You know that line in the fine print of your credit card contract? For most us, it is 67 lines down on the 10th page of the really small print. The one that says the bank “reserves the right” to raise your monthly interest “for any time and for any reason”? Well, there’s nothing like new looming regulations to make “any time” right now. On Nov. 30, heavily leveraged Wells Fargo will jack up rates 3 percentage points on “the vast majority” of its customers. Chris Serres of the Strib files and dutifully records flak-speak from a Wells Fargo spokesman, “based on the fact that the economy is not improving and due to continued rising costs, we really believed we needed to make this change to continue offering credit to as many people as possible.” (They’re only doing it for us, you see. Their own debt and “shareholder value” haven’t even crossed their minds.)
Serres and reports from the likes of Bloomberg note that the “any time” significance of Nov. 30 is that Rep. Barney Frank and other congressional financial overseers have grown so annoyed with banks goosing rates prior to February 2010, the original date for commencing reform regulation, they may well move that date to Dec. 1. Oh, and with all that carefully parsed fine print in mind, covering every imaginable twist and tweak related to what you will pay and be penalized, Serres notes in closing, “Wells Fargo made $923 million in card fees in the quarter ended June 30, a figure that includes revenue from its debit cards. The bank does not provide detailed financial statements for its credit card division.” Of course it doesn’t. What would the “value” in that be?
Michele Bachmann scored a little CNN time Tuesday, with a stop on Larry King’s show, where she announced that while she herself isn’t a “birther” and had “no reason to doubt [President Obama] wasn’t born in the United States” she is annoyed however that “The only place that this issue comes up is on the left. You don’t hear people on the right bringing this issue up. Honest — yeah, honest. Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo keeps close tabs on her.
Hey, Denny’s back, big time! While the feds comb through his business records and the press savors the juicy personal/expensive girlfriend details, Denny Hecker still has to put up with impertinent questions from the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee and complaints from his estranged wife, Tamitha, that he isn’t giving her any sugar. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson has the latter story full of delicious references to her struggles to keep the indoor and outdoor pools at their/her 26,000-square-foot home open this summer. “Tamitha Hecker’s affidavit in the divorce case notes that Hecker has “continued to maintain a very high standard of living, comparable to that enjoyed” during the marriage, despite his bankruptcy filing. She claims he spent $13,000 on six round-trip first-class plane tickets to Hawaii, at least $10,000 on lodging while there and a $250,000 retainer to prominent criminal defense lawyer Joe Friedberg. She said Hecker recently spent $2,500 on their 14-year-old son during a trip to Las Vegas and gives him a $1,000 monthly allowance.” Denny would be in a lot less trouble if he bought dogs and rings for Joe Friedberg.
MaryJo Webster’s Tuesday story in the PiPress reported that in addition to giving a Minneapolis Realtor the go-ahead to offer $2.4 million for a Kenwood mansion,”A bank statement for New Dimension Advisors, a company Hecker created after filing for bankruptcy, shows a $5,000 expense to the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Aug. 26 plus more than $2,300 to two Las Vegas clothing stores Aug. 24 and 25. Hecker owed the Mirage $245,000, according to schedules filed in his bankruptcy. Roseville bankruptcy attorney Barbara May said [bankruptcy trustee Randall] Seaver was sending a message by bringing to light Hecker’s travels rather than simply asking the court to fine him. “[Seaver] never wastes time going fishing,” May said. “What he wants to know is where is the money coming from?”
Star Tribune reporter Dee DePass has the Hecker bankruptcy court drama, with news from a separate hearing still (when you’ve got 20 law suits filed against you, you’re soaking up a lot of courtroom space) that “U.S. bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel granted permission to sell Hecker’s Crosslake boat docks and a Harley motorcycle back to Hecker for $40,000 on the condition that he say where he got the money. Chrysler Financial attorney Stephen Grinnell had argued that it made little sense for Hecker to spend so much when he owed creditors millions.” In other words, “We’ll let you buy back your dock and motorcycle, but you have to tell us where in hell you got $40,000.”
Meanwhile, with the countdown starting toward his trial, Tom Petter’s hedge fund buddy, Gregory Bell, threw in the towel and pleaded guilty to his role in a $3.6 billion Ponzi scheme. David Phelps writes for the Strib: “Standing before [Judge Paul] Magnuson in baggy sweat clothes, the diminutive Bell, with a streak of gray in his otherwise dark hair, responded affirmatively as Docherty outlined a plot to prop up Petters’ failing business by allowing [Bell’s company] Lancelot to finance 86 ’round-trip’ financial transactions between the hedge fund and PCI so that Lancelot investors would believe that PCI was current on its obligations.” A “round trip” refers to you wiring someone $1 million and him wiring it right back, to make it look like you’re an investor and he’s got income. It isn’t as impressive if you “round trip” $25.
Who knew antifreeze could kill a dog? “Not us” says a La Crescent, Wis., couple, who had enough of their neighbor’s dog rooting around and doing its business in their yard — not to mention swiping their venison sausage right off the grill. So, you guessed it, they laced some chow with antifreeze, the dog went into seizures and died and they ended up in court. The PiPress runs a story from the LaCrosse Tribune.
Where’s the Taxpayers League when you need them? Property-owning St. Paulites are going to get whacked with a “fee” increase for street maintenance. David Orrick and Patrick B. Anderson report for the PiPress that a lot of criticism is in the “what more are we getting for more money?” realm. Hello? “More”? 2009? Public opinion was sharp. ” ‘It’s really extortion,’ Jimmy Sande, a business owner and resident of the Summit-University neighborhood, said after addressing council members. He said that when he received the notice of the 2009 assessments, ‘As I was reading it, I swear to God, I saw three (public works) guys working with one shovel.’ “
Burl Gilyard at Finance and Commerce has a good roundup of all the restaurant and condo activity at Lyndale-Lake in Minneapolis, a lot of it kicking in after interminable road construction nearly killed off a half-dozen businesses. One that died, jP American Bistro, has been replaced by something called the Lyndale Tap House.
Reality landed with a thud on our scrappy Twinkies. They lost last night 7-2 in Game 1. Maybe their dawn arrival in New York — after a couple of hours drenching each other in booze — had something to do with it. I never played well with champagne in my eyes. The City Pages staff puts together (only) 10 Reasons for Hating the Yankees. (What? Too little space on the website for 3,000?) Among the best. No. 7. Yankees fans. “It’s simple really. They are obnoxious and arrogant. And they actually believe they are responsible for every Yankee championship since 1932.” I mean really, ask yourself, do you personally like anyone who identifies themselves as a Yankee fan?