Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


First Minneapolis, later the state? Court legalizes instant runoff voting

Minnesota Supremes bat away a legal challenge to ranked-choice voting. Also: Chrissie Hynde has a cow.

The state Supreme Court resoundingly ruled Minneapolis’ instant runoff voting constitutional, removing an obstacle for St. Paul’s and Duluth’s adoption, AP notes. Strib editorialists, who have long supported IRV, urge the Minneapolis City Council to approve a resolution today confirming the city ready to go this fall. They note this is an experiment, but one that is long overdue. The Strib’s Steve Brandt says voter education begins in August and the city hired a veteran Hennepin County official to run things.

More IRV: The PiPress’ Dave Orrick and Rachel Stassen-Berger say St. Paul’s City Council will likely put the method on the ballot this fall. IRV opponents, spanked twice in court, promise to campaign hard against adoption. If it works locally, the state might adopt it in the post-Pawlenty era. It’s actually much better suited to state elections, where fields are smaller after party primaries. The method would ensure a majority winner without a runoff election, though it wouldn’t stop recounts. (Disclaimer: I’ve been an IRV advocate.)

Pharmacists received $3.6 million less in pharmaceutical company largess, the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson reports. Last year’s total, $13 million, was down from $16.6 million the year before. An endless conflict-of-interest debate at the U has frozen some doctors from taking the corporate inducements. A legislative push to include medical-device makers in the report died this session.

The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba says House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is presiding over meetings where groups are talking lawsuit over Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotment, but Kelliher insists she’s not pushing for a court fight. DFL leaders, hospitals and cities are kibbitzing.

Related: The Strib’s Chen May Yee writes that Regions Hospital is trying to put a human face on Pawlenty’s potential $36 million cut for indigent care. A gubernatorial spokesman again says Minnesota’s benefits are generous, but the hospital, not the state, could pay for the $150,000 treatment of a 23-year-old mechanic with a brain tumor and no insurance. That’s not reform, governor.

Taxophobic GOP businessman Brian Sullivan
, who almost ended the Pawlenty era before it began, won’t run in 2010, Stassen-Berger reports. Sullivan’s challenge forced Pawlenty to loudly adopt a “no new taxes” pledge in 2002, one reason we’re where we are today.

As the H1N1 flu officially goes pandemic globally, Minnesota has had 221 cases and 46 hospitalizations since the outbreaks began, the PiPress’ Jeremy Olson notes. The Strib’s Maura Lerner says there are 30 new state cases a week. Fox9 has the requisite list of precautions.

After Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak loudly bragged about $5 million in cop money from the Obama administration, the city will only wind up with $3.7 million, the Strib’s Steve Brandt reports. In a move unhelpful for gubernatorial ambitions, Rybak tried to get all of Hennepin County’s share, but that board wound up splitting it with the ‘burbs. Seventeen college-age police support staffers were let go, but it’s unclear about other Minneapolis force reductions.

Smart Politics’ Eric Ostermeier charts the amazing drop in Minneapolis crime even as unemployment rises. The city’s jobless rate, 6.9 percent, is lower than the state or nation, but more than double that of 2000; meanwhile, crime has fallen by a third. Then again, north Minneapolis had another murder last night, WCCO reports. It’s the fifth in the city this year, the Strib’s Lora Pabst says.

Related: Politics in Minnesota’s Steve Perry says the state’s unemployment comp fund is getting dangerously low. Like many states, it will borrow money from the feds if the local spigot runs dry, and potentially raise the unemployment-tax rate to compensate.

Fox9’s Tom Lyden has a good piece on a north Minneapolis church’s descent into foreclosure. “We blew it,” says New Salem Baptist Church Rev. Jerry MacAfee. His congregation, which just a few years ago had zero debt, owes $3.4 million after buying a building for a charter school. The state closed the school the next year for management problems. Lyden says New Salem is one of a dozen north-side churches in foreclosure. Who the heck will ever buy them from the bank?

More church foreclosure: MacAfee, a controversial pastor who’s often in the headlines alleging police and political discrimination, says he’s not as bad as Denny Hecker, and his ministry will continue. By the way, the Strib’s Dee DePass says the state revoked Denny Hecker’s mortgage license yesterday.

Here’s a new one: Swindler’s parents plead guilty to helping offspring launder money, the Strib’s Dan Browning reports. Nghia Trong Dao and Nguyet Thi Le filed false tax returns to help their daughter, Kalin Dao, strip $10 million from locals. She was abetting a gambling problem; they get from six to 18 months in the pokey.

Flu-reated? WCCO’s Bill Hudson says Delta will cut 10 percent of its domestic flights this year, and 15 percent internationally — but none in the Twin Cities. Delta must maintain certain staffing and flight loads as part of state-guaranteed financing deal, but the Pawlenty administration is still waiting for a reply to a data request. H1N1 has helped cut global demand, the airline says.

Although I was really looking forward to seeing Chrissie Hynde at the Minnesota Zoo, the PETA proponent’s Pretenders concert will be moved to the Orpheum Aug. 19, the PiPress’ Ross Raihala reports. Hynde didn’t like the zoo slaughtering farm animals once a summertime exhibit ended.

If you need your fix of auctioneer cadence
, MPR’s Dan Gunderson offers an engaging look at the 46th World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, which is in Fergus Falls this weekend.

The PiPress’ Chris Hewitt has a fun piece on local musician Mark Mallman, whose sidelight is creating snippets of movie-trailer music for films like “Wall-E” and “Star Trek.” There are links to Mallman’s all-time favorite music-embedded trailers, but no samples of the work Hewitt writes well about.

The U’s sports arenas will be bone-dry next season as President Bob Bruininks banned booze in response to a legislative ultimatum, AP’s Brian Bakst reports. Lawmakers said all adults had to get access to liquor, or none would. The Strib’s Jenna Ross says Bruininks was not willing to make the U the only Big Ten school with booze in general seating. However, it’s a fermented come-down from the Dome, where beer was sold, and could cost revenue from suite sales, where folks will party like Carrie Nation.

Nort spews: The Twins just couldn’t bear to win a series on the road, suffering a come-from-ahead loss to Oakland 4-3. The Favre Threat Level is now Yellow (Significant risk of Favre signing) after Brad Childress revealed a phone call to the phlegmatic quarterback last week and said there was no deadline on the signing. The PiPress’ Bob Sansevere talks to Wally The Beerman, recovering from a triple bypass.