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Daily Glean: Three judges to Norm’s lawyers: Your case is inadequate

Coleman’s likely election contest loss becomes extremely likely as judges rule out hundreds of ballots for insufficient evidence. Also: getting catty about the Legislature.

The three-judge panel stepped on Norm Coleman’s oxygen hose by limiting reviewable Senate absentee ballots to 400; Coleman, who trails by 225, announced a Minnesota Supreme Court appeal. Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg berated the “almost April Fool’s Day” decision, but judges tartly noted Ginsberg’s side presented inadequate evidence; the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger says ballots in GOP-friendly Wright, Olmstead and Minnetonka were excised as a result. Still, the Strib’s Pat Doyle and Kevin Duchschere say 61 percent of the ballots come from Coleman-leaning areas.

More Senate contest: Trouble is, the 400-ballot pool will be cut by third-party votes, and 50 of the 400 are known Franken votes. That means Norm probably would have to win 90-plus percent of what’s left. He hasn’t even received a majority in previous rounds. The ballots will be sifted and valid ones counted in open court April 7. The Strib notes the court didn’t rule on alleged double-counting and lost ballots, but pro-Norm decisions there are highly unlikely. D.C. horserace site Politico ponders Sen. Franken.

WCCO’s Pat Kessler lambastes Attorney General Lori Swanson’s weird, pricey office renovation. The $400,000 fixup includes $15,000 soundproof doors, which even the governor doesn’t have. The AG, who commands the camera when she announces investigations, refuses to talk to Kessler. A spokesperson says it’s a security thing, though given how Swanson has pissed off her unionization-hungry staff in recent years, perhaps it’s internal security. The renovations were begun under Mike Hatch.

More renovations: Some of the expenses, like a $6,000 carpet with the state seal, seem like small beer, but the true ick factor? Swanson and Hatch turned all the portraits of their predecessors into black-and-white; only they are in color. Ugh.

Two heavily covered gubernatorial press conferences later, and all we got for collaborating with Wisconsin is $10 million? I understand every penny helps — this would fix up 25 attorney general’s offices! — but given respective $5 billion deficits, this falls into the category of publicity stunt. Nevertheless, Govs. Pawlenty and Doyle hold out the hope for future savings, the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury reports. The states could jointly purchase prison food, inspections, child-support data and small-package delivery contracts. At least we’re not arguing about tuition reciprocity.

It’s more infotainment than information, but City Pages publishes 32 anonymous lobbyists’ catty and praiseworthy comments about 29 DFL legislators. The alt-weekly limited the poll to Minnesota and St. Paul lawmakers (assuring no Republicans would be judged); they sent out 1,350 surveys and got a 2.3 percent response rate. Given the low returns, it would be good to know what interests were generally represented; maybe next year. Margaret Kelliher and Paul Thissen get high marks; Patricia Torres Ray and Cy Thao get dissed.

Boom, just like that, Southwest Airlines added another destination from Minneapolis: Denver, the gateway to the West. The Strib’s Susan Ziegler says the one-way fare is $89, and travelers can connect to 32 cities. Flights begin May 26, just in time for the summer travel season. Ziegler notes Southwest’s Denver fares aren’t much different than current Northwest and Frontier offerings, but of course, Southwest doesn’t charge for bags.

A state study says Somali kids are two to seven times more likely to receive autism services in Minneapolis public schools, the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson reports. It doesn’t cinch the claim there’s an autism cluster locally, the Strib’s Maura Lerner insists, but it doesn’t hurt. About 1 to 1.5 percent of Somali 3- and 4-year-olds receive such services, but the sample is skewed by who seeks help. The state health commissioner, saying the results are “one step in a longer journey,” plans a further examination. By the way, a fourth of the kids in the program weren’t autistic; they had other disorders.

The Strib’s Sarah Lemagie says Shakopee had the third-fastest Hispanic-student growth rate among U.S. suburbs in a new Pew study. Minnesota ‘burbs were all over the map in segregation measures, but the state ranked relatively well overall. Osseo has 10 schools with minority populations more than 20 percent above district averages.

A Minneapolis officer at the center of a wrongful-death suit was given a medal of valor, the Strib’s David Chanen reports. For the moment, there’s less here than meets the eye; despite some circumstantial evidence that a gun might’ve been planted near victim Fong Lee, the allegations are in an unadjudicated civil suit. However, the police union head, of all people, notes medals have not been awarded in less-contentious cases. The PiPress’ David Hanners, who’s been all over this tale, explores Lee’s final moments.

No surprise: The Craigslist killer was found guilty of all counts, including first-degree premeditated murder, everyone reports. Michael Anderson will be sentenced today at 10:30 a.m., the PiPress’ John Brewer reports. The Strib’s Abby Simons notes Anderson, unsurprisingly, showed no reaction. The defense says it was stymied because it couldn’t discuss the impassive defendant’s Asperger’s Syndrome.

The Strib’s Paul Walsh writes a hard-to-resist obit for a “world-class chain smoker.” Sixty-six-year-old Margaret Madigan “lived with gusto” — even though she had a stroke “several years ago” whose complications ultimately killed her. As sassy as she sounds, the story is actually pretty depressing.

Flood of the future?
The Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Laura Grossman reports a Lanesboro hydro-power dam was damaged by last year’s floods and needs $1.4 million in repairs. I’m not sure what a scouring hole is, but it’s deepened and some of the dam’s limestone has been damaged. Officials say there’s no imminent danger of collapse, but it’s close to residential areas and has been classified “high hazard.”

A judge dismissed all claims against the Department of Homeland Security stemming from a controversial 2006 Worthington immigration raid, AP reports. Plaintiffs alleged they had their constitutional rights violated. The sweep affected 1,200 people, resulted in 239 arrests; no word on convictions.

Twin Cities home prices fell another 20 percent for the 12 months ending in January, the Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus reports. Building permits also remain at rock bottom. But the number may be less scary than it seems; it doesn’t distinguish between lender-mediated foreclosure sales and traditional ones. As banks scurry for the exits, the recovery, such as it may be, could start in a couple of months. We’ll see.

Nort spews: No playoffs for you: The Wild’s chances lessened as they lost a home overtime game 2-1 to Vancouver. They remain three points out of post-season with five games to play. In the land of the lottery, Dallas decimated the Wolves 108-88, who regained fifth (worst) place in the NBA. The PiPress’ Dave Orrick takes a closer look at momentum behind a new Saints baseball stadium.