It was close. I mean the part about finding out what would happen if you held an election and no one showed? But despite a ridiculously low turn-out — as of 7 a.m., the Secretary of State’s Office was showing roughly 45,000 out of 231,000 registered voters in Minneapolis — R.T. Rybak won re-election to a third term and St. Paul’s Chris Coleman to a second, both by 2-to-1-plus margins. A snooze, in other words. Coverage is widespread but less riveting a read than an old Denny Hecker car ad. But then as a reporter handed this job, what can you do? The Strib’s Steve Brandt slogs through the statistics here.
Lucky Brandt also draws the assignment of assessing the debut of Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting, whichever you prefer, arguably the story with the most long-term consequences for third-party-candidate weary Minnesotans. The trickle of voters will make the break-in of that system a bit easier, and most people — emphasis on most — found it simple enough. However, in Brandt’s piece there is this observation, ” ‘There are always going to be people who don’t understand 1, 2, 3 and A, B, C,’ said voter Valerie Powers.” No kidding. (We, of course, wonder what might happen when Joe Soucheray is required to use the accursed IRV system, narrowly approved by St. Paul voters Tuesday.)
In St. Paul, a mere 34,000 exercised their hard-won democratic rights. The PiPress’s Dave Orrick covers the results, noting that, “turnout was the lowest for a city in a mayoral election since at least 1993. Since then, no race has fallen below 59,000 voters.”
Very sad and odd story about the three North Dakota softball players, two from California, found drowned inside their Jeep at the bottom of a 12-foot-deep pond — in the middle of a farm field — outside Dickinson, N.D. The Associated Press story quotes the local sheriff saying, “he believed the women were on a stargazing trip in the Jeep when they called for help, but he did not know whether it already was under water when the calls were made.”
You can bet far more than 80,000 are following the events of the Tom Petters trial. Stribber Jon Tevlin, who was tracking Petters before he became a metro columnist, has a good piece today drawing a line to an obvious enough but rarely noted characteristic of the alleged Petter Ponzi scheme, namely that it embodies an entire era in American entrepreneurship. Writes Tevlin, jurors were watching “a microcosm of the American economy where the workers lived on other continents, phantom money was borrowed from one another, mortgages were given from the over-leveraged to the under-funded, the Play Station IIIs behind the big box signs didn’t really exist.” Once you factor in the skepticism-free eye of the mainstream press and the cheerleading of so-called business magazines and journalists, the picture gets even clearer.
One of the mysteries of the Petters scheme in a town the size of this with such a relatively small group of deep-pocketed investors is why no one paid much attention to the Paulie Walnuts-like crowd Petters was hanging with. In Tuesday’s proceedings, we learned that Petters thought he might be hit (i.e., “whacked”) by Robert Sabes and his son Jon — a couple of well-heeled strip club owners into Petters for $19 million. The David Phelps- Jennifer Bjorhus story in the Strib gives the basics.
But if you want the real-orld vibe, the unsanitized stuff, ripe with Bada Bing!-style dialogue forbidden at family newspapers, you’ll have to check in with Ken Avidor at City Pages. Also note Petters writing himself a check for $90,000 for a new Bentley as a kind of Christmas present.
Bjorhus also files a short piece on the elder Sabes’, um, colorful career as a “philanthropist” and … strip club operator. You gotta love stuff like this: “The Sabes Family Foundation is known for charitable contributions, particularly to Jewish causes. Robert Sabes (pronounced SAY-biz) is also known for running the Minneapolis strip club Schieks Palace Royale (formerly Solid Gold) … Back in 1994, a former business associate of Sabes, strip club magnate Michael J. Peter, was indicted in Florida on charges of racketeering and selling hidden interests in one of his many strip clubs, called Thee Dollhouse III, to reputed members of the Gambino crime family. Peter had managed Solid Gold in Minneapolis, which was part of a national chain, for Sabes.” Somehow the appeal of a guy like (accused Ponzi scheme operator) Petters becomes more apparent, doesn’t it?
And no, we’re not forgetting Denny Hecker. Baffled by where he keeps coming up with $25,000 here and $50,000 there for facelifts and jaunts off to Hawaii for R&R, prying eyes (public and legal) learned Tuesday that Denny has been tapping his 401(k) account, or at least $125K of it, paired with loans — yup, more loans — he dumped into yet another new business, this one with the ironic “Twilight Zone”-tinged name of “New Dimension Advisors.” The PiPress team of Mary Jo Webster and Nicole Garrison-Sprenger note that in what has been revealed to be typical for a Hecker enterprise, “The deposits also included more than $54,000 in ‘reimbursements’ that were not otherwise explained and about $700 listed as ‘unknown.’ Four deposits, adding up to about $25,000, designated as consulting fees listed in the divorce filing don’t indicate the names of the clients.”
Route 3A wins! The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority declared 3A the victor in the contest to choose a route for the Southwest light-rail line in from Eden Prairie. The key issue here was Uptown, as in whether to go there or not. That’s where the ridership and demand probably are, sure, but also much higher costs. The winning 3A skirts Uptown, coming in from St. Louis Park through Cedar Lake/Lake of the Isle and into downtown by Target Field. Here is MPR’s Madeleine Baran’s story.