The “f-word” has surfaced in relation to Denny Hecker. “Fraud,” we mean, of course. A civil — not criminal –suit filed by the U.S. Trustee for Hecker’s bankrupt Advantage Rent A Car no less accuses our favorite high-living, over-extended car dealer with kiting money back and forth between his various subsidiaries. The Strib’s Dee DePass, still on the Hecker beat, writes, “The [suit], filed Tuesday morning, accuses Denny Hecker of engaging in a convoluted money diversion scheme that pumped many payments worth $148 million from his Advantage and Southwest-Tex auto leasing businesses into Hecker’s other leasing businesses. The trustee alleges that Southwest-Tex was basically an unprofitable shell that Advantage billed excessively in exchange for little or nothing in return.”
Then we have the not exactly stunning revelation that national Republicans have raised a lot of money for Norm Coleman’s legal battles. Pat Doyle of the Strib expands on a story posted earlier by Brian Bakst of the AP. “The National Republican Senatorial Committee spent nearly $938,000 in May to help Coleman, with most of it going to pay legal bills to firms in Minneapolis and Washington. The organization’s Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, reported raising more than $282,000 in May contributions earmarked for the recount.” Doyle notes maxed-out contributions from Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and Swift Boat underwriter, Bob Perry of Texas.
The Strib’s Lori Sturdevant reports Common Cause saying nice things about the small donor refund program, that $50 political contribution business that will get “unalloted” under the Pawlenty thresher. She writes: “The idea is to dilute the influence of special interests with the interests of a lot of average Minnesotans, for whom a campaign gift of up to $50 for an individual, or $100 for a couple, functions as a short-term no-interest loan. The refund program costs the state a relatively modest $10.4 million over two years.” We assume she approves of the program. Does her paper? Or would that be too strong and risky a position to take?
MPR’s Tom Weber has a good piece on school districts — and charter schools in particular — scrambling to secure loans, and cut staff to make intererst payments, as a result of Gov. Pawlenty’s 73-27 “shifting” scheme. Minneapolis alone will pay $250,000 in interest to cover its shortfall. But Weber reports a couple of charter schools considering closing since, as they admit, “Because charter schools can’t own property and cannot levy taxes, we’re a really bad loan risk.”
Minnesota’s House Republicans elected 39-year-old Kurt Zellers of suburban Maple Grove as their new minority leader last night, replacing Marty Seifert of Marshall, who is ready to run for governor. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes, “A fiscal and social conservative, [Zellers] has been a leading proponent of scrapping the state’s corporate income tax and taking other steps to make Minnesota more attractive for business.”
A “talker” item: The U’s decision to either ban liquor sales at the new football stadium (and all other sports venues) or allow booze throughout will come down at a Regents meeting today … oh, along with some pretty severe budget cutting/job-paring. Bob Von Sternberg has details for the Strib.
The long vacant Shubert Theater on Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis has made Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s list of “most dubious” stimulus projects, reports Brian Johnson of Finance and Commerce. Johnson writes, “According to the Coburn document, the Shubert won “millions over bigger job producers. The Minneapolis City Council has chosen to give $2 million to the Schubert [sic] Theater, making it the city’s largest recipient” of discretionary stimulus spending.” Considering Coburn’s, uh, retrograde thinking on so many other issues, there might be a reverse barometer effect at play here.
Ex-PiPresser Scott Carlson, now with Finance and Commerce, reports on the sudden resurgence of deli restaurants in the Twin Cities, with Jason’s Deli in a new building near the Eden Prairie Center planning as many as 10 stores in the metro not long after Mort’s Deli opened in Golden Valley. Carlson notes that, “the restaurant chain’s biggest push to differentiate itself from competitors is its growing emphasis on fresh, healthy food. Food on the Jason’s menu is free of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and MSG — and those omissions are drawing attention for the company.”
You know your iPod needs serious, uh, “updating” … as in flushing out all that Fleetwood Mac and building in something — anything — recorded since the turn of the century. City Pages’s Jen Boyles offers one of those handy lists of what the kids are listening to with a run-down of iPod favorites from the CP staff. I have no idea who or what Bat for Lashes is, but I worry that I might be able to have a music conversation with theater critic Quentin Skinner.
The all-but-official big Wolves trade with the Washington Wizards creates juicy draft-talk fodder what with the team now holding both the No. 5 and 6 selections. Jerry Zgoda of the Strib says new Wolves GM David Kahn is gunning for flashy point guard Ricky Rubio to team with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. In this morning’s update, Zgoda concludes by saying, “A franchise that has barely registered a pulse since July 31, 2007 — the day McHale traded away Garnett to Boston in the league’s biggest deal for a single player — now is guaranteed a prominent seat at the proverbial table after NBA Commissioner David Stern steps forth Thursday and announces the Los Angeles Clippers have made Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin the first player taken.” Ask yourself, how many total minutes of Wolves games did you listen to last winter?