Nice overview of recount gamesmanship from the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger and Jason Hoppin. With Coleman in the lead, the GOP has nothing to lose by screaming bloody murder, though the risk of sliming the state’s clean reputation forces the senator’s lawyer to acknowledge what the writers call “a fine, transparent recount system.” A 28-precinct audit gave Franken six votes; if that holds statewide, the guy trailing by 206 would gain 884. And yes, a coin flip could break a tie.
On cue, the Strib’s Katherine Kersten questions/accuses “partisan” DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. She notes national Democratic/lefty groups helped him win in 2006 without noting why (Republican SoSs Katherine Harris, Ohio’s Bush 2004 co-chair Ken Blackwell, Minnesota’s own terrorism-at-the-polls Mary Kiffmeyer). When it comes to actions, not associations, Kersten concedes Ritchie “has shown no evidence of misconduct.” The worst she can find? An (unreprinted) Ritchie comment criticizing pre-recount gamesmanship as “unfortunate.”
The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere writes that since 1998, DFLers gained in 15 of the last 18 major statewide races post-Election Night. (This happened under Kiffmeyer, too, and to a greater degree than 2008 so far.) MPR’s Tim Nelson offers another interesting datapoint: The next-closest non-judicial statewide margin this decade was 14,000 votes. Today, Ritchie announces the four judges who will accompany him on the state canvass board. Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson, a Pawlenty appointee, picks two.
MPR’s Tom Scheck says recount lawyering could cost Coleman a million bucks. (Franken folks aren’t naming a figure.) New federal rules limit donations to recount efforts. WCCO’s Pat Kessler says Coleman forces will have a lawyer at every recount site, in addition to observers. WCCO’s Jason DeRusha asks, “Why do we count bad ballots?” He says state law requires recognizing voter intent, not oval-filling skills. KARE’s John Croman re-examines alleged fraud at Minneapolis’ Coyle Center and finds pro-Coleman claims lacking.
Election time so soon? Minneapolis DFL State Rep. Paul Thissen throws his hat in the 2010 guv’s ring, the PiPress’ Dennis Lien reports. The Harvard-trained lawyer is the third serious candidate, after State Rep. Tom Bakk and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner. (The PiPress profiles Gaertner’s possible successor here.) Meanwhile, the Strib’s Steve Brandt notes that Minneapolis has its first 2009 mayoral candidate: Neighborhood Revitalization Program honcho Bob Miller, who has to move back from Edina.
KARE’s Rick Kupchella investigates the University Children’s Hospital, which has done zero pediatric heart transplants in two years despite being the only local facility that can. Transplant centers like the U rank kids for the surgery, but the hospital consistently downgrades patients out of eligibility. Kupchella says the U misrepresents a hospitalization requirement as mandatory. Kids have been transferred elsewhere to get transplants. The U blames an organ shortage but in ’05 was doing many procedures.
A white Augsburg College freshman from Alaska says four big black women beat her for wearing a McCain/Palin button on Election Night, the Strib’s Paul Walsh reports. No arrests, and it’s unclear if dorm video shows the incident, but the school thinks the alleged assailants weren’t students. The woman plays college hockey, and a team trainer confirms the injury. However, Walsh notes the famous “backwards-B” hoax in the election’s waning days may make some question the local incident.
Meanwhile, a U student made up a threat about three Somali students bombing the school so she could get out of class, the PiPress’ Doug Belden reports.
A tale of two newspapers: “One-third of metro homes sold at loss” (PiPress); “Bits of good news surface for Twin Cities housing market” (Strib). The PiPress’s Chris Snowbeck relies on a Zillow.com study showing how many homes sell for less than the purchaser paid. The Strib’s Jim Buchta agrees prices are dropping, but he finds hope rays emanating from a drop in inventory. Prices in north Minneapolis fell by 70 percent in two years, compared with 1.2 percent in Edina.
City Pages’ Erin Carlyle takes a long look at the “dark web” of Somali men murdered in Minneapolis. Five have been killed in 12 months. (The city’s year-to-date-total for everyone is 32, by the way.) Carlyle quotes community members blaming No Child Left Behind; the act resulted in Somali teacher layoffs, she writes, breaking the school bond to kids, resulting in a gang upswing. The irony is refugees who left a civil war are fighting one here.
Terror on the highways! MPR’s Bob Kelleher says the economic slump will decrease road safety. That’s because people are deferring auto maintenance and bringing their beaters out of mothballs. No stats, but the best auto-mechanic storytelling this side of Click and Clack.
Then again, SUV sales are back! WCCO’s Liz Collin reports that the Walser Automotive Group went from selling a few dozen SUVs in recent months to 200 last month. Dramatically lower gas prices get the credit, but experts say buyers are being extremely short-sighted.
Good reads: The Strib’s Steve Brandt on serving as a Minneapolis election judge, including his scandalous ballot-ruining. The PiPress’ Chris Niskanen on a muzzle-loading gal who shot a 27-point buck. (The Strib’s Doug Smith writes of hunting rule-breakers.) In the “good view” department, Fox9’s Jeff Baillon looks at “sleep forensics” — Minnesota researchers who check out crimes tied to sleepwalking and other snoozing disorders.
Nort spews: The Wolves still stink, falling to 1-6 after a 113-110 overtime loss to the injury-depleted Golden State Warriors. The Rake’s Britt Robson rails here.