Salt in the wound: Al Franken filed a motion asking for $16,132 from Norm Coleman — the cherry on top of last week’s U.S. Senate election contest win, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger notes. The fees stem from a ruling that Coleman’s attorneys failed to adequately disclose witness testimony. According to the filing, Franken’s lawyers made between $418 and $538 an hour.
Related: Forum Communications’ Scott Wente adds that Coleman wants to file his Minnesota Supreme briefs May 15, rather than May 4 as suggested by Franken. The Strib quotes one expert opining that the date should be somewhere in the middle. Split the baby!
Three exurban bankers were indicted on 29 counts of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy, the Strib’s Chris Serres and Jennifer Bjorhus write. The PiPress’ Dave Orrick notes the trio (who allegedly defrauded the 322-acre Ramsey Town Center development), could go away for life. Basically, the feds allege the bankers diverted $20 million from the $1.3 billion pipe dream into their own accounts, paying themselves fat fees, including a 30 percent “loan origination” charge. The defendants will plead not guilty.
Welcome to budget-cut reality: The PiPress’ Jeremy Olson says Minnesota hospitals “threatened … to cut health care services for patients suffering from diabetes, mental illness and other diseases if Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature approve steep budget reductions this year.” Uncompensated care costs rose $258 million in 2003 to $601 million, but with $100 million less money coming from the state, hospitals say they’ll slash where legally allowed. A bloody balance sheet is already costing thousands of jobs.
Gov. Pawlenty’s furlough talk? Just that. The Strib’s Kevin Duchschere says Minnesota’s two largest employee unions didn’t have to swallow them, though they agreed to a two-year wage freeze with “step” increases in year two. In return, workers got a health-premium freeze in year one; MPR’s Tim Pugmire offers more details. Over 32,000 AFSCME and MAPE members will vote next month. The guv’s spokesman says the state retains the right to furlough in a fiscal crisis, which means the yellow light is at least blinking.
Thanks to federal stimulus money, PiPress’ Doug Belden says the House capped tuition hikes for the U (3 percent) and MnSCU (2 percent), along with hiring and wage freezes. On the farm side, Forum Communications’ Don Davis details cuts in the Minnesota House ag bill. The Ag Department gets 8.3 percent less, but most of that is from shifting ethanol subsidies to the next biennium.
It’s budget day on the daily editorial pages. The Strib says the state House tax bill is best because it boosts sales taxes and not just income tax hikes, but doesn’t go far enough. Keep corporate and individual incomes down and tax more consumer transactions, the paper again reiterates. The PiPress produces a bowl of mush, asking all sides to be flexible and “be as gentle as possible with the people paying the bills.” Because those sick people are pretty tough.
The St. Cloud Times editorial page backs Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s electoral reforms, including automatic voter registration via driver’s license application, a longer early-voting window, and streamlining absentee voting.
The City Council in Woodbury, home of many a corporate exec, voted 4-1 to ban protests in residential areas, the PiPress’ Bob Shaw reports. Animal-rights protesters have picketed 3M poohbahs five times over a corporate-owned animal-testing company, the Strib’s Kevin Giles notes. Protest-protesters say the bill is perfectly constitutional, noting several nearby suburbs have similar laws, one of which was passed to stop anti-abortion protesters. Shaw slyly notes “the vote came over the objections of about 10 people — most of them from Minneapolis.”
Whoa: The PiPress’ Gita Sitaramiah notes Target “charged off” 14.2 percent of its credit card debt as bad in March — nearly double the percentage of Capital One (which seems willing to give plastic to anyone with a pulse). Officials blame high unemployment, though every company’s feeling that. The Strib’s Jackie Crosby adds a sunnyside-up: Big Red’s late balances fell, meaning the big write-off number might come down.
Meanwhile, the Business Journal’s Sam Black says the southeast division of local construction giant Opus filed Chapter 11, undone by Florida’s condo bust. The four other divisions are solvent, officials say, though the company laid off 10 percent of its workforce earlier this year, the Strib’s Susan Feyder observes. The Atlanta-based division had just 25 employees.
The Strib’s Sam Barnes says local lakes got cleaner, but only because a mini-drought kept pollutants from being washed into the sparkling water bodies.
WCCO’s Don Shelby waxes enthusiastic about the Star Tribune and newspapers in general. He’s stirred by the Strib’s Minneapolis police-investigation series, calling the paper’s Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy “two of the best reporters on the planet.”
Slow ticket sales, slow writer or slow cast? MPR’s Euan Kerr says the Guthrie has delayed the ballyhooed premiere of Tony Kushner’s “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures,” by one week, to May 22. The run will still end June 28. The Strib’s Claude Peck says Kushner “is expected to be working on script changes right up to previews.” Deadlines suck.
The PiPress’ Mary Divine has a typically great feature on an east metro ‘burb invaded by “cult town” tourists. Marine on St. Croix’s houses are all “snow white with high peaks and metal roofs,” creating an eerily conformist ambiance. MSC became a popular cruising spot thanks to YouTube.
Nort spews: The stinkin’ Twins starters struck again as Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano each threw four putrid innings in a doubleheader loss at Boston. Minnesota is 7-9, two games out of first, and once again has the worst run differential in the league. Meanwhile, the Strib’s Pat Reusse makes the real estate collapse even more painful, noting its effect on Vikings player acquisitions. AP notes ex-Vike Carl Eller gets out of the workhouse today.