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A DFL slap? Dayton leads in latest guv poll

ALSO: Arne Carlson is miffed, and so are the Vikings. Plus a Target Field tax windfall.

A new MPR/Humphrey Institute poll puts Mark Dayton (38 percent) in a comfortable lead over Margaret Anderson-Kelliher (28 percent) and Matt Entenza (8 percent) for the DFL gubernatorial nomination. Also surprising is that all three DFLers are in a virtual toss-up with Republican candidate Tom Emmer. Mark Zdechlik’s story quotes — you guessed it, Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey Institute, saying, ” ‘This poll is a real slap in the face to the Democratic Party’ … Jacobs, who heads the Humphrey Institute’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, says it’s not just that Dayton has a big lead over Kelliher among likely DFL primary voters. The poll shows Dayton is considerably more popular than Kelliher with women in the party. ‘The failure of women to rally around Kelliher is one of most surprising findings we have, and it’s not just kind of, by a little bit,’ Jacobs said. ‘It’s a solid 8-point difference between Kelliher and Dayton.’ ” That one will have the smart kids talking.
For what it’s worth, Emmer leads everyone in an unscientific Business Journal poll.

Strib columnist Jon Tevlin is embarrassed by the risk-averse antics of both sides in the recently concluded budget arrangement. The highlight of his piece is tracking down former Gov. Arne Carlson out for a walk in sunny Florida. “Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson was in a surly mood Tuesday despite being on a stroll in Punta Gorda, Fla., when we spoke. ‘It’s cut-and-run financing!’ he bellowed. ‘Cut-and-run! This agreement could have been done in two days! We need different leaders interested in putting the best interest of the state first and political ambition last! We’re getting the reverse!’ I told Carlson I wished he’d speak his mind. ‘The budget is the tool that measures a governor, and we are not getting a passing grade!’ he said. ‘This is the worst mess left behind by any governor in the history of Minnesota!’

You might as well prepare yourself to be bludgeoned with yet another aggressive round of stadium propaganda and, well, threats, for the next seven-and-a-half months.  The Vikings, “disappointed” with being neglected as Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature slid mountains of debt off on next year’s governor and crew, are already making loud noises filled with dire ultimatums. The PiPress story, bylined by John Shipley and Jason Hoppin, quotes a team press release saying, “Having an NFL team in Minnesota requires a stadium solution. This solution must be finalized in the 2011 Session.” Really, “must”? The two write that “[Senate Tax Committee chairman Tom] Bakk said Tuesday that the team’s best shot is to do that informally before approaching the Legislature because the 2011 session will be consumed by budget issues. The next governor would have to present a budget months after being elected and weeks after being sworn in. ‘It’d be very helpful if the Vikings and some governmental unit or units could partner together and come back with a Vikings stadium all gift-wrapped with a bow on it,’ he said.” They also note that the Vikings don’t exactly have any obvious leverage in terms of moving to a better deal anywhere else.

Tom Petters junkies (who may or may not also be Denny Hecker junkies)
will have to check out David Phelps’ Strib story on a panel discussion Tuesday that included attorney Allan Caplan, to whom Petters’ confidant, Deanna Coleman came for advice on her situation, and U.S. attorney John Marti, who was eventually involved in Petters’ prosecution.  “[W]ithin hours of turning on her undercover wire, Coleman had Petters on tape, saying emphatically, ‘This is one big [expletive] fraud.’ ‘We were thinking we had something here,’ Marti said to laughter from the audience of several hundred.” Marti continues, adding: “Many of the victims were wise, sophisticated investors. If you thought you couldn’t be taken by Tom Petters, you were looking at a fool in the mirror.” Uh-huh. And then there were the investors who never lost money on a Petters deal.

By the look of this Caroline Lowe story at WCCO-TV, these junkies may be in for another fix. Lowe reports on the IRS raiding the home and offices of real estate developer Ned Abdul, who owns the Lumber Exchange and the former Whitney Hotel as well as the Epic and Karma nightclubs. Says Lowe, “U.S. Postal Inspector and IRS Agents conducted search warrants at Ned Abdul’s offices at Butler North and his home in Deephaven, Minn. WCCO-TV crews saw agents carrying out boxes of files from Abdul’s Swervo Development Corp. in downtown Minneapolis.”

Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib adds this morning, “Abdul is perhaps best known for redeveloping the former Whitney Hotel into condominiums, and the Wyman office buildings. His holdings also include the Textile Building and Lumber Exchange Building. Last year Swervo Development bought the Northland Corporate Center in Brooklyn Park. Abdul has said he also has holdings outside Minnesota. Abdul eschews the more traditional business attire many Twin Cities developers sport for T-shirts and jeans. He has expensive taste in cars and has been known to stock his office refrigerator with champagne …” If he has a Rolex collection or a life-sized Elvis statue in any of his properties, we’re in for good ride.

There’s a “Law & Order” episode in the story of a Bloomington man’s suicide
after being blackmailed into a $500,000 pay-out to avoid dirty pictures of him with a prostitute going public. The PiPress’ Dave Hanners files the story. “Bloomington police say the scheme unraveled when the extortion target, Daniel Leo Kreye, 57, took his life May 10. The married father of two left a note that read, ‘I am being extorted over $500,000. Best for my family and friends.’ ” He continues, “When Bloomington police Detective Kim Jones-O’Brien went to Kreye’s home to notify his family, the man’s wife told her she had gotten ‘suspicious’ calls earlier in the day from a man who had claimed Kreye had missed a business meeting. A man calling himself ‘Trevor’ also visited the house that day, claiming to have a meeting with Kreye. The widow told the detective the calls and visit were suspicious because ‘there had never been calls placed or visits made to the residence by persons doing business with the victim,’ the detective later wrote in an affidavit.” To that you mix in scheming hookers, an ex-con who may or may not be a pimp, a $200,000 loan from a business partner, and all you need is Jack McCoy putting the pressure on a craven defense attorney.

With all the anti-tax hysteria in the air —
you know, where “gummint” wastes every nickel it steals out of your pocket — Brandt Williams’ MPR story on the ripple effect of those Target Field tax revenues through Hennepin County is a refreshing read. Says Williams, “Ballpark tax money is also paying for Sunday hours downtown and for 13 other county libraries. The ballpark tax has generated a lot more money than the county expected, about $20 million more. So besides extended library hours, the county has been able make prepayments on the debt and it recently awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants for 18 youth sports projects throughout the county. More than $600,000 in grants will fund projects at five Minneapolis parks. Don Siggelkow, general manager of the Minneapolis Park Board, says in some cases the money will be used to turn big, multipurpose fields into more specialized baseball and soccer fields. One park will likely get an artificial surface for soccer.” Damn socialized soccer fields!

A story by Sam Black in the Business Journal has Best Buy finally ready to roll out its Netflix-beater, CinemaNow. “[The service] will give consumers the ability to buy or rent from an extensive library of premium content, including new release movies and TV shows, with no subscription required, Best Buy said. The launch of CinemaNow is designed to give Best Buy consumers a choice in addition to Netflix for streaming service, according to the trade publication Consumer Electronics Daily. The trade magazine also reported that prices for video are likely to drop as the new market for streaming on-demand video expands this year.” Wonderful! Another way to rent the latest JLo rom-com.

The Los Angeles Times blog, “Company Town”, writes, “Best Buy will begin promoting CinemaNow in its stores, including a new “endcap” display in aisles starting next month. In addition to pushing the CinemaNow website, it is forging partnerships to integrate the movie downloading service into electronics devices, starting with Blu-ray players from LG. CinemaNow will ship with Best Buy’s own Insignia-branded Internet-connected devices beginning this year. The retailers faces a number of competitors in digital movie distribution such as Netflix, and Vudu, which was recently acquired by Wal-Mart and will undoubtedly be pushed by the mega-retailer in its own stores and on electronics devices that it sells.”

Road-tripping foodies owe it to themselves to read
Jill Lewis’ survey of area supper clubs over on The Heavy Table website. A sampling: From the Laurel Supper Club over in New Richmond: “[A] dinosaur-sized tray of crudités, pâté, and crackers, remains a staple for the appetizer course, and dishes like the queen- and king-sized prime rib tempt meat-loving diners with their more-than-generous portions and side dishes, which include popovers, salad, soup or tomato juice, bread, and potatoes. We couldn’t resist the 24-oz. steak for two, which also comes with your choice of a bottle of champagne, merlot, or white zinfandel. Perhaps the white zin, a high-school flashback if there ever was one, wasn’t the best choice for the juicy steak, but it provided the kitsch factor that seemed appropriate in an old-fashioned dining room that could have been found at Grandma’s house.” Doesn’t that sound … comforting?

OK, try following this one. The City of Minneapolis is pleased that a judge has ordered a pension fund for retired police officers and firefighters, some of whom died in the line of duty, to start recovering more than $76 million that was paid out. The average check these folks will have to eventually write? $60,000. Steve Brandt of the Strib explains that “the funds overcharged the city by including certain fringe benefits when calculating the pay level on which individual pensions are based. Pensioners already were steamed about that order, which their funds plan to appeal.” Ex-cop and councilman Walt Dziedzic, always a good quote, chimes in, “It’s not over. It’s a shame after all those people gave all they had for the city for all those years. I’ll trade them the two bullet wounds I’ve had in my leg and all the operations I’ve had since, for my health.” Brandt explains that, “The city’s push to force a recalculation of police and fire pensions is part of a larger city strategy of trying to cope with burgeoning costs for its three closed pension funds and keep current on contributions to statewide funds for younger city employees. Its levy for older pension funds is projected to zoom from $15 million this year to $50 million in 2015, consuming large shares of anticipated property tax increases.” Can the City just “unallot” those pension payments?

The Strib’s Rohan Preston writes that The Guthrie is dumping its 30 year-old version of “A Christmas Carol” for a new version. “Guthrie Director Joe Dowling will stage a new “Carol” adapted by British playwright and filmmaker Crispin Whittell (Nov. 19-Dec. 30).” The change was announced along with next season’s slate. Writes Preston, ” ‘The God of Carnage,’ Yasmina Reza’s dark comedy of manners about two sophisticated couples in Brooklyn who meet because their kids tussle on the playground, will play the Guthrie next season, the theater said Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, producer Barry Weissler announced in New York and the Guthrie Theater confirmed that “The Scottsboro Boys,” the last musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, has a future home on Broadway … after playing at the Guthrie July 31-Sept. 25.” A comedy version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” is scheduled, along with “Arms and the Man”, “A Winter’s Tale” and others.

Quentin Skinner’s theater blog, The Dressing Room,  over at City Pages sums up the slate by saying, “While there are no fiery surprises, the Dowling Studio slate will be announced later and tends to be the best bet for encountering the (relatively) unexpected.”