As though on cue, Jesse Ventura returns to the news to fill a brief, momentary lull in the Denny Hecker-Tom Petters action. (Not that the former governor has any of their current problems). As Bob von Sternberg writes for the Strib, Ventura’s latest TV project — “Conspiracy Theories with Jesse Ventura” — has been green-lighted by truTV and, to quote the cable channel’s press release in the seven episodes, “Ventura will hunt down answers, plunging viewers into a world of secret meetings, midnight surveillance, shifty characters and dark forces.”
The jokes there really are too easy. Could they mean like skullduggery at the Minnesota Capitol? The fiendish plotting at a Denny Hecker sales meeting? Or maybe world domination launched from a Tom Petters yacht? Insiders familiar with the roiling fiasco that was Ventura’s stillborn MSNBC talk show have to wonder if the big guy has suddenly developed the patience for the pace and committee-driven mind set of TV production. The cable crowd is promising to fly Ventura all over the world, which we know he’ll like.
Until you hear otherwise, it may be safe to suspect that serious Democratic money people made Elwyn Tinklenberg an offer he couldn’t refuse. By all appearances, he got the word that he has already had his shot at Michele Bachmann. Tinklenberg bailed on the 6th Congressional District campaign Tuesday after barely a week as a formal candidate. Last week’s official announcement that Sen. Tarryl Clark wants a shot at Bachmann may very well have doomed Tinklenberg’s chances for a rematch. The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury reports that Tinklenberg “didn’t want to devote the next 13 months to spending time and money trying to defeat two other Democratic candidates — Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud and Dr. Maureen Reed of Stillwater.” Uh-huh.
T.W. Budig, Capitol reporter for ECM Publishers gets a few more quotes out of principals in the 6th District fight. The best — or most predictable — come from Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton, who trots out some classic boilerplate, saying, “With his departure, the DFL Party is left with two committed tax-and-spend liberals, rather than three. No matter how much Tarryl Clark and Maureen Reed try to hide their true colors, 6th District residents aren’t going to be fooled by their records in support of higher taxes, bigger government and runaway spending.” The best part is that Sutton gets paid for quotes like that.
Eric Kleefeld of Talking Points Memo kicks in a bit more on the Tinklenberg departure, including the obvious, namely that, “This could be a sign of the party circling around state Senate assistant majority leader Tarryl Clark.” Oh, and, uh, good luck to you, Dr. Reed.
If there was ever a case study in no good deed going unpunished, it has to be the “Cash for Clunkers” program. The money spent on it — even when it gets revitalized — is basically a rounding error in comparison to what some of the same mewling legislators still wanted to spend on the F-22, but the kvetching and carping are at a fever pitch.
MPR’s Madeleine Baran tossed in a report Tuesday showing that Minnesota — little old Minnesota, with all that rust — trailed only Michigan, Ohio and California in the number of owners jumping on this program. Strib columnist Jon Tevlin takes a couple light whacks at the program in his column before saying, “Face it, government incentives are a daily occurrence. Politicians give corporations millions of dollars to move from a perfectly fine building in Minneapolis to a new one in St. Paul, or South Dakota, all the while griping about government handouts to the poor. Our own state leaders have railed against stimulus money, but when it comes their way they look down at their hands and grouse: ‘This is all I get?’ ” By “our own state leaders,” we assume Tevlin means Gov. T-Paw.
Lacking any new litigation (today) against Denny Hecker, the somewhat shabbier case of Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan’s mailman brother is the best police/courts blotter item of the day. He was formally charged Tuesday. Mara Gottfried and Ruben Rosario cover it for the PiPress. “Paul Dolan, 53, was arrested July 28 in his postal vehicle near University and Raymond avenues in St. Paul after a hidden camera showed him allegedly smoking and selling drugs, according to two criminal complaints.” Oh, and then there was the reported pot-growing operation back at the house. Chief Dolan was reached for comment. In his words, “lifestyle decisions” prevented the two from being close in recent years. (Selling dope from your Postal Service van? When did we cross over into New Jersey?)
In case you had forgotten that Larry Pogemiller was Senate majority leader of the Minnesota, he reminds you at the get-go in today’s Strib commentary on where to lay out the Central Corridor LRT through the U of M. Pogemiller doesn’t like the Washington Avenue plan. Never mind current ridership levels are highest there. Jabbing Met Council Chairman Peter Bell, who defended his position last week, Pogemiller writes that Bell “continues to offer incomplete solutions, pointing at cost and time constraints as being the ultimate decider of all issues. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the council’s route has been the wrong one all along.” Pogemiller prefers the so-called “northern alignment,” which he says “promises opportunities for growth and development that accompany the presence of a light-rail line. It does not push Washington Avenue’s traffic into adjacent neighborhoods, which avoids the need for extensive mitigation and livability efforts.” And what, Senator, exactly are “livability efforts.”
Dang, Sparky’s dead. Como Zoo’s 31-year-old sea lion, Sparky — actually “Sparky V” — has passed on to the great estuary in the sky. Stribber Chris Havens reports: ” ‘He was eager to please and incredibly patient which allowed us many opportunities we would not have had with a typical male sea lion,’ said senior zookeeper Allison Jungheim.” Old Sparkster was believed to be the second-oldest sea lion in captivity.
With a $3 million boost from stimulus money St. Louis Park will begin clearing up a major traffic snarl by constructing an interchange over Highway 7 at Woodale Avenue, just west of Hwy. 100 (which is a whole other mess, for a whole other year). The Strib’s Laurie Blake explains, “Adding to the already busy traffic scene is the possibility in the next 10 years that the proposed Southwest light-rail line will stop at a station just south of Hwy. 7 on Wooddale.”
Finally, it takes NFL training camp to demonstrate conclusively the primary raison d’etre for modern newspapers. Every able-bodied reporter (and a few not so much) who have ever watched a game have fanned out across camp trying to make stories out of guys smacking tackling dummies. Each day spikes our hopes for Super Bowl victory dances, based on nothing more than a tight spiral often to an unguarded guy in shorts. No particular offense to the PiPress’s Rick Alonzo, but this is what I’m talking about: “After what appeared to be an average performance in the morning session in full pads, Rosenfels seemed to rebound in the afternoon, connecting on several big passes, notably a 45-plus-yard toss to receiver Jaymar Johnson against the first-team defense.” Those, by the way, were “big passes.” Not quite “must win” passes. Or “make or break.” But “big.”