A day without Denny Hecker news is like a day without ... sunshine? Love? Laughter? Jewelry? ... well, you fill in the blanks ... but the guy is still serving up good copy. He was in bankruptcy court yesterday trying to explain the details of his byzantine empire and who owns what. Strangely, for a man once considered some kind of wizard of high finance, Denny sounded a lot like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, i.e. someone who couldn't remember doing anything ... ever.
Dee DePass's story for the Strib gets in both business and soap opery details -- the ex-wife, the girlfriend, the $30,000 dogs and the various houses on the lake compound. DePass writes, "When asked why Hecker put the bulk of his assets under the names of roughly 100 LLCs, Hecker told [the bankruptcy trustee] that a prenuptial agreement he signed had led him to put property in company names instead of his own. Hecker and Tamitha are currently separated, he said. In an interview this week, Tamitha Hecker said she is getting a divorce. Seaver asked for whom Hecker had purchased $48,000 worth of jewelry in March 2008, but Hecker said he did not know. He said it could have been gifts for several people." Uh huh.
Nicole Garrison-Sprenger and Jason Hoppin's story for the PiPress includes the same business info as the Strib's but -- let's be honest here -- it's the "private" stuff that we're all going to be lapping up from here on out, and they include the part where ex-football player Chip Lohmiller and the cops arrive at the $12 million lake compound after some kind of Denny-gets-locked-out-and someone-waves-a-gun episode. They write, "According to the Crow Wing County report, Denny Hecker told police that he had gone out to his garage to get some chicken and found himself locked out of the house. He looked up and saw his wife waving a handgun at him from a second-story window, though Hecker said he did not feel threatened. Hecker also said the children were taunting him from a nearby window by 'showing their middle fingers at him while laughing,' according to the report." If I follow the story right, both the soon-to-be ex-wife and girlfriend were on the scene at the same time. Why bother making it up when you've got stuff this good?
MPR's Tim Pugmire covers Newt Gingrich and Gov. Tim Pawlenty appearing last night at the U of M last night and both panning the health care reform bills presented by House and Senate Democrats. Says Gingrich, "This is a 1975, socialized-medicine model brought up 34 years later. Because the people who wrote it have been in Congress since the early 1970s, and they finally after all these years got enough power they can do what they wanted to do 35 years ago." The short piece doesn't get to what "model" of insurance covers the Gingrich and Pawlenty families.
The long-brewing plan to redevelop the so-called DinkyDome can't seem to get past the conflict with the frat house next door. Burl Gilyard of Finance and Commerce checks in with developer Kelly Doran, who has scaled back his plan to refurbish the "iconic" building at 15th and University in Dinkytown. His third version is now talking about 125 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail. But the frat boys aren't budging. The Planning Commission has given Doran its approval, but the frat house says it's going to appeal.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a report out that says one in three Minnesotans is "an active bird-watcher." This comes via a story in the PiPress that comes via the Duluth News-Tribune. The story explains, "To be counted as a birder, one has to either travel to watch birds or make an active effort to watch and identify birds at home. Going to the zoo, or simply watching birds while doing other activities, doesn't count." Apparently we watch enough birds to be among the top five. (The most? Montana.) But, one out of three? All I watch is the one directly above my parked car.
Paul Demko of The Minnesota Independent scrolls through fund-raising data released by local politicos and notes that 3rd District freshman congressman, Republican Erik Paulsen, raised $350K in the second quarter off the year, giving him $500,000 in the bank as he prepares to defend his turf next year. Paulsen's take was the most of any Minnesota representative.
Food critic Kathie Jenkins of the PiPress has a story about the favorite restaurant tables of local power brokers. The Wall Street Journal has done this bit for a few years. But it's irresistible reading. Typical entry, "socialites Steve and Sheryl Newman must have Table 18, smack in the center of the dining room so they can see and be seen. If they can't have 'their' table, they would rather eat elsewhere." You know you're hopelessly out of touch if you have to ask who the Newmans are.
Other than Denny Hecker ... and Tom Petters, few people are getting as much ink as Brett Favre. The PiPress Favre of the Day Associated Press story (with an assist from staffer Rick Alonzo) has the 39-year-old throwing balls to kids in Mississippi. (Nothing on which shoe he tied first or what he had for lunch.) The story says, "He proved he still has plenty of zip when he tossed a deep pass to a college receiver who dropped by to work out. The pass went through the receiver's hands and hit him in the face. 'He's a senior from Southeastern Louisiana, so I put a little more on it,' Favre said with a smile."
Not to overload on sports, but Patrick Reusse, embodying the value of "institutional memory" (as opposed to his pal Sid), recalls the summer 40 years ago when Billy Martin managed the Twins, drank himself blue (or is it "red"?) across the country, punched out one of his pitchers, got the Twinks into the play-offs and was fired for all the entertainment he brought to town. For fans who believe beat writers routinely ignore the boys-being-boys behavior of sports heroes, Reusse notes that the slugging incident (outside a Detroit bar) "was covered up by Twin Cities sportswriters for a few days."
Also in the PiPress this morning ... a five-paragraph editorial encouraging candidates to make "strong proposals" in next year's gubernatorial campaign. "We need to hear strong proposals across the political spectrum, from left to right and various combinations in between." Here's a thought, what if the daily papers made "strong proposals" and demanded the candidates address them, coherently, or suffer their wrath?
The big new movie of the week is "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," and in case you missed it, the Strib's Colin Covert is largely positive about the latest edition. "Unlike most film series, the Potter movies haven't weakened along the way. The films have done justice to J.K. Rowling's complicated mythology, speaking confidently to the fan base while remaining accessible to the general public. In that, they surpass the 'Star Wars' prequels, the 'Matrix' trilogy or the 'Narnia' films," writes Covert. Covert's crosstown competition, Chris Hewitt of the PiPress, was equally enthusiastic. Personally, we liked "Jerichow." But that's just us.