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Daily Glean: Re-igniting the fight over Muslim-backed charter

The ACLU picks up Katherine Kersten’s cudgel. Also: the best duplicate-ballot story so far.

Is the TIZA charter school a “pervasively Muslim school that teaches religion?” That’s what the head of the Minnesota ACLU says, after filing suit inspired by ex-Stribber Katherine Kersten’s columns. Among the claims: religious material on bulletin boards, rules requiring women to cover themselves from “neck to wrist and ankle,” and prayer during school times. The PiPress’ Megan Boldt notes a state ed official doesn’t dis the ACLU suit; the department investigated and largely exonerated the school last year.

More TIZA: The ACLU notes interlocking board relationships between the school and its Muslim-group sponsors, claiming the state didn’t properly review rent and cash-funneling arrangements, the Strib’s Randy Furst and Sarah Lemagie write. A TIZA spokesperson says the ACLU spurned an invitation to visit; the civil libertarians says the school spurned a reschedule. At least one DFL legislator says Christian-influenced charters are in the same boat, but no schools are cited.

The Strib’s Kevin Diaz and Pat Doyle quote U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid saying, “The race in Minnesota is over with. … There’s no way the elections results are going to change.” (The PiPress’ Ben Garvin has video of the cocky comment.) The PiPress’ Jim Ragsdale flays Reid for attempting a court end run, and notes the Nevadan later said he would wait for a court decision.

More D.C. Senate sparring: Franken says he wants to be seated provisionally to help divvy up the stimulus; Norm Coleman is shocked, shocked, even though he could get the seat back under the provisional rule.

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Meanwhile, back in Ramsey County: The PiPress Rachel Stassen-Berger thinks there’s little chance the three-judge panel will throw out Coleman’s contest; she notes that Norm’s D.C. legal team has come out of the shadows for the case. Bush v. Gore barrister Ben Ginsburg now sits at Coleman’s table. Franken contends that the Coleman’s claims are vague, Minnesota needs two senators, and the U.S. Senate should decide. Nice try, Al. (MinnPost coverage here.)

MPR’s Curtis Gilbert produces the best story so far on alleged ballot double-counting. His trick? Talking to Minneapolis election judges, who are fairly but not totally sure originals and duplicates weren’t counted together. Gilbert says there’s enough uncertainty to give Coleman an opening, but perhaps not enough proof to toss out votes. He says allegations about 12 double-counted votes in one Minneapolis precinct are wrong, however.

Gov. Pawlenty wants any local government getting money from the state to freeze salaries, MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports. “So much for local control,” responds a DFLer. There are these nasty things call contracts that can get in the way, local officials note. Verdict: mostly gimmick, though the governor carries a big stick when it comes to Local Government Aid.

The House GOP proposed that new arrivals receive only the welfare checks their old state paid, for a year, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba reports. The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin notes 14 percent of Minnesota’s welfare recipients applied for bennies within 12 months of arrival. The $16 million cost isn’t much, even if you assume anyone who moves here is a scammer. What reduces this policy prescription to a stunt: Courts have repeatedly ruled asymmetric benefits unconstitutional. But it makes a good news conference!

Gov. Pawlenty picked another personal lawyer for the bench. This time, it was his general counsel, Karen Janisch, for Hennepin County District Court, the Strib’s Rochelle Olson writes. Thirteen months ago, the governor elevated Christopher Dietzen, the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended him against campaign finance violations, to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Fox9 reports U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has won a seat on the Judiciary Committee; she’ll get to vet Supreme Court and other top judicial picks. The St. Paul Legal Ledger’s Charley Shaw says freshman U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen scored a seat on three Financial Services subcommittees: Oversight and Investigations, Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, and Domestic and International Monetary Policy.

Two Albert Lea 19-year-olds were arraigned for abusing Alzheimer’s patients; they didn’t enter pleas, AP’s Amy Forliti reports. She details some of the noxious complaints, including one teen sticking her bare butt in a patient’s face and poking her breasts; another “admitted to lying on the bed with [a second] woman, hugging her, kissing her forehead and telling her she loved her.”

Fairview Health systems will stop electively inducing births at 39 weeks, the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson reports. That’s to reduce birth injuries, unhealthy internal organs and of course, special care costs. Fairview Southdale has reduced elective inducing from 15 percent of births to 2 percent and seen special-care nursery admissions slide by an unstated amount. Meanwhile, Park Nicollet will become the first Minnesota health system requiring docs to disclose drug/device company relationships, says the Strib’s Janet Moore.

Everybody goes nuts over a Minneapolis skyway offered for $79,000 on Craigslist. It’s a 1,380-square-foot structure that once connected Powers and J.C. Penney’s, writes the Strib’s Lora Pabst. The architect-sellers say the steel alone is worth $250,000. (Yeah, right; you telling me you wouldn’t sell it for scrap in this recession?) I have to admit, it looks like it would make a cool cabin, assuming those windows are sealed and weatherproofed! Update: Finance and Commerce’s Brian Johnson gets credit for breaking this story Tuesday; he notes the glass is insulated.

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In other wind-spitting news conferences, St. Paul billboard opponents are still fighting, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick writes. They re-started their teardown campaign by noting the Capital City has 561 placards, compared with larger Minneapolis’ 300. The last time the city busted a move to get rid of the worst ones, the Legislature blocked it. Question: Who even has money to advertise anymore?

The Strib’s Chris Serres says U.S. Bank can’t avoid financial contagion, even though it remains relatively healthy. The Minneapolis bank, which largely eschewed toxic mortgages, saw nonperforming loans quadruple, but remains profitable with loans and deposits rising. Its percentage of bad debt, 1.2 percent, remains below the industry’s 1.4 percent average. Still, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger quotes the CEO saying, “The world will get worse before it gets better.”

The DFL-dominated state Senate apparently likes the rewritten Delta bond repayment deal, the Strib’s Liz Fedor reports. The Senate’s counsel says givebacks on jobs, flights and the headquarters location don’t require legislative approval. A loud Democratic senator who opposed the deal, Eagan’s Jim Carlson, is now singing a mellower tune.

The Strib’s Matt McKinney unearths an Iowa mom-and-pop store’s suit against local grocery giant SuperValu, for colluding to divvy up distribution territory. For a while, the plaintiff had to pay an additional $75,000 a year, but now buys from another local distributor who’s not a party to the suit.

Local super-lawyers Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi picked up an L.A. entertainment practice, the Business Journal’s Jennifer Niemela writes.

Nort spews: You’ll be putting your fannies in them for the next couple of decades, so get to know your new Target Field seats, from KSTP.