Kiffmeyer relationship with bank not interesting enough?

The closing of the Riverview Community Bank got a fair amount of coverage recently, mostly because of their public professions of faith, including founder Chuck Ripka’s claim that God was watching out for investors (they also opted for strange art choices in their Otsego headquarters, which included an image of Jesus closing a bank deal that City Pages reprinted); the fact that the bank was closed by feds was just too delicious to pass up, and both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press covered the story.

But Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Independent noticed something odd: An early version of the story in the Star Tribune referenced the fact that state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer has close ties to the bank; specifically, according to Schmelzer, she’s listed as “president and director of American Eagle Financial Corporation, which owns and controls Riverview Community Bank.” However, a later version of the story scrubbed mention of Kiffmeyer. Schmelzer contacted Star Tribune business reporter Chris Serres, who said that he cut the Kiffmeyer reference to make room for more “God stuff,” feeling that Kiffmeyer’s relationship to the bank was already known and less interesting.

Gosh, computers can be distracting. You download a game for your iPod Touch and next thing you know, it’s 2 in the morning; you get into an online chat and before you know it, you’re late for work; you try to schedule crew schedules on your laptop, and next thing you know you’ve overshot the Minneapolis airport by a hundred miles or so. At least, the latter seems to be what happened to the pilots of Northwest Flight 188, according to KARE11’s Karla Hult .

The trouble, it seems, is that the crew scheduling software is new to the pilots, a product of the Delta acquisition of Northwest, and it’s extremely complicated, as the John Welbes from the Pioneer Press explains. Welbes quotes an unnamed Northwest pilot, who said that the software “can turn your life upside down for a couple of months” and added that if pilots “don’t pick up the new system in short order, you could mess up your family life for a bit until you figure that out and can take advantage of your seniority.”

Pat Pheifer of the Star Tribune offers a portrait of the St. Paul Police Department’s Offenders Prostitution Program, better known as john school. The program is run by an organization called Breaking Free (here’s its web page), which Pheifer describes as “a St. Paul organization that helps women escape prostitution and its accompanying lifestyle,” and the day-long program is intended to demonstrate to convicted johns that prostitution is not a victimless crime. The story is also interesting for the discussion that ensued, which seems to be a product of the Strib’s moderating policy: a complicated and mostly civil debate has broken out as to possible solutions to prostitution, including legalizing it, and a comment accusing a local pastor of being a john looks to have been swiftly removed. It’s very strange to see a comment-section discussion at a newspaper that actually adds value to the original story, rather than simply being an unregulated zone in which partisans hijack every issue to promote their talking points. If you want to do that now, you’re probably going to have to be a politician.

Case in point, as published in the Pioneer Press: Pawlenty hasn’t shied away from painting Obama as a tax-and-spend-liberal, but he seems to have added in a new rhetorical trick in an interview with Newsmax, as recounted by Ronald Kessler: Obama might get us attacked. Specifically, Pawlenty said the following: “History proves that it is weakness, not strength, that tempts our enemies, and he is projecting potential weakness, and enemies may see that and their respect may be reduced as a result of that, or worse.” Also, Pawlenty accused Obama of being extremely partisan, and complained that Obama’s economic policies were going to create dangerous deficit and debt, and then was interrupted by a terrific argument between a pot and a kettle.

The Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh introduces us to a novel twist in a murder tale: Betsy M. Hanks of Kelliher has been charged with shooting her husband in the head; police say she decided to blame her 3-year-old, claiming she had found him playing with a gun and when she tried to take it from him, it went off. Odd though that might be, the strangest paragraph in the story is as follows: “later in the interview, Hanks admitted to killing Albert before heading to Mizpah, in hopes of giving her children a better father, according to the charges.” According to Wikipedia, Mizpah had 78 people in it as of the 2000 census; it’s very hard to divine precisely what her Mizpah-husband-getting plan might have been.

It’s not local, but we can’t resist a good cave man story: As reported on FOX9, “A leading geneticist has determined that modern man and Neanderthals had sex across the species barrier.” How could they resist? Just look at those soulful eyes.

Enough of the Vikings, it’s time to talk about hunting. Specifically, let’s sing the praises of our great hunters — specifically, 12-year-old Kelly Holmin, who is now the youngest Minnesotan to have killed a moose, according to the Associated Press, which also offers an image of Holmin astride the great fallen beast. Of course, had she been a Neanderthal, she probably would have felled her first moose at age 3, or, at least, that’s what her mother would have claimed.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Chris Clonts on 10/27/2009 - 10:09 am.

    As great as it is to have more people telling this awesome tale, I’m compelled to point out that the original, and more complete, version of this story can be found at http://www.twincities.com/topstories/ci_13604419, told by the Pioneer Press’ Chris Niskanen. — C

  2. Submitted by Nick Coleman on 10/27/2009 - 10:51 am.

    The painting of Jesus as a Barry Gibbs look-a-like closing a business deal in his bathrobe hung in the office of the president of the Riverview Community Bank when the bank opened. The image appeared on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Magazine for Oct. 31, 2004 to illustrate the cover story about religion in the workplace, a story called, “With God at Our Desks.”
    You can see the cover here: http://www.icwm.net/images/55886/NYTimeOct31.04Cover.JPG
    By the way, I don’t expect to get credit for fishing an image from the deep pools of the Internet. But if I hadn’t, City Pages wouldn’t have re-printed it. It’s too good to forget.
    I’m assuming the guys in suits in the painting are now being probed by a heavenly grand jury.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2009 - 01:45 pm.

    Curious.

    Have there been any allegations of criminal conduct on Kiffmeyer’s part? Haven’t 105 other banks fallen in a similar fashion?

    Oh, I know, I know…mocking Christianity is all the rage among the scary smart, reality based community, but what of the rest of us?

    Perhaps thoughtful readers would be interested in knowing that the bank in question (Riverview Community Bank)has been acquired by another bank (Central Bank), which takes the FDIC off the hook…not that any hook has been proffered.

    Some might be unsurprised to learn that Riverview’s closure was caused by the fact that it’s investment portfolio was inordinately dependent on commercial property values, and that while the value of that portfolio has certainly decreased, it is far from worthless…also, the Community Reinvestment Act played no part in this story.

    Others might be concerned to learn that according to allbusiness.com, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently revealed that 71 of the state’s bank, 22% of the total (of which none are reported to have displayed portraits of Christ), are on an internal “watch list.”

    http://www.allbusiness.com/banking-finance/banking-institutions-systems-bank-branches/13299406-1.html

    Now, Christ in a bathrobe is lots of fun, but there is obviously lots of information that readers might actually find of value left to hang in the breeze.

    Perhaps there is someone…perhaps a journalist that “knows stuff” out there somewhere, that can do some erm, journalism.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket….I’ll call Jay Rosen for a reference.

  4. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/27/2009 - 02:22 pm.

    I’m sure the “scary smart, reality based community” would be happy to mock you as well, Tom. šŸ˜‰

    An elected official doesn’t have to commit a crime to be newsworthy, and no one is accusing the Rep. Kiffmeyer of wrongdoing, as far as I can see. What I and other are wondering is how is it that such a high profile politican, so deeply involved in this failed bank, did not merit at least a line or two in the story.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/27/2009 - 02:29 pm.

    Not really that “curious”….

    For those who would like to peruse a list of “troubled banks”. Here is a link that I use for both work and research purposes.

    This is a nation wide list which lists banks by state and or category. You can click on the category to rearrange the order to suit your purposes.

    snip//Overall, the institution count is 482 with aggregate assets of $321.9 billion, up from $316.6 billion last week. The list is compiled from regulator press releases or from public news sources (see Enforcement Action Type link for source). The FDIC data is released monthly with a delay, and the Fed and OTC data is more timely.//snip

    By my count there are just a few more that thirty banks in MN that currently have had actions take by the FDIC. You can read the enforcement action taken by the FDIC as well as read the actual order.

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/10/problem-bank-list-unofficial-oct-23.html

    Best to all….

  6. Submitted by David Brauer on 10/27/2009 - 02:58 pm.

    Tom – no one is alleging criminality; that’s not the standard. “Common sense” people really shouldn’t be expected to overlook the charlatanism of selling a bank as “Jesus taking care of the bottom line” when He really had no interest in that.

    Riverview wasn’t the only one to make bad real estate loans, but that’s not the point: it sold itself as something higher, and ultimately just as reckless as the rest.

    Both the bank’s unique aspects and its run-of-the-mill ones have been chronicled, so I think Jay Rosen can rest safely in NY.

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2009 - 03:48 pm.

    Ah, charlatanismā€¦of course.

    This from the many of the same leftists that expressed an utter lack of interest in the plethora of scandalous incidents, filthy language, low brow writings and all around low class, gutter dwelling behavior from the man they elevated to one of Minnesota’s US Senate seats…but now a creepy picture and the profession of Christian faith from poor business managers has this same pack of reprobate apologists all a-twitter.

    How do you know that a Christian belief in charity and good works didn’t have a hand in the making of poor business decisions?

    Could not “I’ll take care of the bottom line” mean “judge character, not profit”?

    I really don’t think anyone, especially anyone of the far left, know enough about what drives devout people of *any* faith to be making assumptions about what drives their actions, much less what any of their holy personages have interest in.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2009 - 04:01 pm.

    Ah, charlatanismā€¦of course.

    This from a representative of same leftists that expressed an utter lack of interest in the plethora of scandalous incidents, filthy language, low brow writings and all around low class behavior from the man they elevated to one of Minnesota’s US Senate seats…but now a creepy picture and the profession of Christian faith from poor business managers has this same pack of apologists all a-twitterā€¦because a Republican legislator is involved.

    How do you know that a genuine Christian belief in charity and good works didn’t have a hand in the making of those poor business decisions?

    Could not “I’ll take care of the bottom line” mean “assist the worthy, leave the rewards to Me”?

    I really don’t think anyone of the far left knows enough about what drives devout people of *any* faith to be making assumptions about what drives their actions, much less what any of their holy personages have ā€œinterest inā€.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/27/2009 - 04:14 pm.

    Ah,, the bonus round.

    Twice as much “Tom Foolery” is “almost” twice as entertaining.

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2009 - 04:29 pm.

    Wow, you’d think after being on the receiving end of that sort of razor sharp wit a guy would call it quits.

    *sigh* More proof that I’ll never be scary smart enough to fit in with the reality based community.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/27/2009 - 04:58 pm.

    “Common sense” people really shouldn’t be expected to overlook the charlatanism of selling a bank as “Jesus taking care of the bottom line” when He really had no interest in that.”

    That’s true. But then that’s not an accurate description of what (former bank President) Chuck Ripka said.

    The actual quote from the Pioneer Press that Dave et alia have appropriated for their amusement was:

    “He said, ‘Chuck, if you do all the things I told you to do, I promise you I will take care of the bottom line.'”

    I don’t expect any of the scary smart, reality based community to understand the distinction between the two, but I can say that people of common sense appreciate accurate information from which to arrive at their conclusions.

  12. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/27/2009 - 06:57 pm.

    I have a 12 year old granddaughter that uses the term “scary smart” as well as the term “wicked sick” to describe a few of the brightest kids in her AP classes. It’s nice to see the term is able to bridge the generation gap.

  13. Submitted by John Olson on 10/27/2009 - 07:31 pm.

    The point was that Kiffmeyer’s relationship with the bank was dropped from the article in a later edition. In my opinion, no wrongdoing was alleged on her part, implied or otherwise in the article.

    And nobody in here (through post #11 anyway) seems to be implying that she allegedly did anything wrong.

    But I cannot help but believe that if Rep. Kiffmeyer had been a DFLer instead of a Republican, there would be a line forming to the right calling for her resignation, a criminal investigation, etc.

  14. Submitted by Dan Gerber on 10/28/2009 - 02:28 am.

    What did Jesus do? He threw the money changers and
    profiteers out of the temple. I’m guessing they’d
    have been thrown out of Wall Street too.

  15. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/28/2009 - 06:45 am.

    I don’t people were mocking Christianity, Thomas, as much as they were questioning the whole idea being promoted by “prosperity” churches that God will make you rich if you just believe it strongly enough.

    Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book in which she describes the extent to which Americans have embraced the idea of positive thinking and elevated it to a kind of magic that will help you cure cancer, make you rich, get you whatever you want.

    Jesus’s message was for us to love one another, and both liberals and conservatives can try their best to apply that message in our daily lives.

  16. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/28/2009 - 11:22 am.

    I’ve heard of “prosperity churches”, Bernice, and frankly the concept turns my stomach.

    But I don’t know that is what Ripka was involved in; I don’t know anything about Ripka.

    All I know for sure is that the quote being tossed around here by wild eyed leftists isn’t the direct quote contained in the New York Times piece from which it was lifted.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/magazine/31FAITH.html?pagewanted=5&_r=2

    I’ve seen interpretations of the Gospel from members of the scary smart, reality based community that make my head spin, but I don’t give them any more credence than I would a bank president with a creepy painting of Christ on his wall.

  17. Submitted by David Brauer on 10/28/2009 - 11:32 am.

    Just to repeat the correction on what Tom is incorrectly challenging:

    The quote and source I provided is from the Strib, not the Times, and it’s a direct quote.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/west/65874567.html

    Non-scary common sense might indicate Ripka talked to more than one journalist back when he was pushing his bank.

  18. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/28/2009 - 01:16 pm.

    The story Dave linked to says *and I quote*:

    “Chuck Ripka, one of the bank’s founders, once told the Star Tribune that God spoke to him and said, “Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I’ll take care of the bottom line.”

    That is a quote from reporter Chris Serres, not Chuck Ripka.

    I’ve looked for the Strib story that contained the quote from Ripka, and cannot find one.

    The New York Times piece, on the other hand, contains a direct, first person quote attributed to Ripka.

    Now, as Dave alludes, I’m not a member of the scary smart, reality based community, and I don’t purport to be a journalist, but I do know the difference between an unverified statement and a first person quote.

  19. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/29/2009 - 10:05 am.

    “This from the many of the same leftists that expressed an utter lack of interest in the plethora of scandalous incidents, filthy language, low brow writings and all around low class, gutter dwelling behavior from the man they elevated to one of Minnesota’s US Senate seats…”

    That’s hitting below the belt, Tom. I’ve meet Norm Coleman a number of times, he’s really a very nice fellow. The man has Bell’s Palsy and just lost an election, recount and court challenge, for God’s sake. Give Norm a break.

    Oh, wait, you didn’t mean Rod Grams, did you? šŸ˜‰

  20. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 10/29/2009 - 11:19 am.

    You can’t mock Christianity with the illustration and content. It is itself a mockery of Christianity–any one I’m familiar with.
    Jesus closing a deal? This is sad, sick, bizarre, promoting the worship of money, not anything that Jesus taught.

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