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ST. PAUL - The absentee application was signed "B Weitenbach" and the ballot envelope was signed "William Alan Weitenbach." With that difference - one a full name, the other shorthand for Bill Weitenbach - the Elk River man's vote was excluded from Minnesota's November election. "I suspect that it was because of the signature," Weitenbach concluded during testimony in the U.S. Senate election trial. A voter's signature - and whether it matches on multiple documents - is a significant issue in the trial, with potentially hundreds of previously uncounted ballots at stake.
ST. PAUL -- Al Franken says he is getting in the know, but Norm Coleman says he already knows. Each U.S. Senate candidate says he is poised to be senator, but Franken and Coleman are preparing differently as they await an outcome in their Senate election, now three months overdue. Their attorneys are engaged in a St. Paul trial to determine what disputed ballots should be counted.
ST. PAUL - Attorneys for Norm Coleman and Al Franken each claim one man's testimony boosted their case, but he said the court, not a campaign, was the intended beneficiary. The man in the middle was Jim Gelbmann, the deputy secretary of state who was involved in the Senate recount and was the first major witness in the Senate election trial. Norm Coleman's campaign called Gelbmann, a Woodbury resident, to testify as it tries to convince a three-judge panel to overturn election results showing Al Franken won by 225 votes.
Two Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party lawmakers have introduced a bill to ensure that all children have health insurance. Democrats say they fear today's budget plan by Gov. Tim Pawlenty will chop funding for such programs. "We know that the majority of uninsured children in our state already qualify for public programs," commented Sen. Linda Berglin of Minneapolis. "This bill is designed to remove the barriers that are getting in the way of coverage." The proposal expands the availability of MinnesotaCare for children. MNCare is an insurance program for poor Minnesotans.
Republicans want to require a photo identification card to be shown before a Minnesotan can vote. "The Voter Integrity Act of 2009 will simply serve as one more safeguard to ensuring that every Minnesotans' vote is counted fairly," said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano. "Countless challenges and even the threat of litigation has irrevocably changed the way we as Americans conduct elections.
Wadena Lanes owner Shirley Almer was one of two Minnesotans whose deaths are being linked with a salmonella outbreak affecting 43 states, according to her daughter, Ginger Lorentz of Brainerd, Minn. Almer died Dec. 21 at age 72 in Brainerd. Almer was staying at Bethany Good Samaritan Village in Brainerd, when she became ill and had to be taken to the hospital emergency room where she died, Ginger said. The death was unexpected. "We planned to take her home Monday, she passed away on Sunday," Ginger said. The family is still learning more and more about the situation, she said.
ST. PAUL - Perhaps the "Wedding March" would have been appropriate background music as a Minnesota Senate committee gave its blessing to the state's new transportation commissioner. "This is as good as some marriages get," Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said Thursday before his transportation committee unanimously backed Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. "Communications is better than in some marriages," he added about the relationship between his committee and Sorel. The full Senate is expected to confirm Sorel soon.
Recipe for an anger omelet: Add one-part resentment towards former in-laws, two-parts anger toward former employers, and several cartons of eggs. Simmer. Serve cold at high velocity. A 42-year-old Oak Park Heights woman appeared to have perfected this recipe last month, when she allegedly pelted a small number of Stillwater properties with dozens of eggs over a two-week period. Some properties were hit more than once and the aftermath left Stillwater Police investigators feeling poached. "It didn't necessarily look like kids doing it; it was more like a vengeance thing," said Sgt.
ST. PAUL - Some rural Minnesota school children cannot use certain learning tools, while their classmates can. Small businesses have difficulty competing because they cannot send files electronically. Tourists take a pass on resorts that cannot offer a high-speed link to the working world. Medical clinics see ways to improve care, but cannot provide the services to patients. Those are among problems in areas of Minnesota that either lack high-speed Internet or do not have fast and reliable services, rural officials told U.S. Sen.
The 2009 Minnesota Legislature, which begins at noon Jan. 6, may include a bit of election talk to go along with much discussion of how to solve the state's budget woes. Of course, the state's U.S. Senate race probably will not be decided by the time lawmakers return to St. Paul, so such talk only will be natural. "The 2008 election season brought forward some interesting electoral issues," Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, said. "We will look at possible changes in election law that could make voting easier and more transparent for Minnesota voters.