Gov. Pawlenty cuts off (non-existent) ACORN funding

That smell in the air? Roasting ACORN. Gov. Pawlenty, who doesn’t need to be told what a “no lose” issue smells like, has ordered that his state hereby and forthwith cut off all funding to the liberal-leaning organizing group. His decision comes two days after that now notorious video of two conservative activists, dressed up as a hooker and her pimp, punk’d Baltimore and Philadelphia ACORN offices into offering them advice on how to get around tax issues, etc., and two days after national Republicans put the superchargers to one of their favorite targets.

Only one problem, reports the Strib’s Bob Von Sternberg … uh, the state doesn’t give ACORN any dough. Never minding the piddly details, the governor is still pressing ahead with a demand for a “thorough review”. “Thorough,” you say, Guv? As opposed to what other kind of review?

Tad Vezner’s PiPress story on the kerfuffle is a bit more detailed. It includes news that “in Philadelphia, ACORN employees called police on the undercover duo, and also accused the filmmaker of editing video of a California sting to exclude statements that might show ACORN employees’ innocence.”

Then there’s news of Congressman Keith Ellison’s tweet, ratting out Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for cutting out early on a hearing their Financial Services Committee was having on the Community Reinvestment Act. Tweeted Ellison, according to the Strib’s Eric Roper, “Michele Bachmann uses her time at financial services to attack CRA, ACORN, and then promptly walks out when experts begin testimony.” A Bachmann spokesman shoots back, “Maybe Congressman Ellison should worry less about what Congresswoman Bachmann is doing, and more about what the friends he’s defending like ACORN are doing with his constituents’ tax dollars.” And yeah, like, nobody likes you and, like, your shoes are so, like, groaty.

With the kids back in school and spreading germs, Minnesota has been bumped up to the “highest level” for H1N1 “swine flu” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maura Lerner in the Strib writes, “The new cases appear to be similar in severity as the first wave of the pandemic, which began in April, [assistant health comissioner John Linc] Stine said. While most cases are relatively mild, about eight people have been hospitalized in the past week, he said.”

The Strib’s Bill Ward gets a quote from Garrison Keillor saying he may be down to his last couple of years with “A Prairie Home Companion.”  Says Keillor, who this past week suffered a minor stroke:  “I’m 67 years old, and I just had a chastening experience. One does not ignore these things.” He says he’d like the show to continue as mainly a musical variety show, sans the news from Lake Wobegon and Guy Noir. That would be a bit like Beyonce leaving the stage to her backup dancers, wouldn’t it?

Burl Gilyard of Finance and Commerce covers St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at a luncheon meeting with building owners and managers and finds him talking on the topic of a new stadium for the St. Paul Saints, preferably in Lowertown, where the old Gillette building stands. Says Hizzoner, “There is an absolute possibility that it will happen.” Or, put another way, “for certain it might.” Gilyard gets ahold of Tom Whaley, executive director of the Saints, who tells him, “the team is envisioning a $30-$35 million stadium with 7,500 seats. The team has its eye on the vacant Gillette/Diamond Products industrial site in the Lowertown area. But the team does not own the property.” What St. Paul needs is Sid Hartman.

You knew it was way too long between Denny Hecker lawsuits, which at last count had reached 19. Well, make that 21. Two Fargo banks have dropped the hammer on the car dealer, accusing him of “false financial statements”. But don’t worry. The tab on these two suits is a mere $20 million, barely an afternoon’s shopping at the Bellagio for Denny’s girlfriend. The AP provides most coverage for local TV.

The swank Ivy Hotel in downtown Minneapolis
, already in receivership after developers defaulted on $69 million in loans, is going to have the condominium end of its operation brought under control of the same receiver, according to the Minneapolis-St.Paul Business Journal. “An entity related to Turnstone Group, based in Minneapolis, was named receiver of the 96-unit condo building. Turnstone had previously been designated as receiver of the 136-room luxury hotel by the lead lender on the project, Minneapolis-based Dougherty Funding.” So much for the mints on the pillows.

Apparently it really is time to stop expecting a point of view
or anything like an opinion from Strib editorials. Today’s gem, which could have been written by a Chamber of Commerce intern, goes on and on about the tough economic times Minnesota cities are dealing with … as though this was news to anyone reading the Op-Ed pages  … and then, just when you think it was going to suggest a course of action, recommend a particular piece of legislation or demand someone’s head on a pike, it closes by boldly declaring, “Where painful cuts are necessary, Minnesota city officials are working to manage them intelligently.” If money is so tight at the state’s largest news organization, they might save time and cash by blowing off this stuff and running a couple more cartoons.

Good lord, Twinkies, make up your minds. Are you collapsing and packing your bags for an October fishing trip, or actually playing to beat Detroit and get in the playoffs? (Every fan shudders at the thought of an opening round against the Yankees.) But our guys have now won four in a row … again … and are over .500 … again … and closing in the Tigers … again. Nick Blackburn, currently pitching with a full beard, stayed in Wednesday afternoon’s 7-3 win for six innings, and Michael Cuddyer had three hits and three RBIs. Detroit, by the way, is in town all weekend.

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Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/17/2009 - 09:35 am.

    Oh, that Ellison is a sly one.

    By threatening to expand the Community Reinvestment Act he is obviously pointing out that we may have airport security right, but there are still weaknesses that a determined enemy could use to bring the country to it’s knees.


    Because, like, he couldn’t be serious….

  2. Submitted by Robert Owen on 09/17/2009 - 09:57 am.

    When two young conservative expose criminal or fraudulent activity it’s getting punk’d?

    What’s it called when the I-Team or 60 Minutes do it?

  3. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 10:30 am.

    Did anyone read who said the state doesn’t give any funding to ACORN, Kevin Whelan. I will bet my soul he has no idea who funds his branch. ACORN has 75 entities probably more by now. Maybe Brian could find out what entity operates in MN. Then post the 990 so we can see how much of the funding is state supported.

  4. Submitted by dan buechler on 09/17/2009 - 10:50 am.

    Gosh darn it people/editors/writers get off the quick fix sugar highs. I mean that seriously if you want your post to be for thoughtful people who care about Minnesota. Get Steve Perry back on the beat and give a full length interview to Elizabeth Warren a top academic and advisor on the housing/credit problems that many many americans face. Elizabeth Warren. I’ll go have a nutritious lunch now with no sugar and read Atlantic or the Economist. Thank you.

  5. Submitted by matt wells on 09/17/2009 - 10:51 am.

    Never minding the piddly details, the governor is still pressing ahead with a demand for a “thorough review”. “Thorough,” you say, Guv? As opposed to what other kind of review?

    Well, there was the review by URS of the I-35W bridge that Governor Pawlenty’s administration authorized:

    “MnDOT, out of an excessive concern for cost, avoided retrofitting the bridge and failed to allow URS to monitor MnDOT’s May 2007 inspection, the final inspection before the bridge collapsed,” the company said in a filing.

  6. Submitted by Aaron Rothe on 09/17/2009 - 11:00 am.

    Michele Bachmann has to go! Dr. Maureen Reed is running against her and she is the ticket to beating Bachmann. You can learn more about Maureen, and donate, at:

    Bachmann doesn’t even seem to take her role seriously…

  7. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/17/2009 - 11:28 am.

    Oh, the irony in Tim Pawlenty lecturing ACORN about ethics and illegal activity is rich. This is the same Tim Pawlenty who requested a presidential pardon for convicted money launderer/cocaine & gun-runner Frank Vennes Jr. That’s the same Frank Vennes Jr. who, along with his family members, has contributed thousands of dollars to Pawlenty’s political campaigns. The same Frank Vennes Jr. who allegedly funnelled millions of dollars from Christian organizations into Tom Petters’ ponzi scheme–organizations like Minnesota Teen Challenge, a favorite Pawlenty charity.

    Read all about Pawlenty’s unsavory pal here:

    Maybe we need to halt all state funds going to Tim Pawlenty until we have a “thorough review” of his relationship with ex-con Vennes.

  8. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 09/17/2009 - 11:55 am.

    Karl Bremer, thanks!

  9. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 01:21 pm.

    Wow a fifth tape was just released. They actually offered to assist in trafficking girls from Mexico. Hopefully Brian will still defend them in tomorrows glean. Keep cutting through that BS Brian. Hope and Change!

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/17/2009 - 01:31 pm.

    “The same Frank Vennes Jr. who allegedly funnelled [sic] millions of dollars from Christian organizations into Tom Petters’ ponzi [sic] scheme…”

    Eh? Who is alleging that?

    I’ve heard a lot of allegations about the crew of obsessed kooks that dog Rep. Bachmann’s every move, but to my knowledge none of them has been charged, much less proven.

    But maybe it’s OK to just start slinging them out anyway, ’cause it would be fun.

  11. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 01:34 pm.

    House just voted to de-fund ACORN too. I can almost taste Brian’s tears.

  12. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 01:52 pm.

    Ellison and McCollum vote not to de-fund ACORN. Not a huge surprise as they both likely receive large campaign contributions.

  13. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/17/2009 - 02:36 pm.

    Joe Johnson: What is MORE likely is that Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum pay more attention to truth than to alarmist Republican demands for instant punishment. Bless their insistence upon honesty and accuracy. Vote for them.

    Acorn agrees that a few employees committed acts that were illegal and immoral. It has fired those people and is instituting new training and oversite procedures for all employees to prevent any future such acts.

    HOWEVER, Acorn also reports that the phony couple in the videos visited not just a few but a couple dozen Acorn offices. In every office except the videos that were released, the couple was unmasked and kicked out of the office. Where are those videos, I wonder.

    Acorn is also suing the right-wing PR firm that paid for the videography and actors for their crime of filming others without notification.

    The Senate needs to revisit its hasty decision to sign off on a resolution that may be at least 90% in error. This is just another segment of the right-wing effort to harm President Obama and Democrats should recognize that.

  14. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 03:08 pm.

    BV – House and Senate both voted to de-fund. You lost twice, in a landslide. Ellison and McCollum should have fun in 2010. Also the persons responsible for uncovering ACORN are saying they have many more video’s but the new ones are on different topics. Even the Dems won’t be able to race-card themselves out of this.

  15. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/17/2009 - 03:20 pm.

    ACORN has multiple convictions of voter registration fraud under their belt. At least 17 states have ongoing investigations, not including the new ones being opened as we speak.

    Now it is shown, beyond the doubt of all but the most addled partisans, that ACORN employees, across the country, are willing to involve themselves in crimes which include human trafficking of underage girls.

    I can’t wait to hear McCollum and Ellison defend *those* votes.

  16. Submitted by dan buechler on 09/17/2009 - 03:43 pm.

    To be honest much of this will be forgotten until there is another sex scandal just as likely to involve a republican than a democrat. For some perspective:
    ACORN $5,000,000 5 mil. / year
    HaliBurton $2,000,000,000 2 bil. / year
    Wall Street 2,000,000,000,000 2 tril last year and all we got was the worst recession since 1929.

  17. Submitted by Rebecca Hoover on 09/17/2009 - 04:45 pm.

    Wow! Zoom! Zap! Pawlenty dons his armor, mounts his stead, raises his sword and fights an imginary ghost! LOL There is nothing like fighting an evil that does not exist. Pawlenty is no David ready to take on Goliath. Never has been and never will be.

    What’s more, when the Wall Street Bankers and financiers were a sleezy bunch and ran off with billions, they got billions more in government bailouts and even bonuses. When some peons making little more than minimum wage at Acorn weren’t up to snuff, the big politicians throughout the country hypocritically act outraged.

    Pathetic bunch those politicians. I ran into some of them yesterday and they were up to their hand grabbing, back slapping routines.

  18. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/17/2009 - 04:49 pm.

    For the Google-challenged Mr. Swift:

  19. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 05:26 pm.

    Karl – what is your point? Do you have any background in investment management. He wasn’t convicted of any Petters related activity. If finders fees for investors is illegal we should go after Piper, Craig Hallum, and Dain too.

  20. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/17/2009 - 05:51 pm.

    So Karl I just looked at some of your work on the Minnesota Independent, not bad. But did you know that the Minnesota Independent is organized out of Washington DC under the Center for Independent Media, nice play on the name of the web page not very Minnesota or Independent. In 2008 they paid a professional fund raiser 111k for services and the CEO collect a nice 225k from payroll, I do love not-for-profits. They also paid their program director over 100k. In total the Center for Independent Media had 4m in contributions from the public and had 2m on program expenses of which almost 1m was consulting fees. But they did make almost 40k in interest income. Long story short I hope you’re getting paid for your work because it looks like everyone one else is.

  21. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 09/17/2009 - 07:31 pm.

    My point, Joe? I dunno, why don’t you ask the U.S. Attorney’s office. They’re the ones selling off Vennes’ assets–with his cooperation–to repay the victims of his alleged crimes. Or maybe you could ask Michele Bachmann. She gave away $9200 that Vennes and his wife donated to her campaign after he was implicated in the Petters scandal. She also rescinded a letter requesting a presidential pardon for Vennes. All this without him ever being convicted.

    Oh, and since you’re concerned about my well-being, Joe, yes, I did get paid for my stories on Vennes, bachmann, Coleman and Pawlenty.

    But I have a question. Why is it that every time you or Mr. Swift post comments here, you prefer to attack the commenters and never respond to the facts? You always seem to want to make the commenter the issue.

    The issue here, in case you’ve forgotten, is whether Tim Pawlenty’s connections to a convicted money launderer and alleged Ponzi schemer go deeper than he’d like us to know.

  22. Submitted by dan buechler on 09/17/2009 - 07:45 pm.

    I would like to remind our republican armchair patriots (and I also plead guilty of sitting back) of the work that has to be done in Afghanistan. Heroin is bankrolling the Taliban and alQaeda. Afghanistan provides 93% of the world’s opium . Their production has skyrocketed since 2002.
    Unfortunately Bush let things fall apart even more in that part of the world. It is possibly an impossible place to order. He left everything for the next U.S. president to attempt a fix.
    Fortunately, on August 5th 2009 the commander of the Pakistani Taliban was killed. This was the first major breakthrough against northern extremism since 2003. I repeat the first major breakthrough since 2003. This helped lead to the partial ousting of militants in the Swat Valley. 2 million people were able to return to their home regions. 2 million. Although attacks on schools and civilians persist real progress has been made. For those few commentators out there who hate just about everything Obama stands for (or at least from what I can gather from your writing). Pause, take a deep breath, step back and start being appreciative of some good things (subject to interpretation of course) that are being done.

  23. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/17/2009 - 08:57 pm.

    Trolling by trolls Karl its as simple as that. Red herrings and personal attacks are much easier to use and make than to use simple facts and logic in order to make a point.

  24. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/18/2009 - 07:43 am.

    Karl – you need to help me with this one. So the US Attorney’s office is selling of his assets prior to being found guilty of a crime? That sounds like the assets are tainted and in receivership for that reason and not because Vennes was convicted of a crime. The way you word your argument regarding Vennes is that he has been convicted and his asset we taken for that reason, which is incorrect. Another fact that surrounds Vennes and investor development companies like his is that you must be a qualified investor as defined by the SEC to invest in an alternative investment vehicle. So the responsibility of due diligence is squarely on qualified investor. If you have the assets required to become a qualified investor and you don’t obtain significant asset due diligence it is your own fault for making the bad investment.

  25. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/18/2009 - 01:36 pm.

    Thomas: Acorn has ZERO convictions for voter fraud. Fewer than 20 of the 10,000 or more people they hired in 2008 to help register voters made up phony names and completed phony registration forms to turn in to Acorn (which paid them by the piece).

    The guilty employees were fired and the police and election officials notified of their illegalities.

    If there are any convictions, it is these people, not Acorn, who have been charged, tried and found guilty.

    The right wing is so desperate to regain power that it is trying to destroy Acorn to prevent it from helping any more poor people/people of color to become registered voters. The current debacle will also end up with the employees Acorn has already fired and denounced being charged with crimes.

    Where is the outrage at individual bankers who knowingly sold ARM mortgages to people who could not pay the higher rates? And those who falsified applicants’ incomes on loan applications to get them into unaffordable mortgages? Are members of Congress writing resolutions to punish the owners of the banks? Of course not, because the right wing has not decided to shriek about corruption and theft and lawbreaking and demand that Congress “Do Something.”

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