Tag Archives: recount

News Day: Doing the recount math / Autism in Somali kids / Secret U.S. assassination squads / High school sports money / more

If you’re reading this … then the mega-worm has not killed the internet yet.

Doing the math Let’s see — if Al Franken leads by about 225 votes, and the court has ordered another 400 ballots opened and counted, where does that leave Norm Coleman? Probably beating the bushes for money to finance endless appeals. To outpoll Franken, The Norm would have to win more than 300 of the 400 ballots, which seems highly unlikely. Counting day — April 7.
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News Day: Coleman cyber-follies / Middle class pays more /Snowing the recount / Somali youth / Cops hate Sara Jane / more

Middle class pays more Even in Minnesota, says a Department of Revenue study, rich people pay less in taxes than the middle class. See Who pays Minnesota’s taxes>

Coleman cyber-follies While Norm Coleman is calling it “chilling” and “scary,” a closer look shows that the disclosure of names and credit card information of Coleman campaign donors on the internet is the fault of no one but … the Coleman campaign, which violated basic on-line security procedures. Continue reading

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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.
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News Day: 89 ballots / Unfree press in MN House / Around the world in 90 seconds / Out with the old regime / more

Is Coleman toast yet? The Daily Kos jumps the gun, declaring “Coleman is toast,” but it’s true that the latest court ruling holds no good news for the Norm. After the inner ballot envelopes were opened in a search for registration cards, only 89 of the roughly 1500 rejected absentee ballots in pile 3a proved possibly countable. In MinnPost, Jay Weiner reports that “Coleman’s universe of legally cast ballots that his side wants opened may now be as low as 1,000, if not lower.”
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News Day: Feds rescue MN budget deficit

March 3: More news — Coleman asks for new election / Cut, cut, cut / Medicare paying off insurance companies / City Council putting brakes on Central Corridor plans? / Lock ’em up / MN Job Watch

MN budget deficit: better news MPR reports that the budget projections due out later this morning will show good news for Minnesotans, with federal stimulus money riding to the rescue. Without the federal aid, the two-year deficit was projected to grow to $6.4 billion, but with the aid, it will shrink to $4.57 billion (from the previously-projected $4.8 billion.) That’s about the only good news, with unemployment up, tax revenues down, and the Guv stlll insisting on balancing the budget by slashing LGA and other state expenditures and refusing to consider tax increases.
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News Day: It’s the economy (and the budget deficit and the CitiGroup and AIG bailouts)

More March 2 stories: The weather! / Facebook and Lent / Recount / Scam alert / Momos and pizza / Head scarves and gangbangers? / Some good news! / Welfare freeze / Miss North Dakota arrested in Iran

Stormy weather ahead Billions in bad news is expected when State economist Tom Stinson issues the next state budget forecast on Tuesday, writes Bill Salisbury in the PiPress. In December, Stinson forecast the $4.85 billion deficit that has had everybody from the capitol to city hall scrambling to slash budgets, and the betting is that the new prediction will be $6 or $7 billion.
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News Day 2/23/09: Oscar-free zone / Stormin’ Norm / Bonding basics and blunders / World news and more

T-Paw playing fast and loose with bonding rules In theory, MN can’t borrow to pay for current spending. The tobacco bond borrowing is an end run around that prohibition, based on a fiction that the state is just borrowing against future tobacco settlement revenues. In fact, explains Steve Perry in MinnPost, other states have already found that tobacco bonds don’t sell well, and MN is marketing the bonds as general obligation bonds. The Department of Revenue says that $987 million in bonds now will cost $1.6 billion in payback.

Your chance this week! The St. Cloud Times reported on the first town hall forum on the state’s budget woes, with more than 250 people mostly agreeing on one part of a solution: “Raise taxes. Cutting the budget and services is not the best way to solve the problem.” Hearings started Thursday in Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud, and continue across the state this week, including metro-area meetings.

Last-minute RNC lawsuits As the deadline for filing civil claims related to the RNC expires this week, expect more lawsuits. In an RNC-related suit last week, Betsy Raasch-Gilman charged that Sheriff Bob Fletcher failed to provide “all private and public data” on her. The State Department of Administration had already issued an advisory opinion that Big Bob failed to comply with state law, reports Randy Furst in the Strib.

And on Friday, St. Paul city attorney John Choi announced that no charges will be filed against 323 people arrested on the final day of the convention, but that 20 arrests are still being investigated.

Sinking Strib ship A bankruptcy filing says that Strib gross earnings plummeted by almost one-third in two years, down to $203 million in 2009 from the $303 million earned in 2007. The Strib survival plan, reports Braublog includes a demand that pressmen take a 23-50% pay cut, chopping $6-12 an hour from wage rates.

Secret meetings on health care reform According to the NYT:

Since last fall, many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly in a Senate hearing room. Now, with the blessing of the Senate’s leading proponent of universal health insurance, Edward M. Kennedy, they appear to be inching toward a consensus that could reshape the debate.

Unfortunately for single-payer advocates, the NYT predicts this will mean “a requirement that every American carry insurance.” And Republicans, predictably, are not participating in the talks, though business is on board.

Around the world in 90 seconds In Mexico, the Juarez police chief quit, reports BBC. The border city, torn by drug war violence, saw a police officer and a prison guard killed just before Roberto Orduna quit. Gangs had issued a notice that they would kill a cop every day unless Orduna quit, and he said this was the only way he could safeguard police lives. Orduna took over in May after his predecessor fled to Texas following death threats.

In Afghanistan, , a tribal militia of “men and boys, armed with old riffle and true grit” in southeastern Paktia province is protecting people against Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The government and the U.S. plan a “Public Protection Force” to provide “community defence initiatives,” but insist it is different from the militias. In Pakistan, reveals the NYT, U.S. Green Berets are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops in a now-no-longer-secret task force.

Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel planes bombed the capital, reports the NYT. Though this is the first air attack on the capital, the last six weeks “have seen a surge in civilian casualties, with up to 2,000 killed and 5,000 wounded as the government attempts to rout the rebels.”

In Somali, Islamist insurgent suicide bombers killed 11 African Union peacekeepers at an AU military base in Mogadishu, reports the BBC. The al-Shabab group said its members carried out the attack, as part of its continuing armed struggle against peacekeepers.

Corn vs. clean cars You might think that corn growers and ethanol producers would like legislation requiring lower emissions. Not so, reports Ron Way in MinnPost. The Corn Growers Association opposes clean car legislation, claiming that 18 flex-fuel and biodiesel cars and trucks are banned in California because of the clean car law. But wait — Rep. Andy Welti, DFL-Plainview, called CA car dealers and discovered that “the vehicles that the Corn Growers said are not available were in fact available and being sold.” When confronted by this information in the committee meeting, the Corn Growers lobbyist … had nothing to say.

Stormin’ Norm Since he continues to lose every battle in court, Norm Coleman now wants to recount ALL absentee ballots — that’s right, all 290,000 votes cast, not just those that were rejected, reports Jason Hoppin in the PiPress But wait — the PiPress editorial page goes even further, calling for the election to be thrown out entirely, and a new election held. That’s just what we need to do — hold a clean election, and throw out the results. Politico reports that the Republican National Committee has sent Norm a quarter of a million to pay legal fees in the recount battles.

Save northern MN land, string powerlines across south? As the DNR proposes using the dedicated sales tax funds to protect 187,000 acres of forest and wetlands in north-central MN through the Upper Mississippi Forest Project, private developers propose stringing hundreds of miles of intrusive high-power transmission lines across the rest of the state. More on this tomorrow.

Let’s make people miserable and lose money, too! A successful Anoka county program for meth-addicted moms is targeted by state budget-cutters, reports Brady Gervais in the PiPress. Not only would this particularly short-sighted and mean-spirited budget cut eliminate a successful program that helps addicted mothers kick the habit, find jobs and learn parenting skills — it would also lose money in the long run. Gervais writes that, “By reducing the need for social assistance and child protection services, the program is estimated to save between $8,400 and $16,800 per participant, according to a recent study by Wilder Research.”

Million Dollar Mile Oops, make that $9.2 million — for a one mile bike path in downtown Minneapolis. The Strib’s Pam Louwagie blows the whistle.

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News Day 2/17/09: Never-ending recount / Zombie banks / Battered by spouse? Get out of town / More …

Never-ending recount The judges ruled Friday on which sets of absentee ballots would be considered (not counted, just considered for counting), and Coleman’s lawyers struck back Monday, asking them to reverse their ruling, reports Jay Weiner in MinnPost. Weiner sees the move as preparation for an appeal after the judges’ “final” decision on who won … and there’s still no word on when that decision will come. Trial, and posturing, continue today.

Zombie banks “A zombie bank drains bailout capital but doesn’t respond with any meaningful lending,” reports MPR’s Chris Arnold. When the government props up a zombie bank, it’s not lending but it won’t die. Andy Kessler, a former hedge fund manager, says zombie banks “eat the fabric of the economy,” and warns: “I’ve watched every single one of those zombie movies and everybody knows you can’t cure zombie-ism … you gotta shoot ’em, you gotta get rid of ’em, cut their heads off, put the silver bullet through their hearts–and get some healthy banks.” As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner proposes a complicated package of private investments and public loans to buy toxic assets from banks, the zombie bank explanation sounds a timely warning. Arnold and his guests discuss solutions such as wiping out the zombie banks, and then creating new healthy banks with taxpayers as the shareholders or taking over troubled home loans and giving them to smaller community banks to restructure.

Get on the bus and get out of town Finally find a way to escape that abusive spouse and get your children to safety? Now Twin Cities victims may be given tickets to ride the old grey dog to Bemidj, Brainerd, or Albert Lea, because metro-area shelters are out of room, reports Joy Powell in the Strib. With little affordable housing, shelters and safe houses have seen average stays go from 20 days in 2005 to 37 days in 2008, and there’s just no more room in either shelters or public housing. The recession has brought more violence at home. The statewide domestic abuse crisis line has seen calls rise from an average of 500 a month in 2006 to 900 a month now. Many victims remain in dangerous situations because there is just nowhere to go.

MN Job Watch The stimulus package will increase unemployment benefits by $25 per month, across the board, as well as extending the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) through December. A federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program extended benefits by 13 weeks in July, and by an additional 20 weeks in November. The 20-week extension was due to expire in March, but will now run through December.

The MN Green Jobs Task Force wants a new Green Enterprise Authority to coordinate state agency efforts to attract new green-collar jobs, reports Tim Pugmire on MPR. The task force also wants tax incentives and bonding for renewable energy projects.

Stimulus and MN deficit MN Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson said that MN will get up to $2.8 billion to bolster the state’s general fund, paykng for health care, education and state stabilization aid, reports Tim Pugmire for MPR. The money may make up some of the increase in the state budget deficit, which is expected to grow from the current $4.8 billion to as much as $7 billion when the next state economic forecast comes out on March 3. The federal money comes with strings attached. T-Paw will have to restore proposed cuts in health care programs and might have to give up an accounting shift for education funds.

But that still leaves most of the MN budget carnage in place. Sheila Regan writes in the TC Daily Planet about the impact of the T-Paw proposal to basically dismantle the Perpich arts high school and arts education center.

Could be worse? Kansas is suspending income tax refunds, reports AP, and may miss this Friday’s payroll for 42,000 state employees, as the legislature and governor fight over the state deficit. And in California, reports BBC, Gov. Arnie Schwarzenegger ordered layoff notices for 20,000 state workers after CA legislators failed to approve a $40 billion budget. This on top of two-day-a-month unpaid furloughs already in place for state workers and delayed tax refunds for everybody.

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News Day – February 9: Stimulus and sabotage; Fletcher’s cops go to jail; St. Paul pays protester; Milking the consumer, screwing the farmer; Holocaust-denying bishop in MN; and more

Stimulus and sabotage If you want to understand the depths of the country’s economic trouble, and what to begin doing about it, Nobel Prize-winning economist Pau Krugman is must reading. He has a regular column and a blog at the New York Times. You can subscribe to either or both through a variety of RSS feeds. A sample from last Friday’s really scary column:

It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world. …

Would the Obama economic plan, if enacted, ensure that America won’t have its own lost decade? Not necessarily: a number of economists, myself included, think the plan falls short and should be substantially bigger. But the Obama plan would certainly improve our odds. And that’s why the efforts of Republicans to make the plan smaller and less effective — to turn it into little more than another round of Bush-style tax cuts — are so destructive.

It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.

As you think about Republicans’ attempts to sabotage the economic stimulus package, remember how well they did with with the bank bailout, per the AP report published in the Strib

The Bush administration overpaid tens of billions of dollars for stocks and other assets in its massive bailout last year of Wall Street banks and financial institutions, a new study by a government watchdog says.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, in a report released Friday, said last year’s overpayments amounted to a taxpayer-financed $78 billion subsidy of the firms.

There’s much more, if you can bear to read it. (Or you can read the official report.)

More wrong answers in MN T-Paw’s broadband committee decided that MN should not use stimulus money for ready-to-go broadband projects in MN. Steve Alexander writes in the Strib that the Pawlenty’s Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force’s rejection of the funds came after Comcast and other private providers objected.

The list of ready-to-go broadband projects in Minnesota included a $27.5 million municipal broadband system in Monticello, a $5.4 million Minnesota Department of Health plan to expand rural health care, and a $2,500 project to extend high-speed Internet service to a library in Worthington. Other projects included a $19.6 million plan to provide high-speed Internet to 11 Minnesota communities, including Cannon Falls, Zumbrota and Lake City, and an $18.5 million Internet-TV-telephone system in North St. Paul.

And in another area, Met Council chief Peter Bell says he wants to use stimulus money to pay off the operating deficit, rather than to expand metro transit. MPR reports:

Bell’s suggestion for how the money could be used for something it isn’t intended for, illustrates a dilemma facing stimulus supporters — that money will be moved from account to account to keep everything legal, but in the end nothing gets done that wasn’t going to get done anyway.

Milking the consumer, screwing the farmer MPR forwards a brief report from the West Central Tribune about plunging milk prices, which fell from about $20 a hundredweight last fall to half that now. Farmers are losing money — nothing new there — and consumers haven’t even noticed. I’ve been working on an article on the food industry recently, so I can offer a little more detail.

The farmer sees very little of the consumer food dollar — about 17 cents for the wheat in a loaf of bread or ten cents for the corn in a box of corn flakes. All the rest goes to processing, marketing, advertising, and everyone else’s profits.

Milk provides the most dramatic example. There are approximately 12 gallons in a hundredweight of milk. (Farmers get paid by the hundredweight, consumers pay by the gallon.) At the tip top of the farm price cycle, the farmer got $1.71 per gallon of milk. That same gallon of milk cost $3.80 in the supermarket. The farmer’s price for milk at the beginning of 2009 had dropped to about 92 cents per gallon. The price in the supermarket? Still over $3.80.

Quote of the day Remember that Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop, who also thinks that “Judeo-Masonry brought about the first two world wars”? Turns out he headed up a seminary in Winona, and lived there from 1988-2003, according to a long and interesting article in the Winona Daily News. But the quote of the day, from a September 2001 letter written by Bishop Richard Williamson, came to me last week, courtesy of my web-surfing partner:

…[A]lmost no girl should go to any university! The deep-down reason is the same as for the wrongness of women’s trousers: the unwomaning of woman… [S]ince she is not respected and loved for being a woman, she tries to make herself a man. Since modem man does not want her to do what God meant her to do, namely to have children, she takes her revenge by invading all kinds of things that man is meant to do..…[O]nly in modern times have women dreamt of going to university, but the idea has now become so normal that even Catholics… may have difficulty in seeing the problem. […A]ny Catholic…recognizes that women should not be priests – can he deny that if few women went to university, almost none would wish to be priests? Alas, women going to university is part of the whole massive onslaught on God’s Nature [of] our times. That girls should not be in universities flows from the nature of universities and…girls.

(You read it here, and you might have trouble finding it elsewhere – the bishop or his Society of St. Pius X have removed his papers from the web.)

MN Job Watch As PiPress union employees reluctantly voted to accept management’s proposal for a one-week unpaid furlough between now and April 30, Strib employees got minimal good news, reports David Brauer in MinnPost. A bankruptcy judge reversed the Strib’s earlier position, and said that the newspaper must pay 43 workers who accepted buyouts between April and September 2008 the full amount of their buyout contracts. The Strib had asked the court for permission to make the payouts. On the other hand, Strib publisher Chris Harte warned that revenue continues to slide, and axed many benefits for non-union employees while asking union employees to accept a double-digit pay cut.

In Owatonna, SPX is laying off 100 workers, about 14% of its workforce. The cuts are part of 400 layoffs nationwide for the NC-based company, which makes tools, shop equipment and automotive components.

The Recount grinds on On MinnPost, Jay Weiner captures the mind-numbing tedium of the recount trial, without losing sight of the weight of the decisions being made. Is an end in sight? No.

We, the People “The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?” That’s just one of the questions on the new on-line citizenship study guide being piloted by the Minnesota Literacy Council. Katherine Glover writes in MinnPost that the new citizenship self-study materials are part of a larger project called Learner Web, which is developing programs includeing GED prep, computer skills and family literacy for eventual release to the public in the form of open source software. The MLC decided to go with citizenship prep software because of “Teacher Ron,” Ron Mazurowski, who has been teaching citizenship for more than 10 years and helped to put together the material. Check out the materials on-line.

St. Paul pays protester The city will pay $5,000 to anti-war activist Mick Kelly, who sued the city after he was arrested while passing out leaflets outside a Barack Obama rally at the Xcel Energy Center in June. The leaflets promoted RNC protests, and Kelly was later shot by police with a non-lethal weapon during the RNC. Kelly plans a second lawsuit over that incident. City Attorney John Choi emphasized that the settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing by the city, reported Laura Yuen on MPR.

Ramsey County Sheriff’s employees sent to jail Two employees caught taking money in an FBI corruption sting were sentenced to nearly three years in prison on Friday, reports David Hanners in the PiPress. The two were close friends and confidants of Sheriff Bob Fletcher. Their attorney continued to insist that the two had only taken the $6,000 as a joke, writes James Walsh in the Strib, but U.S. District Judge Patrtick Schiltz “told the men that their actions were no laughing matter, but a violation of the public trust.” Fletcher declined to comment.

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News Day – January 13

Crime decreasing … for now Looking at FBI figures, the the PiPress reports that crime in St. Paul rose slightly during the first six months of the year, compared to 2007. “Slightly” means 0.2% or ten more crimes than in 2007. St. Paul police say that the crime figures showed a decline by the end of 2008. In Minneapolis, the Strib reported that crime fell during the first six months of 2008. Nationwide, violent crime fell by 3.5% and property crime by 2.5%. Final crime stats for the entire year will be available in the fall.

But can it last? Though crime stats show decreases, city governments across the state face major budget cuts. MPR interviewed Wadena Mayor Wolden:

Wolden said cities are struggling with Gov. Pawlenty’s admonition not to cut budgets for public safety.

“We understand that. We’re not dumb. We know that people want to dial 911 and have somebody show up at their door in 60 seconds, 24/7/365. It’s what we do. That’s why they pay taxes,” Wolden said. “We are going to try to hold them as harmless as possible. But this is forcing our hand. This may have to be the cut.”

Liberians need a pathway to permanent residence. Once again, Liberians lawfully in the United States under a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) face forced departure as the latest extension of TPS expires in on March 31. TPS was first granted in 1991, and extended year to year until 2007, when President Bush changed the status to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Liberians who fled war and persecution, have lived here for more than a decade, starting businesses, buying homes, and raising families. Each family has its own story. MPR tells one of the stories:

The possibility of deportation would pose an immediate dilemma for Kirkpatrick Weah. He has two young American-born sons who both need special education. He’d have to decide whether to take them with him to Liberia, where the schools may not offer the programs that can help them succeed, or whether to leave them in the U.S.

Minnesota is home to about 25,000 Liberians, one of the largest populations in the United States, and many live under the threat of departure on March 31.

MN Job Watch: Hutchinson Technology, which had announced layoffs of 1100 just a month ago, increased the number to 1380, according to the Strib. The new plan calls for cutting 950 jobs in Hutchinson (pop. 13,929) and 50 in Plymouth. According to the Strib:

They are not alone. Many manufacturers are swinging the employment axe as the grip on the economy tightens. Manufacturers scrubbed 600,000 jobs and shut dozens of plants last year. In Minnesota, 3M, Andersen, Select Comfort, Pentair, Imation and other manufacturers cut 8,500 jobs in just 10 weeks. Hundreds more are coming as retailers Best Buy, Linens and Things and now Cost Plus World Market shut stores and trim corporate staff.

California-based Seagate Technology announced cuts of 800 jobs in the United States. The company employs 53,000 worldwide, about 8,000 in the United States, and about 3,300 in Bloomington and Shakopee, according to the Strib.

Ford is offering buyouts in St. Paul. “About 240 of the 771 union members working at the St. Paul Ford plant are eligible for the buyouts, said Roger Terveen, president of UAW Local 879” in the PiPress. The buyouts would take effect in January. The last round was in 2006.

Gubernatorial tease Both T-Paw and Wisconsin Guv Jim Doyle say they’ll make a major announcement of a joint initiative on Tuesday at 11 a.m., and neither is telling what it will be, AP says, except that it involves efficiency and spending cuts.

Immigrant struggles MPR reports on the struggles of immigrants, many of whom had professional degrees and practices in their home countries, to make a new life in Minnesota. For Damaris Perez-Ramirez, that meant leaving her PhD in psychology and 12-year psychology practice and starting over.

Starting from scratch meant cleaning houses, working as a translator and coordinating parenting classes for Latinos in the Twin Cities. These weren’t exactly the kind of jobs she had in mind when she arrived in Minnesota in 2001. …

A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute shows that, nationally, more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants are either unemployed or working in jobs such as dishwashers, taxi drivers or housecleaners.

Gaza war update Yesterday the Israeli government banned Arab political parties inside Israel, and even TPM confessed to not being sure what to say or think about the decision, which may well be overturned by the Israeli courts. As casualty figures, with the death toll nearing 1,000 and the number of injured topping 4,000, Bill Moyers presented a searing indictment of the Israeli war (“Brute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism”), and Naomi Klein urged a boycott of Israel. Israel warned (promised?) continuing escalation.

And the recount saga goes on … Yesterday, MN Supreme Court Justice Alan Page appointed the three judges who will hear the Coleman lawsuits in the election/recount battle. MPR reports:

They are:
• Elizabeth Hayden of Stearns County who was appointed by DFL Governor Rudy Perpich in 1986;
• Kurt Marben of Thief River Falls who was appointed by Independent Jesse Ventura in 2000, and
• Denise Reilly of Hennepin County who was appointed by Republican Arne Carlson in 1997.

Franken also asked that the Guv and SoS issue him a certificate of election yesterday — both declined, pointing out that the law requires them to wait until after the court decides on all legal challenges.

Popular public schools Choosing a school is a mind-boggling process for parents of kindergartners. Last weekend, TC Daily Planet visited the school choice fairs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and talked to parents.

Parents at both fairs moved aggressively from booth to booth, peppering parent volunteers and administrators with questions. Many were so intent on their search that I found it hard to stop them for an interview.

“It’s definitely overwhelming,” said Caralin Dees of St Paul, who was looking for a kindergarten for her four-year-old daughter with her husband Matt. The couple said they hadn’t done much research before the fair. “We’re looking for an elementary with a math-science focus…but really, how much do we want to limit her. I mean, she’s only four!”

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