high.

  2. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/24/2008 - 02:55 pm.

    I think: (1) The $140-billion giveaway in taxes due states rather than the federal government should be challenged in court, and,

    (2) When the feds talk about predatory lenders, they should not forget the credit card companies who seduce customers with low-interest promises and then raise them hugely for such doubtfully-valid reasons as paying a different bill late.

    Credit card companies seeking handouts should NOT be allowed to consider as “debt” the kazillions in usurious interest they have charged lower-income customers (those who cannot pay off their bills in full each month). All such interest should be forgiven and the rules changed right now to forbid the companies from such practices in the future.

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