End of Petters case has local media asking, ‘What now?’

The feelings at the end of a trial like Tom Petters’ are a bit like post-coital depression; there was just so much drama to it — for instance, there was the audiotape made by Deanna Coleman when she was wearing a wire for the FBI that captures Petters in full meltdown mode, which you can hear on the City Pages site, and Liz Collin of WCCO does her best to summarize, including this quote: “It’s all, it’s all (expletive) magic to get out of this. It’s like I’m sick of it. I’m sick of doing it and all. And I’m sick of it, sick of it.”

Esme Murphy, also of WCCO, offers up a few more juicy quotes, including Petters explaining just how high the stakes were in his business: “The reason I want to get him paid off is I think he’d kill me … When I say kill, I mean kill. I mean just have somebody for $5,000 come to my house and shoot ya.” But the trial is over and the evidence has been submitted, and so new details such as these aren’t likely to be forthcoming, leaving everybody asking, “What next?” KARE11 even puts the question in the headline of Scott Seroka’s report. Well, first of all, there is the sentencing, and Seroka informs us that Petters could get as little as 30 years in prison. Little? Well, little by comparison, as the maximum sentence is 350 years, which is quite a long time; to put it in perspective, 350 years ago Cromwell disbanded the English Parliament.

After that? Well, Petters is almost certainly going to appeal, as Steve Karnowski of the Associated Press tells us, quoting one of Petters’ attorneys as saying, “This fight is far from over as far as Mr. Petters is concerned.” And what of all the money lost in the Ponzi scheme? Both WCCO’s Bull Hudson and Martin Moylan of Minnesota Public Radio try to answer that question, and the answer is complicated. There is money to be found — in fact, almost $200 million has already been recovered from a bankruptcy sale of one of Petters’ business and from the sale of two of his vacation homes. But, with an estimated $3.5 billion lost, prosecutors are, as Moylan puts it, “not optimistic” that much of the money will get back to the victims. He quotes Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti: “It is a sad fact that in this case, like in most Ponzi schemes, that the amount of assets that are available for restitution purposes to victims of the fraud are generally grossly inadequate to meet the need.”

While we’re on the topic of billions of dollars, with the recent announcement that Minnesota’s budget deficit might reach $5.4 billion by 2012, Minnesota lawmakers are understandably eager to hear what Gov. Pawlenty’s plans are, according to the Associated Press. Pawlenty’s response in the story is that he might go ahead and make some more budget cuts on his own.

More on budget woes: MPR’s Brandt Williams details how the Minneapolis City Council budget committee scrambled to patch together a budget that would avoid layoffs in the police and fire departments, but the story points out that they may need to revisit this, as the state budget’s shortfall might mean a loss of state aid.

Boyd Huppert of KARE11 looks at one place where the budget is being squeezed: Minnesota’s Public Works department, which is looking at a 10 percent reduction in its snow removal budget. One of the results: “less traveled residential streets will have to wait longer to be plowed as the city cuts plow driver overtime to the bare bones.” Minnesota 2020’s John Fitzgerald looks at another, public schools, and makes the case that Minnesota schools are barely holding on, summarizing the financial situation thusly: “State investment in schools has dropped 13 percent since 2003.”

Of course, as the Daily Glean has already detailed, none of this is deterring Vikings fans from demanding public funds for a new stadium. The Star Tribune’s Mike Kaszuba sums up the ironic scene: “A hundred Minnesota Vikings fans, wrapped in team jerseys and wearing purple face paint, standing on the State Capitol steps demanding public money for a new stadium one day after state officials in the same building had announced a sobering $1.2 billion budget shortfall.” (The photos for the story are, depending on your mood, amusing or disquieting.) KARE11 was moved enough by this tale of superfandom to cover it twice, once by Karla Hult and once by John Croman, while WCCO’s Pat Kessler sums up the feeling about the subject on the part of the people who will actually make the decision: “It’s fair to say lawmakers are ambivalent about the stadium. One state representative wore a Vikings jersey to a committee hearing on Thursday. When asked if he’d support a tax hike, he pretended his microphone didn’t work.

You might have noticed that Sarah Palin has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to the release of her book, “Going Rogue,” and her bus tour to promote it (and the news that it’s not really a bus tour after all). So the fact that she will be visiting the Mall of America here in Minnesota, where she first made her debut on the national scene as a vice presidential candidate — well, that’s bound to get some coverage. But the stories of her visit aren’t exactly what you’d expect: The Mall of America sent out some guidelines for reporters wanting to cover the event, and, as the Associated Press reveals, included among them was a ban on non-English speaking press. Palin’s publishers say this was a mistake, and the AP explains that it wouldn’t really matter anyway, as Palin hasn’t been talking to the press on her bus tour; heck, as this video shows, she sometimes hasn’t bothered to stick around long enough to sign books for her fans.

So what to do if you head to the Mall and your plans for a day of Palin don’t go as expected? Even though this post was intended for Black Friday, it’s worth pointing out Mental Floss’ collection of 10 unusual facts about the Mall of America. We at the Daily Glean have been to the Mall hundreds, if not thousands of times, and have never noticed the chair glued to the wall above the Log Chute. But it’s there, and memorializes the longest home run hit when the Mall was the site of Metropolitan Stadium.

One last sports story: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was pulled over for speeding last weekend, as the AP reports. He was asked how fast he thought he was going, and he replied 85. When informed of his actual speed, he seemed incredulous, asking, “You sure?” His actual speed was 109 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Peterson has said that he plans to be more careful, and thank goodness. We at the Daily Glean do not own a BMW, as Peterson does, but we imagine it’s very easy to get distracted and accidentally drive at twice the posted speed limit without even noticing, so more care would be appreciated.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/04/2009 - 01:02 pm.

    I realize that I’m a bit old fashioned, or perhaps just really bizzy with my own life, but I honestly don’t see why people got into this trial as much as they did.

    It seemed pretty obvious a year ago that there was a great case against the guy. I wondered what he actually did for a living a long time ago. So it was all a matter of waiting.

    I realize that schadenfreude is a big part of the interest here, and that it’s always big nooze when the big boyz fall. But so what? It hasn’t changed my life on bit. I learned nothing new that requires me to take action.

    At least as “reality” teevee goes, this schtick was actually real. But ultimately, in terms of your own life, how “real” is it?

    My guess is that for all the time the local media have spent on this I’m not alone when I say, “Get a grip, no one really cared as much as you in the first place”.

  2. Submitted by kay smith on 12/04/2009 - 02:34 pm.

    Well, Max, now that the trial is over, we still have Denny Hecker.

  3. Submitted by Charles Senkler on 12/05/2009 - 05:45 am.

    Why doesn’t the legislature pull it’s collective head out of the sand and investigate the 1.2 Billion available as the proceeds from electronic pull tabs?
    Factor that and they can finance a new stadium.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/05/2009 - 08:25 am.

    What now? Oh, don’t worry, there’s always some Athlete getting a speeding ticket or someting, that’s good for at least two weeks. And then there’s Tiger, and party crashers. And if all else fails there’s always some kind of storm or crime that happened how ever many years ago today. The news hounds of the Twin Cities never seem to have much trouble digging up the hard news we all depend on.

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