Minnesota will likely have a U.S. Senate vacancy next year, AP’s Brian Bakst reports. That’s because Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says his Canvassing Board could still be sifting through wrongly rejected absentee ballots Jan. 6, when the new Congress convenes. The New York Times’ local reporter, Christina Capecchi, says Gov. Pawlenty could fill the hole. However, FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver contends a vacancy only exists when the Senate says one does; MPR’s Tom Scheck says Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid agrees.
Headline of the day: Minnesota Independent’s “Supes ‘n’ Dupes,” which is also a pretty good roundup of the battering Norm Coleman’s lawyers took from the state Supreme Court. Coleman’s lawyers want allegedly double-counted ballots thrown out of the canvass, but despite all those challenges, have no proof this ever happened. The Supremes sound like they want to wait for the inevitable post-canvass lawsuit to unearth needed evidence.
More Supremes: The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger says Franken’s lawyer argued all precincts would have to be re-recounted, since Coleman only kept track of dupes in Franken-friendly places; Minnesota’s Independent’s Chris Steller notes that a city of Minneapolis attorney said their elections director spoke hastily — again — when she supported the double-counting theory. The state’s DFL attorney general said the issue shouldn’t stop the Canvassing Board from certifying, whenever they get around to it.
Wow. Fox9 says an anonymous donor pledged a million bucks to the Burnsville apartment evacuees. The $17,500 per family will replace torched personal items. The Strib says about 60 families qualify. They can get their checks today, but man, I hope tenant records survived the fire. Despite doubts, this sounds on the level; the PiPress says the complex’s owner already deposited the check. WCCO’s Darcy Pohland says smaller donations are also piling up.
Let’s go to the toteboard: 81 people await trial from Republican National Convention incidents, the PiPress’ Emily Gurnon reports. Another 160 cases handled by the St. Paul city attorney have been dismissed or defendants have paid fines. The number of trials will rise, since 400 more cases, most stemming from the final-night Marion Street Bridge incident, will be presented for charging. Thirty-four journalists had charges dropped.
More RNC: Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko says 20 more serious felony cases are being pursued by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. That includes the so-called “RNC 8” and alleged Molotov-cocktail throwers.
The Tom Petters fraud is so sprawling that the local corporate bankruptcy bar is maxed out; too many conflicts, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger discerns. There are 80 interested parties at this point, and firms can’t represent competing interests. Talk about coals to Newcastle; bankruptcy lawyering is probably the only true recession-proof profession right now. Then again, the case is still lower buck than a major corporate bankruptcy.
Marriage fraud: it’s a crime. The Strib’s Norman Draper says three Chinese citizens were rung up; they were among 40 defendants in the mass scam. They were paid 25 grand to get brides, many of whom were Hmong.
Another study says Minnesota will lose a congressional seat after 2010, MPR’s Tim Nelson writes. That makes control of the Legislature and governorship that much more important, since they can decide which House incumbents face each other. Retirements or promotion may avoid the problem, but the only higher office on the ballot in 2010 is the governor’s.
Consolation prize: Carol Molnau’s MnDOT deputy, Bob McFarlin, got plenty of abuse after the I-35W bridge collapse, but didn’t get the commissioner job after Molnau was ousted. So Gov. Pawlenty appointed him to the Met Council, the PiPress’ Political Animal blog notes. Now he can do to Metro Transit what Molnau did to MnDOT.
Voyaguer’s National Park is readying for concealed weapons in two weeks, the International Falls Daily Journal reports. You must have a Minnesota permit, and the weapon has to be concealed. (This may seem self-evident, but the state’s carry law doesn’t require hiding.) Guns are still prohibited in the visitor’s center, hotel, park headquarters and on tour boats; park rangers are wary. The rule was changed at the behest of a U.S. Senate majority.
If you’re way into unionized Starbucks workers, the locals have started a blog, Infoshop News reports. By the way, the National Labor Relations Board just slapped down Starbucks for union-busting in New York.
A clever — or truly sad — way to combine Christmas and the desperate housing market, from KARE’s Boyd Huppert.
Malls are so crowded they need to melt rather than pile plowed snow? The PiPress’ John Brewer says it’s happening at local shopping centers deluged by 15 inches of snow in the past month.
Nort spews: The Wild beat Carolina 3-2 as Marion Gaborik got his first third goal of the season. Meanwhile, the Gopher men hoopsters slipped by something called Southeastern Louisiana 80-71; in the southwest, the Wolves lost their 13th in a row, 99-93 to San Antonio. Comcast will show more customers the Gophers’ bowl game Dec. 31; the higher-tier NFL Network is the regular carrier.
Point of personal privilege: This is the last Glean of 2008. Thanks to loyal and occasional readers, and to all the local journalists whose great copy has been great fodder.