Gov. Pawlenty won’t seek a third term; let’s go right to who’s next. The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin has a nice roundup: House Minority Leader Marty Seifert sounds in, and businessman Brian Sullivan seems likely. Among the probables: ex-legislator Charlie Weaver and ex-Auditor Pat Anderson, and current lawmakers David Hann, Geoff Michel, Paul Kohls and Laura Brod. Big names floated: Norm Coleman and Jim Ramstad. AP adds ex-Sen. Rod Grams, and notes Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Sen. Michelle Fischbach didn’t deny interest. MPR includes Steve Sviggum. Seemingly out: Michele Bachmann, according to CQ.
The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury notes T-Paw steered Minnesota “to its most conservative course in a half-century.” A Strib analysis observes that “Admirers and critics agree the likable governor always seems like a man on a perpetual journey,” but the only named quotes are from Republicans and conservatives. The story also observes “majorities of Minnesotans” have report liking Pawlenty in “poll after poll,” even as the Strib’s own poll shows the repeat plurality winner’s approval under 50 percent. Politics in Minnesota actually fact-checks T-Paw’s record.
What next for the eventual ex-guv? The Strib’s Pat Lopez says Pawlenty “denied that he had any national aspirations or, in fact, any plans at all” yet continues his peripatetic national travels. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger quotes the guv’s friends insisting he’s not dissembling. Pawlenty’s quote about “Sam’s Club Republicans” gets lots of play, plus the symbolism of welcoming Colin Powell and Rush Limbaugh in the GOP. There’s more than a whiff of Bush 2000 “compassionate conservativism” here, but you remember how that turned out.
By the way, Pawlenty says of the U.S. Senate election certificate, “I’m not going to hold it up or delay it,” but MinnPost’s Eric Black sees wiggle room, and Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko is skeptical. The Strib editorial page is glad Pawlenty is going, but naively hopes he will rethink his “go-it-alone” deficit-closing approach much as lame duck Al Quie did 27 years ago. A gal can dream. The PiPress mostly praises Pawlenty for having “a foot on the brake.”
As you ponder a pol’s future, it worth reading the final part of PiPress Watchdog Deb O’Connor’s series on a family bludgeoned by health problems and bureaucratic bungling. Ask yourself if defunding and administrative fecklessness will make the situation better.
The PiPress’ Julie Forster says the Teamsters are successfully organizing local school bus drivers. About 600 drivers have joined in St. Paul, Brooklyn Park and Oakdale, though the union may have suffered a narrow loss in Arden Hills. The spur is the usual: lack of benefits, better pay. Nationally, 50 percent of drivers are unionized, but efforts here began only recently.
Minnesota 2020, founded by charter school critic Matt Entenza, criticizes charters in a new report. The PiPress’ Doug Belden says the group analyzed state data on financial-audit problems and compiled serious offenders. State and charter officials blame the messenger but don’t really dispute it, noting public districts have similar problems. The report got a news boost with word an ex-director ripped off a Minneapolis charter for $1.4 million; the 2020 report notes the red flags from 2007. The Strib’s JonTevlin has a nice column on that scam.
The Strib’s Lora Pabst chronicles the maddening case of witnesses turning tail in the killing of a 20-year-old Augsburg student last fall. Members of the Somali community fear for their safety, noting other cases where suspects have been released. The police say Ramadan Abdi Shiekh Osman, 17, is getting away with murder; his side’s not quoted. Charges were dropped but police say the case will remain open in case people change their minds. Religious authorities are telling witnesses to do so.
The anti-Mark Ritchie hit group Minnesota Majority gets publicity for questionable claims. KSTP’s Mark Albert hypes the group’s claims of dead people fraudulently voting before obliterating the group’s alleged proof. The five cases the group gave Albert all prove to be simple human error, not fraud. The group will have a press conference today alleging 2,812 dead people voted. Will they get headlines despite the questionable merit of their claims?
Freak beat: The Strib’s Maura Lerner says the parents of two severely ill children stashed a camera on the premises and caught an overnight home health worker skipping the kids’ meds, sleeping on the job, and having sex. The PiPress’ Jeremy Olson notes it was an isolated case for the worker’s employer. Lerner says the incident was among several complaints released by a state office.
Elsewhere on the health beat, City Pages’ Erin Carlyle takes vaccine resisters to the woodshed in a feature on the re-emergence of the Hib virus. There will be lots of letters about the alleged causality; the outbreak may stem from a 2007 vaccine shortage, not resisters, though their numbers grew from 0.2 percent in 1992 to 1.3 percent in 2002, the last year available. Health authorities are using the outbreak to fight back.
Is it just me or is this million-dollar plan to change signs around the airport kinda nuts? Will the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals be any easier to find if they become Terminal 1 and Terminal 2? The Strib’s Suzanne Ziegler cites one practical improvement: Highway signs would list specific airlines, important since the terminals have separate exits. But, like Patrick McGoohan’s Prisoner, Sun Country doesn’t like subverting its Humphrey identity to a number.
Ashmageddon: Eight more trees come down in St. Paul, and the Strib has a nicely designed package on where the ashes will die. As ESPN might note, you can’t stop the ash borer, you can only hope to contain it.
Minneapolis’ Shubert Theater will finally be reconstructed after the City Council threw another $2 million its way, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports. All told, the dance palace received half of its $38 million from government sources. Bigger employment projects were nixed or trimmed, but downtown amusement deals still have such power. The Shubert was rolled off Block E a decade ago. KSTP has a list of other projects receiving $1.6 million in Obamabucks.
Across the river, Ramsey County approved the $8.2 million acquisition of the Union Depot, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick writes. It’ll be a transit hub.
Remember the Minnesota Daily story a week or so ago about St. Paul cops and the Motion Picture Association of America nailing alleged DVD pirates? In the Daily’s letters column, the informant proudly reveals himself. He’s Minneapolis blogger Johnny Northside, with an interesting tale to tell about getting the authorities’ attention.
Nort spews: The Twins struggled in the late innings to beat a hapless Cleveland team 4-3 at the Dome, but Joe Mauer went 4-for-4 with a homer and raised his average to .434. Sore Loser here. The Strib’s Mary Lynn Smith touts an upper-deck, foul territory, Target Field playpen here. Don Zierden, the Lynx coach, quit just days before the season to join Flip Saunders in Washington, the Strib’s Roman Augustoviz writes.