The Strib notes Gov. Pawlenty’s State of the State speech is expected to propose “cuts in every corner.” However, a Pawlenty appointee, Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, asks: “What part of justice do you want to stop serving?” according to the PiPress’ Dennis Lien. Pawlenty has asked departments to game-plan a 10 percent cut; the courts want a 7 percent increase.
Public safety priorities: MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki and the PiPress’ Ruben Rosario provide good overviews of the cascading, ultimately costly scenario if cuts are instituted. Foreclosures, bankruptcies and recession-related civil surges are surging, and court officials say triage is their only budgetary response. “Trespass, worthless checks, traffic and ordinance violations, juvenile truancy, runaways, underage drinking, consumer credit disputes, property related and small civil claims. Imagine we take all that off the table because we can’t do it,” Magnuson says.
More public safety: Hennepin County GOP Sheriff Rick Stanek says cuts would also mean not processing lesser offenses such as “fifth-degree assaults [and] damage to property.” The reverse broken-windows strategy means higher costs for bigger future crimes. The result? “A negative impact on public safety in this state,” Stanek concludes.
Back to the State of the State: The Strib’s Pat Lopez notes these facets: tax cuts, including a 100 percent sales tax exemption for some business purchases and no tax hikes. She adds: “… the administration may consider a wage freeze that could extend to all employees who receive state funds, but that no final decisions had been made.” The Strib’s editorial page says Pawlenty reversed himself on high-speed interstate rail — if the feds buy.
The report from St. Paul’s blue-ribbon panel on RNC policing is in, with only mild rebukes for law enforcers. The PiPress’ Dave Orrick writes the panel criticized a final-night mass arrest on the Marion Street Bridge, but no agency is set to follow up. Lab tests confirm protesters hurled urine, and violence was a real threat. Protesters say the report whitewashed contentions that the police went too far; six cases of misconduct deserve further looks, the panel notes.
More RNC policing: Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko reports that St. Paul’s slow-to-conclude joint-police deals meant uneven training; MPR’s Laura Yuen says immobile cops led to “whack-a-mole” policing on Day One. There was also no policy about journalist arrests. A PiPress editorial asserts that by design, the report was not “definitive,” but who fills in the rest of the puzzle? City Council members make inconclusive noises about follow-up; a police internal report is due by the end of this month.
Hiding the evidence? The panel won’t make notes or memos public, but Orrick says they are, under state law. The Strib’s Chris Havens and Pat Pheifer write that the authors blamed the media for focusing on violent protesters rather than peaceful ones.
Fox9’s Tom Lyden offers up phone call transcripts between Minneapolis Police Lt. Lee Edwards and a gangbanger. Authorities declined to prosecute Edwards earlier this week because cash didn’t change hands between Edwards and Taylor Trump; however, the dialogue shows Edwards warning Trump of police surveillance and (unknowingly) tipping him off to an undercover operation. Edwards also is heard accusing Chief Tim Dolan of racism; Dolan will be the decider on a police internal affairs report.
St. Paul’s median home sale prices plunged 24 percent last year, the PiPress’ Christopher Snowbeck reports. However, for the first time in five years, new metro foreclosure listings dropped — 4.3 percent over the previous quarter. The average foreclosure fetched $145,000, compared with $223,000 for non-foreclosures. It would’ve been interesting to know the mix in St. Paul, given the dire numbers. Arden Hills prices went up 10 percent.
Your election contest minute: The Supreme Court will hear Al Franken’s argument for an election certificate Feb. 5, “smack-dab in the middle of Coleman’s proposed judicial review of the recount,” the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin writes. A bunch of Republican activists sued over alleged double-counting. And in the Wall St. Journal, local constitutional law professor Michael Paulsen argues that the recount violates Bush v. Gore, but not that opinion’s most obnoxious part.
If you were paying attention in the ’90s, the name of event planner Paul Ridgeway was ubiquitous: the Super Bowl, the Gorbachev visit, etc. Ridgeway is now in deep financial trouble: He owes 11 grand to a bunch of high school kids who parked cars at the U.S. Women’s Open, plus $114,000 for unpaid credit card debt, the Strib’s David Phelps reports. Republican convention contractors have also gone begging. An investment in a moribund “World Asian Marketplace” appears to be a big culprit.
Terming it “more of a cease-fire than a peace treaty,” the Strib’s Jim Foti says MPR and the Met Council will “work together” to reduce noise and vibrations from LRT. MPR, which has staged a high-decibel campaign on the issue, doesn’t make all that nice: “Our engineers and consultants remain skeptical,” wrote MPR chief Bill Kling after the meeting. The controversy has helped delay the Central Corridor’s 2010 construction start by a few months.
Why is Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources selling land when the state may be buying with new habitat sales tax money? It’s the law, writes the PiPress’ Chris Niskanen — specifically, a 2005 budget-balancing statute passed well before the habitat tax was approved in November. Niskanen says there’s “strong” support on a Senate committee to repeal the law, which mandates $4.2 million in sell-offs by June 30. No word on how, in a big deficit year, the guv stands on this one.
The number of felony sentences was down 1.7 percent in 2007, the first drop in five years, according to just-released data, the PiPress’ Dennis Lien reports. Leveling DWI and meth felonies contributed to the decline. But “all-purpose” felonies, “such as discharging a firearm, bribery or fleeing a police officer, increased by 3.5 percent.”
The Strib editorial page says the Metropolitan Airports Commission should stop pretending it has any leverage over Delta and sign a renegotiated bond-payback deal. Of course, having no leverage means Delta’s job-and-flight guarantees aren’t worth much, so this is an empty ritual all around.
Photos of a corn silo collapsing; time-lapse photos on the right of this page.
Police catch two local woman who’ve stolen hundreds of cans of baby formula, KSTP reports. Suggested sentence: 10 years as a wet nurse.
I am not, by nature, a human interest guy, but I’d like to recommend the community college profiles MPR’s Bob Collins is doing on his News Cut blog. They’re easy-to-glean but rich tales of human experience that seem especially rewarding in bleak times.