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Cars in the news: Hecker’s Chapter 7, expensive freeway signs, road closures

Also, Power Line praise for Obama? And speculation on Norm’s future

Stribbers Dee DePass and Neal St. Anthony file a report on car dealer/wheeler dealer Denny Hecker’s slide into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They say Hecker’s debts have ballooned to nearly $1 billion. “In the sparsely worded court filing, Hecker claims assets of between $50 million and $100 million and said he owed 200 to 1,000 creditors up to $1 billion. Some of those creditors include former employees of his dealerships, who were still owed paychecks when they lost their jobs. Hecker said he feels bad that he was unable to pay employees and creditors, but his bank accounts have been frozen by court order since January. “I’m not sure we can ever make it right,” he said. DePass and St. Anthony also have Hecker saying he may move his family out of their $6.7 million Wayzata home and into their $12 million Brainerd lake home. How would Vanity Fair handle this guy?

John Welbes files a much shorter Hecker piece in the PiPress. He quotes Hecker from a prepared statement saying, “I want to thank all my employees and customers for all their support through these hard times. For me, this is not the last chapter, it is part of life and turning the page.”

Eric Kleefeld, who did yeoman’s work covering the Coleman-Franken recount for Talking Points Memo, files a piece with Larry Jacobs and other usual suspects musing over whether Coleman has a political future anymore. He has Jacobs calling Coleman a front-runner for Pawlenty’s job, but warning “”Coleman is facing the prospect of widespread and harsh condemnation if the Supreme Court comes back decisively in Franken’s favor.”

Jim Foti of the Strib answers a couple of the questions about that plan for new freeway signs directing people to the two airport terminals. The main question of course is, How in hell does this cost $1 million? Writes Foti, “The reality is that big freeway signs are big-ticket items. A sign with one support post can cost $30,000, while a full over-the-roadway structure with multiple signs might cost $100,000. Many of the new signs will go on existing supports, but 12 new supports will be built.”

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Bill Salisbury of the PiPress notes that the state’s $2.7 billion deficit is official what with a letter saying so from Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson to Gov. Pawlenty. This means “unallotting” will begin soon after July 1 … and lawsuits will start flying July 2.

If pigs are flying this morning, it may have something to do with Paul Hinderaker’s thoughtful analysis of President Obama’s big speech in Cairo Thursday. That’s right, Hinderaker of Power Line. At one point he writes, “The historical analogies Obama posits are imperfect, but this is pretty good stuff. It’s a bit jarring to hear talk of Hamas playing a role, but Obama’s conditions for them to do so are reasonable in theory.” Anything less than total condemnation from Hinderaker probably means lefties will have to re-think their approval of the speech.

Are you kidding me? A known sex offender is not only an apartment complex manager — you know, the guy with the keys — but now has been arrested for taking pornographic pictures of kids … he baby-sat at the complex in the Brooklyn Center. Fox9’s Tom Lyden is on the scene.

Likewise, WCCO’s Bridgette Bornstein reports. Oddly, KSTP and KARE run only web copy. People, we’re talking perverts! Viewers love perverts. Fire up the choppers!

MPR’s Elizabeth Baier files a report on this weekend’s road closures, including I-94 eastbound shutdown around the Mississippi River bridge for painting chores. Hmmm, Minneapolis cut off from St. Paul? To paraphrase the British view, “Continent cut off from England.”

Friday means new movies and the Strib has Rob Nelson covering “The Hangover”, a movie about a bachelor party gone wrong in Vegas. Nelson sees something deeper than men being boys being stupid. “Downward mobility is what [Todd] Phillips’ movie is all about,” writes Nelson. “If the far funnier ‘Road Trip’ and ‘Old School’ were goofy daydreams of liberation, ‘The Hangover’ is a fantasy of victimization, its manchildren getting bashed, drugged and otherwise humiliated, not often hilariously.”

The PiPress’s Chris Hewitt seems to have enjoyed the guilty pleasure but feels obligated to niggle. He says, “I think I laughed out loud at ‘The Hangover’ as many times as I have at any movie this year, so why is it not entirely unsatisfying?” Boys, no one is expecting “Rules of the Game” here.