News Day: Homeless in Minneapolis / Reprieve for schools, library / Molotov cocktail sentence / Media gluttons / EFCA / more

Not now, but soon If I can find some time later today, I hope to get to a slightly longer look at the MN tax incidence survey, which shows the increasingly regressive nature of MN taxes, and also write a couple of paragraphs on the difference between the push for a smart power grid and the decidedly dumb proposals for marching massive power lines across seven states. Stay tuned!

End in sight for recount? After seven weeks of trial, mostly devoted to the Coleman side’s case, Al Franken’s lawyers say they will wrap up today, after calling 70+ witnesses. Could the end be in sight? Well, Coleman now gets a chance to grab the stand again and put on rebuttal witnesses, and his lawyers won’t say whether or how long they will go on.

Homeless in Minneapolis Madeleine Baran in the TC Daily Planet serves up an eloquent story of one homeless man’s struggle and a devastating description of over-stuffed and over-stressed homeless shelters.

Media gluttons You know you’re out there – reading every word about the media that you can find. Feast on a trio of stories from MN Independent about the on-going MN House attempts to circumscribe press coverage of House committees, hearings, and individual representatives.

42 months for Molotov cocktails 23-year-old Michigan resident Matthew Bradley DePalma was sentenced to 42 months in prison for building Molotov cocktails that he planned to use to disrupt the RNC, reports David Hanners in the PiPress. Federal sentencing guidelines called for 446-57 months, and the prosecutor asked for 46 months, while the defense attorney asked for 36. DePalms pleaded guilty and apologized for his actions — his case is unrelated to that of two Texans also charged with possession of Molotov cocktails. DePalma said a government informant encouraged him and drove him to get the gasoline he used and helped him to detonate two of the five Molotov cocktails to see if they worked. Because he pleaded guilty, the informant’s name was not disclosed.

Tabloid headlines Lots of news stories that should make tabloid headlines this morning:

A drunken substitute teacher toting a half-pint of vodka fired and taken out of a St. Paul school Tuesday afternoon after a report that he was “acting suspiciously.”

A gunman in Germany opened fire in a high school, killing at least ten people. Another gunman in Alabama killed nine people, including members of his own family and strangers, and then himself.

Build or veto A MN Senate committee approved a $367 million public works bill, reports Bill Salisbury in the PiPress, including projects that Pawlenty vetoed last year. The bill would put hundreds of construction workers on the job quickly, and was endorsed by state economist Tom Stinson, who said labor-intensive repair and renovation projects could help reverse the economy’s downward spiral. More than half the money in the bill would go for repairs to state buildings, including colleges and universities. House members are talking about spending less.

MN Job Watch Public employee unions don’t like T-Paw’s call for a salary freeze, and they especially don’t like his high-profile negotiating through the news media, reports Tim Pugmire on MPR. They say the guv should leave negotiations to individual unions and state and local government bodies, instead of grandstanding. Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) claims that pay freeze would save the state a billion dollars, and wants to change state law to require a pay freeze.

Not quite MN, but close – Toro is laying off 235 people at its Tomah, WI plant.

EFCA, EFCA, EFCA NPR gives a fairly succinct description of EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act:

At the center is the Employee Free Choice Act, which would amend existing labor law. If passed, workers could form a union if the majority of them sign cards requesting one. That would be a change from current law, where employers can require a secret ballot, which takes more time and allows more employer input.

The card-check provision is clearly an important and effective tool for union organizing, as measured by the intensity of passionate opposition to it by business.

WMEP gets reprieve What’s WMEP? Until a few weeks ago, WMEP was a small and relatively obscure voluntary school integration effort that had one suburban and one Minneapolis public school, enrolling a few hundred students. Then the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) decided to pull out, citing lack of success in integration. The Strib summarizes: “The Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource school in Crystal, which serves grades 4-8 and has an arts focus, is 69 percent white. In comparison, the district’s other school, the Interdistrict Downtown School in Minneapolis, is 33 percent white.” Parents, educators and allies poured into a school board meeting to protest the pull-out plan, and now MPS says it will take at least one more year to work with the schools, the Urban League, and other groups to accomplish integration goals, because the two schools are delivering measurably better academic results for the black students who are enrolled there.

And another reprieve in St. Paul With supporters clad in red turning out for meeting after meeting in St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman pulled back from earlier plans to close the century-old Hamline-Midway library, reports Dave Orrick in the PiPress, giving it a reprieve until at least the end of 2009. Library director Melanie Huggins said she did not know how she could hit the 2009 target of $2.1 million in cuts from the city’s library budget without the closing, and it’s clear that the library is still a target.

Heading for elections in El Salvador The leftist FMLN party’s Mauricio Funes seems poised to win the presidency in El Salvador in Sunday’s election, defeating Rodrigo Avila, candidate of the ruling right-wing ARENA party, according to a NACLA election report. The country is burdened with “a faltering economy, entrenched poverty, rampant crime and a population that’s still recovering from a civil war” that ended more than a decade ago, reports NPR’s Jason Beaubien. Funes has worked as an investigative journalist for 20 years, and is running on a platform that includes attacking widespread corruption. Rampant gang violence and extortion has links to law enforcement, according to many in the country.

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