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Daily Glean: Recount: Unhappy New Year

As MPR’s Tom Scheck says, welcome to the 2009 U.S. Senate race.The Minnesota Supreme Court gave both campaigns veto power over  each wrongly rejected absentee vote. Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko has an extensive review of the opinion; dissenter Alan Page called the ruling contrived, MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki writes. (MinnPost coverage here.) There’s a Dec. 31 deadline to report new vote totals to the Canvassing Board, which then must review new challenges. Can they do it all before the Senate convenes Jan. 6?

More Supremes: The Strib’s Pat Doyle notes Coleman is already attempting to horse-trade ballots with Franken. Still, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin calls it a win for Franken; the Strib’s print headline “Court: Count All Ballots” is too strong. Scheck says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie believes a counting deal can be worked out and has sunny quotes from both campaigns. This story, from D.C. publication The Hill, is too negative, getting the big things wrong.

For weeks, Franken’s campaign insisted Coleman’s challenges were weaker and masked a DFL lead; Thursday, their point was proven. Norm’s recount lead was all but wiped out in the first of two days canvassing his challenges. Will Franken end up with a triple-digit lead today? Sure, this is a phony number — among other remaining ballot pots, there are 5,000 withdrawn challenges, AP’s Brian Bakst notes. Still, it will be highly symbolic as the leadership number flips from red to blue.

Votes counted twice? Back in the recount’s early days, Coleman forces cast aspersions on Minneapolis election director Cindy Reichert; Thursday, she agreed with them that duplicate ballots may have been counted, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. The pool is apparently 150 votes, apparently tilted toward Franken. Dupes happen when election judges copy damaged ballots. Inadequete marking led to possible overvotes.

The PiPress and (of all outlets) Fox News agree Norm Coleman may have trouble tapping campaign funds to pay DonorGate lawyers. The problem is that Nasser Kazeminy’s alleged funneling of cash to Laurie Coleman’s employer happened before the election. Coleman forces argue that because DonorGate became an election issue, they get to tap that donor base for cash.

Celebrities such as Paul Douglas and LifeTime Fitness exec Bahram Akradi may be out at least $395,000 as a Twin Cities-based “destination club” goes Chapter 11, the Business Journal’s John Vomhof Jr. writes. The Lusso Collection “owns properties in 16 destinations, including multimillion-dollar homes and condos in locations ranging from New York and Hawaii to Italy and The Bahamas.” Click the link for more business names.

“Either the line moves — or we move,” MPR poohbah Bill Kling tells PiPress editorialists about a Cedar Avenue LRT line. It doesn’t get more ultimatum-y than that! The editorialists are even-handed, but note “the same train that threatens to impinge on MPR’s cocoon of silence will bring MPR’s employees and transit-loving listeners into the heart of the city.” MinnPost’s Joe Kimball covered the controversy a few days ago here.

The legislative auditor says, “A pattern is emerging that is concerning and hasn’t been there in the past”: lax state agency financial management, the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury notes. The 16-audit sweep turned up everything from the Sonia Pitt MnDOT fiasco to conflicted DNR employees to boxing commission head Scott LeDoux improperly accepting ringside seats, the Strib’s David Shaffer writes. Salisbury calls it “extensive misuse of state funds.” Gov. Pawlenty swears he’ll get on the stick.

The Strib’s Jim Adams and PiPress’ Christopher Snowbeck say rate cuts have sparked a local refinancing wave, which crashes upon the rocks of tight credit and homes worth too little to fully remortgage.

Two Minnesota lefty ag groups hate Barack Obama’s pick of ex-Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for ag secretary, Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer reports. They say Vilsack is too into factory farming and big biotech that will hurt small farmers and crop diversity. That’s not change they can believe in. Speaking of controversy, MPR re-posts Krista Tippett’s interview with Obama’s chosen inaugural invoker, anti-gay-marriage pastor Rick Warren.

Time to get rid of divided city government in Minneapolis. The Park Board and the city are in a pissing match over extending the local WiFi network into parks, the Strib’s Steve Alexander writes. The issue itself is not major, but in these days of tight budgets, duplication and shuttle diplomacy seem like needless frills.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/19/2008 - 10:12 am.

    Two things are working against a reasonable and speedy outcome to the recount. The first is the high degree of involvement that the two campaigns have in the process – if this was a matter of government agencies following procedures, it’d be done by now.

    The second problem is closely related to why the campaigns are so involved – the campaigns are absolutely frantic and appear to have never left “campaign mode”. They think they can spin everything that happens – or at least that they should spin everything.

    If everyone would just shut up and get to work, we would not be in this mess. The decision is not a huge problem by itself, but it is going to feed into a bad situation that has a lot of hyperventilation to start with.

    I still think the US Senate will choose the winner. At some point, a group of adults has to say the circus is going home and the kids must, too.

  2. Submitted by Tony Wagner on 12/19/2008 - 12:00 pm.

    Eric — I agree, but as a practical matter, there is simply no way you can shut the campaigns completely out of the process. That would mean either no ballot challenges, or all questionable ballots decided behind closed doors. This would be a HUGE transparency issue, and would make the whole process appear illegitimate. Letting both sides publicly haggle over the actual ballots, but delaying more complex challenges for the courts, is the best compromise.

    The current system may not be the most efficient, but it’s going to produce the best outcome (although both campaigns will surely spin that too!).

  3. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/19/2008 - 01:35 pm.

    Tony, I think we agree. I just have the feeling that right now the campaigns are more or less running the process, which is bizarre. No input is probably not acceptable, but there must be a compromise between fairness and efficiency on that score. I think you’re right on.

  4. Submitted by Chris Johnson on 12/22/2008 - 08:07 pm.

    I’ve had it up to here with “MPR poohbah Bill Kling,” as Mr. Brauer calls him in this column. Kling’s grossly oversized ego and sense of self importance has driven me and dozens of my friends and family from ever supporting MPR again. He’s as greedy as the greediest corporate executive and more arrogant than O.J. Simpson, Rudy Giuliani and Rod Blagojevich rolled together.

    How many years has MPR had to think about this? The location of the line was selected before they built their new studios, according to what I read this morning.

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