Gumshoe reporting is breaking out all over. First, the PiPress staked out the airport for Meria Carstarphen; now we have the Strib running an ad in a Massachusetts paper to see if an alleged Petters money launderer abetted while in witness protection. Sixty-seven-year-old Larry Reynolds got his Social Security card in the mid-’80s, David Phelps reports, and the feds won’t say where he is. Reynolds has turned on Petters, but being on the government’s payroll could impugn his testimony.
Budget forecast aftermath: Gov. Pawlenty still won’t raise taxes (except local property taxes); Dems again say “all options are on the table.” The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury writes that the guv still wants a 2 percent education hike; MPR’s Tom Scheck says DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller may be floating ed cuts to help the tax-hike case. A Strib editorial says Dems had better get an alternative budget together quickly. The Strib’s Pat Lopez notes silent protesters bearing “Chop from the Top” signs.
KSTP tries to gin up a scandal, reporting that Minnesota’s cities collectively have $1.5 billion in reserves at a time when many are fighting Pawlenty’s local-government aid cuts. But it’s precisely because of similar massive cuts last time around that many cities banked the money. Two GOP taxophobes are interviewed; no mayor or city rep gets to respond.
Related: One reason localities hoard cash? “Breathtakingly bad” pension losses in Minneapolis, writes the Strib’s Steve Brandt. The city — which KSTP notes has $133 million squirreled away — faces a $116 million pension gap due to the market crash. Payback amounts to a double LGA cut. Other cities will face this problem, but Minneapolis’ is worse because its funds are long closed, meaning no workers now support retirees. Beneficiaries won’t give up control to help stretch gap repayment.
Also related: If you think it’s just big-city liberals who loathe Pawlenty’s LGA policies, check out this blast from the Fargo Forum columnist Mike Feely, who blasts the guv as a metrocentric climber screwing over the rest of the state’s burghs, big and small.
In Minnesota, Barack Obama’s approval rating fell 2 percent during the past month — the smallest decline among SurveyUSA’s 14 polled states, Smart Politics’ Eric Ostermeier notes. Obama’s approval is at 62 percent here; his favorables fell 10 percent in places like Wisconsin. Other polls have shown the decline largely confined to Republicans. By the way, I wrote yesterday that Ostermeier didn’t include gubernatorial party in his deficit-states analysis; he did offer a collective figure.
Via Secrets of the City’s Max Sparber, the New York Times profiles a sketchy Minneapolis company called DCM Services, which debt-collects from relatives of the dead — who often have no legal obligation to pay. The company claims it informs survivors of that fact, but the job is so grisly that workers get yoga classes, foosball tables, free snacks, and a masseuse. Call it Spa Slimeball.
St. Paul plans to have a new superintendent by fall, or perhaps sooner, the PiPress’ Doug Belden reports. Board members are still debating the primacy of local ties. Soon-to-be-ex-super Meria Carstarphen says Austin’s size, salary and union-lite environment weren’t priorities in her decision — was it our breath? It is closer to her Southern roots, Belden notes, but that’s not completely convincing.
What will Minneapolis hillbillies do? The Strib’s Brandt reports on a move to ban upholstered sofas from the city’s yards. Advocates say the indoor furniture looks like crap outdoors, gets moldy, and becomes a vermin hotel. U-area homeowners are especially bummed. There are ordinances like this in six other college towns. Furniture advocates are unheard from.
Reckless, but still very cool: St. Paul cops arrested six “urban snowboarders” who built a 6-foot ramp to propel them off a 30-foot limestone cliff … onto railroad tracks. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried says a witness who turned in the West Coast dudes nevertheless called the escapade “pretty cool.” The suspects work for Vermont’s Burton Snowboards, and their blog entry is here.
In a deepcession-wracked economy, which company wants to attach its name to a building everyone hates? WCCO’s James Schugel says to get the Vikes more money, Metrodome naming rights are up for grabs. Not the building per se, but the field, though there might be an ad painted on the roof. That ought to make the place lighter and cheerier!
Nort spews: Vancouver thumped the Wild 4-2; Minnesota is now in 11th place, three points out of the playoffs. On a day the Wolves cut season ticket prices, they cut their own throats with an awful 118-94 loss to Golden State. SOTC’s Britt Robson, who has a cast-iron stomach for such things, calls the performance “unprofessional.” The Strib’s John Millea profiles state wrestling contestant Elissa Reinsma, the first girl to qualify.