Norm Coleman and DonorGate principals have assembled a defense-bar all-star team. The Strib’s Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy break it down thusly: Coleman hired Doug (PettersGate) Kelley; Laurie Coleman secured Earl Gray; insurance tycoon Jim Hays selected Doug Peterson; donor Nasser Kazeminy picked Joe Friedberg. If that doesn’t indicate a dead-serious investigation into Kazeminy’s alleged attempt to pass money through Hays to the Colemans, nothing does.
The state Canvassing Board begins assessing ballots today at noon; slow withdrawals from the Coleman camp prompted a three-hour delay, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger writes. Franken got his pile down to 436; Norm’s folks plan to submit fewer than 1,000. One expert tells MPR’s Tom Scheck that the board may not be able to keep up its 5-0 votes; AP says a majority vote works fine.
A big, ongoing story: local country clubbers who lost money to epic fraudster Bernard Madoff. The Strib’s Chris Serres and Neal St. Anthony find one: Harold Roitenberg, who “lost most of my assets, but not all of them.” Nine others refused to go on the record; some lost as much as $100 million. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota, must replace $100,000 from blown-up donors.
Different country club, different cause: 63-year-old pissed-off member fires six bullets into the Minikahda Club at 1:30 in the morning, the Strib’s Lora Pabst notes. Joseph Rice was driving a half-million-dollar ’72 Ferrari, WCCO’s Liz Collin adds. Fox9 says it’s the third time in a week Rice ran afoul of the law; he tried to stiff a cabbie while drunk outside a strip club and was arrested at the country club earlier for making terroristic threats against a cop. Charming.
Delta can cut 1,500 local jobs and still get a reworked Metropolitan Airports Commission loan, the PiPress’ John Welbes writes; the Strib’s Liz Fedor prefers to lead with 10,000 jobs staying. In the deal-that’s-never-really-a-deal, Delta pledges 400 flights from the Twin Cities, 30 fewer than currently, and will locate certain functions here for a whopping three years. The MAC evidenced some rare pushback on that last facet. Whatever’s signed, expect renegotiations to commence immediately.
More Delta: Fedor notes the MAC will spend $10 million to upgrade Delta’s maintenance facility while the airline will pay $500,000 of the $1.9 million in annual rent Northwest was forgiven. By the way, Delta debuts in-flight WiFi — though not on Northwest flights until next year.
Best Buy will offer buyouts to 4,000 employees but doesn’t say how many it wants, the Strib’s Jackie Crosby writes. Workers will get an average of seven months’ pay plus a year of bennies. Just like everywhere else, sales are down at the gold-tag behemoth, though it will likely gain market share because of rivals’ foibles.
One place where Minneapolis city government kicks the state’s butt: keeping a budget reserve. The city has $53 million in the kitty, the Strib’s Laurie Blake notes; the state has $155 million at the moment. That will help Minneapolis absorb what will be the biggest hit in local government aid: $3.7 million to $20 million. You become a ripe target when you actually plan for tough times. Duluth has the most to lose; amazingly, it gets 70 percent of its budget from the state.
The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury notes Gov. Pawlenty will begin unalloting budgeted spending in the next 10 days. And yes, local government aid is targeted. By the way, Robbinsdale is closing schools, St. Paul has frozen school hiring, Hennepin County cut 240 positions, Worthington braces for cuts to 45 percent of its budget; ditto Luverne at 43 percent and Pipestone at 23 percent, Red Wing schools project a 25 percent tax hike, and Fergus Falls shifts funds from next year to this.
Can you and your spouse get by on $528 a month for groceries? The PiPress’ David Hanners writes that one of Tom Petters’ alleged accomplices will have to, after a judge approved ongoing expenses. Co-defendent Larry Reynolds and wife — “who also own a home in Las Vegas, as well as a Bentley and a Ferrari — will have to subsist on ‘macaroni and cheese, grape soda and an apple,'” their lawyer says.
Minnesotans drove less even as gas prices fell. The Strib’s Bill McAuliffe says October miles driven were down 3.5 percent from a year earlier, but up from September, when prices were higher. November, a full month of cheap gas, may tell the permanency tale. One factor that may keep driving down: fewer jobs.
More charges for the RNC 8: They now face “conspiracy to riot in the second degree, conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, and first-degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property,” the PiPress’ Emily Gurnon notes. They originally faced second-degree conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism charges. Supporters disrupted St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s fundraiser at Mancini’s Char House.
Shoot a reporter in the arm, get three months in jail, from AP via WCCO.
The Strib’s Matt McKinney looks at Cargill’s rollout of Truvia, the who-knows-if-it’s-safe sweetener. But it’s natural!
Nort spews: The terrible Timberwolves lost their 10th in a row to a team that just fired its coach; Britt Robson breaks down the Sacramento carnage here.