Whoa, dude! So, a Minneapolis cop gets so ticked off at kids playing ding dong ditch that he jumps into his Escalade hunts the 12-year-olds down, packs them into the truck and drives them off to the proverbial woodshed … leaving neighbors and parents to think they’ve been abducted? While the cop involved is disputing some of the details, David Chanen’s story in the Strib is a head-slapper, with lines like the cop telling one of the parents after he finally brought the kids home, “I am the [expletive] police. I don’t need to talk to them.” The cop involved has been temporarily assigned to internal affairs. Wait a minute … Minneapolis cops drive Escalades?
And if that weren’t bad enough, Chanen’s colleague Rochelle Olson has a story about a cop working a prostitution sting allegedly confusing a “happy ending” with an arrest. The story comes out of appeals court and it could, says Olson, provide some precedent for others charged in sting operations. The attorney for the woman involved says, “The proper way to conduct a prostitution sting is for the officer to get a verbal agreement of sex for money and then make the arrest. The evidence is the words of the agreement. The police are not free to go on and sport with the suspected prostitute.” Defense attorneys seem excited at a new, viable strategy for their “stung” clients.
You don’t have to be a scurrilous s.o.b. to enjoy City Pages’ “Turkeys of the Year” feature, but it helps. With 30 other local publications hyping the “Best Hot Dogs” and “Best Dry Cleaning,” the CP gang is taking gleeful shots at some of those who plague us year in and year out. Obviously Denny (Hecker), Tom (Petters) and Michele (Bachmann) get big play. As do Police Chief Dolan’s pot-smoking brother and, of course, Tim Pawlenty. Taking a tone far beyond the limited courage of either daily’s editorial page, CP writes, “Politicians are allowed their personal ambitions, of course, but in Pawlenty’s transparently coy run for president, he has made decisions based on how they would play to the Republican base rather than what is best for his state. This year’s serio-comic budget battle was a prime example. Knowing that no Republican could win the party’s nomination with a record of tax increases, Pawlenty drew a line in the sand and refused to discuss tax compromises even during one of the worst budget crises in state history. When his brick-wall stubbornness created a stalemate with the Legislature, Pawlenty reached into his constitutional bag of tricks and pulled out ‘unallotment,’ a process that allowed him to unilaterally slash $2.7 billion from the budget, much of it from education and health services for the poorest of the poor.” Gobble, gobble.
With everyone waiting for the commercial real estate shoe to drop, Burl Gilyard of Finance and Commerce digs up some numbers on the current grim situation. Reporting from an industry presentation/panel discussion Gilyard writes, “The office market remains in tough shape as many tenants seek to cut the amount of space that they’re leasing. In other cases, companies are going out of business, leaving landlords with more empty space. The general sentiment is that the worst may not be over. ‘I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom,’ said Sonja Breyfogle, vice president with Bloomington-based NorthMarq.” Gilyard adds, “Office vacancy across the Twin Cities has hit its highest rate since 1992. Vacancy across the Twin Cities now stands at 18.5 percent. There is approximately 5 million square feet of vacant office space in downtown Minneapolis alone. The once-golden southwest suburban office market is now posting the highest office vacancy rate in the area, with a 22.5 percent vacancy rate. Counting available sublease space in the southwest market, the vacancy rate climbs to a dizzying 26 percent.” In other words, put on hold your development plans.
Smart Politics numbers guy Eric Ostermeier says this morning that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is one of only two states to drop from February through October of this year. “Only two other states, Colorado (-4.2 percent) and North Dakota (-2.3 percent), have experienced a net decrease in the rate of unemployment during this 9-month span, with Virginia even at 0.0 and the … other states seeing a net increase in unemployment from February to October.” Hence all that talk about some sort of jobs creation bill.
Keith Ellison is getting some competition. Lynne Torgerson, an independent, an attorney and a sanctity of marriage proponent announced Tuesday. She has what the pros like to call a long row to hoe.
Ashby Jones, writing in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, interviews Hamline professor/dean Donald Lewis on Tom Petters’ predicament as the jury deliberates. The short version: It don’t look good. Asked why Petters didn’t plead out, Lewis explains, “Even with a guilty plea, the [sentencing] guidelines are off the charts. You can’t cause a $3.65 billion loss and expect a 5-year deal. The guidelines aren’t mandatory, but judges are still likely to adhere to them. With what Petters was alleged to have done, you have absolutely nothing to gain by pleading.” So? His chances for acquittal? “I’d be stunned if he were acquitted. I just think that he has such a high mountain to climb to get acquitted. From what I hear, he did not react well during cross examination, and people told me that his direct wasn’t all that strong either.”
Under the heading of “Guys I Don’t Want for Next-door Neighbors” is the story out of Burnsville of the 25 year-old, Michael Schwartz, charged with manslaughter for shooting his best buddy after a night of boozing. Frederick Melo’s PiPress story has the squalid details. “After the bar closed, the two [other] men left without Schwartz. Within an hour, [the victim] Ahlers called Schwartz at his apartment and asked to be let in; Schwartz told investigators he refused. Instead, Schwartz took his Glock pistol and went out to his truck, where he was joined by his cousin, according to the charges. The cousins went inside, where Schwartz loaded the gun and cocked it, showing it off. Later, the cousins found Ahlers lying in the hallway near the entrance to another apartment. Schwartz, annoyed at being abandoned at the bar, told authorities he called Ahlers a ‘jackass,‘ according to charges. Ahlers rushed at Schwartz and the two wrestled. The gun went off, shooting Ahlers in the neck, the complaint states. The bullet exited his skull, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
“It’s a long way to $25 million” is Hennepin County Medical Center’s response to how they’re going to close Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotment cuts. In the Strib, Kevin Duchschere explains: “The plan includes cuts of 150 to 200 jobs, the closing of two clinics, and the decision to halt treatment of uninsured, non-emergency patients who live outside of Hennepin County. Hennepin County administrators in September proposed that the County Board hike the 2010 property tax levy by 3 percent to cover the hospital’s losses. But that would raise only $18 million, and the County Board has already voted not to raise the levy more than 4.95 percent.”
Speaking of taxes — both the lack of and too many — Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, wearing an every-guy Vikings pullover, brought a couple of players down to Austin Tuesday to goose public interest in building him a new stadium. Some in that crowd, according to Mike Kaszuba of the Strib, have no problem paying more taxes if it means a splashy new home that makes a lot more money for a multi-millionaire. ” ‘I think he’s a great guy,’ said Ben Rushton, of Austin, moments after posing for a picture with Wilf. Rushton said he attends one Vikings game a year, but ‘I would vote yes’ for a new stadium. It was ‘inevitable,’ he said, that taxpayer money would be involved. ‘It’s going to cost [everybody] money, no matter what’.” Wilf, by the way, is now insistent on the $200 million optional retractable roof. Maybe they could squeeze an HCMC clinic up in the rafters.
With only a couple of days to go before The Big Day … Black Friday … when, uh, consumers spend all night out in the cold for their shot at the one $500 big screen TV on “super sale,” the counterfeit stuff is piling up. Paul Walsh’s story, again in the Strib, has the feds showing off some of the $600,000 in fake designer merchandise floating around the state. “Confiscated were counterfeit designer purses patterned after those made by Dooney and Bourke, Dolce and Gabanna, Louis Vuitton, Coach, Prada and Fendi. Fake designer clothing also was seized bearing such names as Coogi, Sean Jean, Apple Bottom, Evisu, Roca Wear and Nike, including Air Jordans.” Zygi’s pullover is, however, an original.