Reporters bone up on their recount math as Norm Coleman’s margin drops to 236. The PiPress notes the numbers will continue to fluctuate; counties re-add their results through Monday, and there’s an ongoing, non-recount-related audit of 202 randomly selected precincts. That all ends by Nov. 18, when the official recount starts, with the state canvass board reviewing all disputes. Then it all goes to court. Coleman lost his attorney, Tom Heffelfinger, to a previous RNC-policing-oversight commitment.
In the Strib, Al Franken observes with some satisfaction that Coleman predicted no movement in arguing against a recount, only to see his margin drop by two-thirds in a single day. Coleman took a break Thursday from rhetoric he’d regret. Both sides talked down fraud, though the PiPress says Coleman has volunteers in county clerk’s offices watching ballot boxes. The boxes themselves bear election judges’ seals. Both sides are seeking recount observers.
So does it come down to whose supporters are bigger ballot-marking idiots? The Strib quotes Ramsey County’s Joe Mansky saying older voters typically have problems; exit polls indicate they split between Franken and Coleman. But there are also machine errors that suggest (as we calculated yesterday) a pool of 6,000 uncounted ballots. Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey has an overview on problems with the scanner Minnesota uses. The recount’s silver lining: We’ll see how good the machines really are.
Good story from Forum Communications’ Kelly Smith on what recounting requires at the county level. In Clay County (Moorhead area), it will take 10 to 12 volunteers to count 30,000 ballots. Extrapolated statewide, we’ll need 1,200 volunteers.
Lord, what kind of pixie dust does Vin Weber sprinkle over local political reporters? The ex-congressman-slash-GOP-fixer touts Tim Pawlenty’s national future in a story that dominates the PiPress’ front page. Pawlenty’s rise is a worthy subject, but Bill Salisbury provides no real news here other than — heard this one before? — our guv is young and publicly genial. But there’s no insight on whether Pawlenty can extend his brand nationally. He is, after all, a two-time plurality governor leading a party with its second-smallest legislative margins since the ’70s.
KSTP’s polls wound up giving Republicans higher margins than the voters did. The station doesn’t note the consistent GOP lean, but still, a big thumbs-up for providing the report card for analysis. Channel 5’s Survey USA contractors got the contested congressional races almost exactly right.
Southwest Airlines announced $69 one-way fares to Chicago beginning in March; Northwest/Delta matched. KSTP’s hangar rat Bob McNaney says airlines hide bad ontime performance by incessantly changing flight numbers and slightly altering arrival/departure times. The feds say they may classify this as a deceptive sales practice. The Strib’s James Walsh notes that a Minneapolis man could get up to 20 years for head-butting and spitting on another passenger during a July NWA flight.
St. Paul and Ramsey County authorities stepped up efforts to find GOP convention miscreants, the Strib reports. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried says St. Paul has set up a dozen-member RNC investigative unit, using video, photos and anarchist ‘zines.
Coincidentally, Heffelfinger’s policing-review panel heard testimony about abuses, such as officers covering up badge numbers to make complaint-filing harder. The PiPress’ Tad Vezner writes that citizens expected little, but the “soft-spoken” meeting put more details on the record.
How much would it suck to be the guy accused of started one of the state’s biggest wildfires? That’s the fate of Stephen Pozniak, indicted for the May 2007 Ham Lake fire that torched 76,000 acres in the United States and Canada. The Strib’s Larry Oakes says Pozniak, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of not extinguishing his fire, then lying about camping somewhere else. He faces up to six years in the pokey.
The Strib’s Dan Browning notes that $6 million worth of homes will be sold by alleged Tom Petters co-conspirator Frank Vennes, netting about $1.4 million for a court-appointed receiver. It’s a tale of two abodes: a $5.8 million Florida manse and a $150,000 Bismarck home.
Elsewhere in the world of fraud, the PiPress’ Christopher Snowbeck writes that the state is after a broker “in a massive mortgage fraud scheme they say is the biggest yet to surface here.” Michael Prieskorn’s alleged scam involved 220 homes and netted $20 million in fees.
WCCO’s James Schugel revels in a competitor’s DWI hit-and-run arrest. Fox9’s Beth McDonough “known for tracking people down as part of her job” now, through an attorney, “requests her privacy.” So instead, Schugel interviews the man she hit going 80 miles an hour, who somehow escaped with minor injuries. It would be McDonough’s second DWI; she blew a .24, triple the legal limit. The PiPress’ David Hanners has more details, noting McDonough was already on probation from a 2007 incident.
This spring, Minneapolis will attempt an “ambitious” bike-sharing program featuring 1,000 two-wheelers at 75 kiosks around the city, the Strib’s Jim Foti reports. A $50 annual membership gets you a half-hour of time; mass transit users can get where they’re going after they’re dropped off at stops and stations. Set-up cost: $3 million, probably from government and private sources.
Suburban wind: The Medina City Council approved a 407-foot wind turbine despite the torches and pitchforks of several dozen angry residents, the Strib’s Laurie Blake reports. It’ll go up at a county maintenance base off Hwy. 55, and help offset the county’s $7 million annual electricity bill.
Nort spews: The Wild beat the Avalanche 3-1 behind hot goalie Niklas Backstrom; Sore Loser here.