Norm Coleman woke up, saw his shadow, and now we have six more weeks of recount. (OK, technically, election contest.) The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger terms Coleman’s complaints “vast” — not just alleged double counting, wrongly considered absentees and lost ballots, but inconsistent Canvass Board judgments, non-registrees’ votes, and ballots uninitialed by election judges. Coleman’s announcement came at a “hybrid news event and political rally” where “fans jeered reporters.” Dignified.
The contest itself: The Strib’s Pat Doyle and Kevin Duchschere note Justice Alan Page will appoint the three-judge panel to hear the contest; Chief Justice Eric Magnuson recused himself because he sat on the Canvassing Board. This will probably draw howls from Coleman’s jeering crowd, who consider Page a DFLer. A civil trial must begin within 20 days and could last two months. Coleman’s lawyers promise witnesses who will testify to double counting.
Who buys? Republicans have long touted “loser pays” legislation for lawsuits; with the election contest, they’ll get their wish. According to MPR’s Curtis Gilbert, state law says the loser “has to reimburse the government for any expenses related to the contest.” The PiPress reprints the statute here. How much are Coleman and Franken spending on this massive legal effort? They aren’t saying, but Gilbert notes fundraising reports are due at the end of January.
A matter of recount opinion: No one has more clearly and fairly explained the recount than the Pioneer Press editorial page; they offer another good scene-setter today. In contrast, Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller notes the paper reprints a Wall Street Journal editorial criticized for factual errors; meanwhile, Joe Soucheray channels the Journal, alleging the recount process “quite likely produced corruption.” It’s a howler that relies on the “Mark Ritchie/ACORN” link without mentioning that another Canvassing Board member is an ex-GOP party lawyer.
But how does the nation see us? The New York Times says the recount is making Minnesotans not so nice. While Coleman claimed in his speech that only a “small number” of people want to move on, correspondent Kirk Johnson finds plenty of folks on the street willing to do so. (Coleman’s future is questioned if he loses.) But while noting ambient disgust with things dragging on, Johnson says many Minnesotans are also riveted by democracy’s spectacle.
The usually spineless Metropolitan Airports Commission stiffened by stalling a reworked legal agreement with Delta, the PiPress’ John Welbes reports. By moving NWA’s headquaters, Delta must rework an NWA borrowing deal tied to job and flight guarantees, the Strib’s Liz Fedor notes. Delta wants to delay repayment; MAC commissioners want the three-year agreement lengthened to seven, rebuffing the airline’s “do it now” ultimatum. AP offers a sunnier view; one MACer says there’s “unanimous support for the major components of the term sheet.”
The usual ticky-tack marked the opening of the state Legislature. The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury says Republican senators introduced a measure to cut stamp use, saving $56,000; another measure would end travel. Both gestures failed; majority Democrats note each chamber cut expenses $800K in December. The Senate GOP leader says to expect more petty point-scoring. (Actually, he said “feistiness.”) KARE’s John Croman says Senate Republicans ripped DFLers for not shortening the 44 days they will take to answer the governor’s budget proposal. (MinnPost coverage here.)
Rising revenues: MPR’s Dan Olson notes that one area that won’t be cut is transportation; 2008’s gas-tax hike will produce a 50 percent bump this year, even with $20 million in lost gas-tax revenues from reduced driving.
What is it with Milwaukee? First Jeffrey Dahmer, now creepy dead child-porn addict with Jacob Wetterling photos all over his house. The PiPress’ Tad Vezner quotes police saying there’s no connection to Wetterling’s abduction, but there are grisly details such as manacles and fresh cement in the basement. On a more uplifting note, KSTP’s Jennifer Griswold profiles one of Wetterling’s sixth-grade classmates who’s made her life’s work keeping kids safe from predators.
Edina may have to give up its “Cake eater” title, the Strib’s Mary Jane Smetanka reports. Interim Census data show the Edina’s median income fifth among “fully developed suburbs” — behind Champlin, Minnetonka, Golden Valley and Shoreview. Another interesting data point: 22 percent of Richfielders speak a language other than English at home.
An anonymous donor gave $500,000 to the United Way’s emergency food drive, the Business Journal’s Chris Newmarker writes. All told, the organization has raised $1.25 million in three months to supplement its annual $2 million food-shelf budget.
The Minnesota Daily won’t be anymore, at least on weekdays. The Strib’s Jenna Ross says the campus paper is torching its Friday edition and expanding online. The publication will save $120,000 a year on printing; like everyone else, it’s seen ad sales implode. This makes a story by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s Bill Souder particularly well-timed: he talks to U journalism students about why they’re in this imploding business and finds a “dynamic future” that may, at least, serve youth.
If you’re grossed out by tongue piercing, you’ll enjoy this tale of administrative justice from Strib “Watchdog” correspondent James Shiffer. (Fun headline, too.)
Nort spews: Call it Improbability Day on the local sports scene; the Wolves won their third in a row (over almost-as-lowly Memphis) while the Wild shut out the newly powerful Boston Bruins.