The press had a field day welcoming Al Franken into the Senate, and now they are taking a few moments to bid Norm Coleman adieu. According to Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press, Coleman had a disapproval rate of 52 percent when he left office, and his approval rating was a scant 38 percent. The Swing State Project clarifies the ratings further: “54% of respondents say that his conduct during the post-election scrum made them less likely to vote for him”; which puts Coleman behind both R.T. Rybak and, by 2 points, Mark Dayton, in a gubernatorial run. These ratings prompted the Atlantic to run an essay arguing that, if Coleman wants to have any sort of political future, he has a lot of rebuilding to do.
In the meanwhile, Coleman’s former colleagues in the Senate weren’t going to let him go without a pat on the back. MinnPost’s own Cynthia Dizikes reports on an hour-long tribute to Coleman from the floor of the Senate, including a few kind words from Amy Klobuchar: “Coleman made a difficult decision, and he did it with such grace. He could have appealed that decision, he could have gone to federal court. It was his right. But, he made a decision, which he felt was best for the state of Minnesota, and the state thanks him for that, and I personally thank him for that.” The AP has this quote from Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander: “[Coleman] deserves an easy humdrum, conventional political race some day.”
It’s been a big week for Metro Transit, for better and worse. For better: Federal stimulus funds will be going to Minnesota transit improvements, to the tune of $60 million; according to Madeleine Baran of MPR, “this will include $51.3 million to replace 117 buses, including 30 hybrid buses, and purchase three new buses.”
For worse: WCCO received reports of Metro Transit buses blowing through red lights at the intersection of Fourth Street and Third Avenue South near Minneapolis City Hall. On July 8, reporter Darcy Pohland headed to the intersection with a camera and, sure enough, filmed bus after bus motoring through red lights. Pohland contacted representatives from Metro Transit and was placated with word that it was under investigation. The following day, Pohland headed out to the intersection again. Sure enough, buses were still running the red.
Former strip club owner Larry Kladek, who was busted last year for a very unusual scheme involving funneling money into a private account from a specially rigged ATM, keeps on bringing the unexpected. James Walsh, reporting for the Star-Tribune, informs us that Kladek is pleading for house arrest, rather than prison time, not because it would be good for him, but because it would be good for the Hmong. It seems Kladek has a 78-acre estate in Inver Grove Heights that he leases to 30 to 60 Hmong families to farm on. “He has to be there every day,” one of the farmers is reported as saying; interestingly, as the Strib points out, that estate also happens to house a multimillion-dollar residence that Kladek purchased, in part, from his ill-got gains.
That’s a lot of pot. Shawn Hogendorf of the Shakopee Valley News reports that authorities seized more than 3,300 marijuana plants — $6 million worth! — during a June 30 drug bust in Savage, Prior Lake and Shakopee; now authorities are hoping there will be reduced marijuana availability, perhaps in order to stem the Slim Jim panic that has gripped this country.
So you’re part of a group of seven Mexican and Guatemalan men arrested in a raid on a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa last year, what do you do? Travel to Minnesota and stage a play about it, of course.
In sports: The Twins are back down to .500, and Strib columnist Jim Souhan is pointing fingers: Look no further than Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker. In the meanwhile, the 2009 football season is nearing, and Vikings defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams are trying to get their suspensions resolved in time to take the field.
There is a monster in Lake Harriet. Admittedly, it’s a fake, as Karla Hult of KARE11 informs us. The dinosaur-like statue was placed there by a private group for reasons they haven’t revealed yet, although they are promising a “big reveal” on their website come next Thursday The creature has already managed to find its way onto YouTube and Flickr.
KARE11’s Scott Seroka reports on an unusually ballsy laptop theft: A North Minneapolis man was sitting in the front room of his house checking his MySpace page when a passer-by reached through the window and nabbed his computer, presumably with a cry of “Yoink!” Perhaps the most perplexing part of this story is the news that people still check their MySpace page.