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A turnaround: no press for Bachmann’s Tea Party speech

PLUS: Franken staff kerfuffle, waiting for “Godot,” and a heck of a lot more Hecker news.

The crowd that was so eager to get media attention as it disrupted and overran so many of those health care town halls last summer is blocking the press from covering its first “national convention” in Nashville next month. This would be the much-anticipated Tea Party gathering where both Sarah Palin and our own Michele Bachmann will speak. “Given the media interest, I don’t want the sessions disrupted and overrun with the media,” an organizer tells the Strib’s Kevin Diaz (via Hot Dish Politics). In language that would — heaven forbid! — never make a stiff and straight dead tree story, Diaz cracks, “If the secrecy sounds a little, well, un-American, [an organizer] has this explanation: It’s not a political convention, but a ‘working convention.’ “ (among others) noted the fat ticket prices to “work” at the convention. “Tickets for the Nashville event run $549, plus a $9.95 fee, while separate tickets to see only Palin cost $349. Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee are also scheduled to speak at the three-day conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.” Palin is reportedly charging $75,000 to speak … to her base.

The less, um, “mediated” ChattaBox blog says that “the group planning an upcoming tea party national convention recently sent out an email blast warning members to beware of ‘liberal trolls’ invading its site to disrupt their “dialogue” against liberalism. The email claimed that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow tried to join the group, but she was immediately banned. ‘You can and will be banned for being a liberal,’ said the email. Well, Rachel Maddow didn’t try to join the Tea Party’s listserv, believing the accusation to be a publicity stunt. Tea Party Nation then sent out another email warning about disruptive liberal spies, claiming that liberals have joined their group ‘en masse’ and have uploaded porn.” Dang, but this is going to be one squirrelly show … that you know someone will sneak in to and have on YouTube an hour later.

Minnesota home sales were up for 2009, but the prices were down, again. MPR’s Ann Baxter’s story explains that the year worked through a significant inventory of unsold properties, and the sale of so many “distressed” buildings was a big part of the low median sales price. The good news is that “local realtor associations point out that the number of lender-mediated properties on the market dropped considerably last year. And the total number of houses for sale represents about a 5-month supply, well within the range of what’s considered a balanced market.” The bad news is that continued high unemployment is going to result in more foreclosures through 2010. And yes, banks have not been particularly helpful in agreeing to short sales to clear inventory. But, ” … starting in April, under [a new federal program], participating lenders will have a 10-day window to respond to a homeowner’s application for a short sale, and there will be some financial incentives to do so.”

Do check out Kevin Diaz’s piece on a kerfuffle (with cops) in Al Franken’s Senate office. No, not a couple Teabaggers ranting about the “gummint,” but two of Franken’s staffers going at each other, verbally. The base issue is how many real live Minnesotans Franken has on staff, as opposed to how many Beltway types. Go-to quote machine, Larry Jacobs gets off this line. “This is not a guy who has worked his way up from being on the city council to the state house, to running for Senate. This is a guy who basically left the state for decades, came back, and ran as a national figure.” Hence, he was well plugged in to the D.C. machine.

A gal needs a real shot at a decent job
in this tough economy. So former State Auditor Pat Anderson is bailing on the Republican governor’s race and setting her sights on the Auditor’s office … again. Her quote in Tim Pugmire’s MPR story: “The focus of the Republican Party has really been exclusively on the race for governor. Nonetheless, a number of key players in the party have remained on the sidelines, waiting for Godot to show up. I can say it’s been frustrating.” The “Godot” reference, of course, is to Norm Coleman, who enjoys the perception of having the nomination if he wants it. (MinnPost coverage here.)

PiPress Capitol reporter Bill Salisbury explains that “The former Eagan mayor [Anderson] believes she was running third in the race for the Republican gubernatorial endorsement behind Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer. They were the top three finishers in a straw poll taken at the state GOP convention in October.” Paul Demko, in the Politics in Minnesota blog, says: “Anderson cited [Coleman’s] influence on her decision, noting that Coleman’s waffling about the race made it difficult to raise sufficient funds for a credible gubernatorial campaign. (According to some versions of this rumor du jour, Anderson is ‘convinced’ that Coleman will enter, and possibly as early as this week.)”

Drew Emmer (kin to candidate Tom Emmer) ain’t happy with Tim Pawlenty. In his Wright County Republican blog, he jumps all over Pawlenty for considering jacking up the state’s debt limit in his bonding guidelines.

Anderson and DFL gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley were the only two of all the candidates replying to a Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition poll who said they would not sign the Minnesota Health Care Act if it passes the Legislature. The bill would create a single-payer system in Minnesota. OK, so Anderson was the only Republican who responded. A Minnesota Independent story by Andy Birkey collects a lot of candidate boilerplate response along the lines of this by DFLer Paul Thissen, “We need to move away from an employer-dependent health care system, eliminate denials for preexisting conditions and, above all, return decision-making in health care back to the patient and medical provider.” But Mr. Candidate, doesn’t Blue Cross have a constitutional obligation to be involved in health care? I’m sure that’s in there somewhere …

As irresistible as Denny Hecker’s purely business-related travails are
to us ghouls, the personal stuff, with the very high-maintenance ex-wife and girlfriend, kind of buries the needle when it comes to morbid tabloid fascination. Dee DePass, the Strib’s appointed Hecker-watcher, has the tale of ex-wife Tamitha suing the trustee of Denny’s bankruptcy case, demanding ownership of a condo in Snowmass (Aspen) Colo., and half of maybe $1 million in jewelry and another $200K walking-around cash, stashed in a safe deposit box, but likely to be used to pay down the nearly $800 million Hecker owes to dozens if not hundreds of creditors. Says DePass, “Tamitha noted that Hecker was solvent when the former couple bought the Snowmass Village, Colo., condo.” The question, we guess, might be “solvent on whose money”?

Mary Jo Webster’s story in the PiPress includes this graph, “Whether Tamitha Hecker will succeed in this lawsuit largely depends on whether she can prove the gifts and the purchase of the timeshare … occurred at a time when Hecker was not over his head in debt or that she paid for the items with her own money …” And good luck with that, ma’am.

Former KFAN talk show host Jeff Dubay has blown his latest drug rehab attempt and is heading back to the slammer with the prospect of doing a full year if he doesn’t get his act together soon. Here’s Pat Pheifer’s story in the Strib. The judge in the case “could have sent Dubay, who lives in Plymouth, to prison for a year and a day. Instead, she ordered that he serve the remaining 88 days of his original 180 days in the workhouse and imposed another consecutive 90-day sentence. The prison sentence still hangs over his head.”

Dubay was known for being a (sometimes too) fierce U of M fan, so he’d appreciate the Minnesota Lynx swinging a deal that brings the U’s record-holding superstar, Lindsay Whalen, home to Minnesota. Tim Leighton in the PiPress notes that “Attendance at University of Minnesota women’s games averaged 1,087 during Whalen’s freshman season. It rose to 9,866 per game when she was leading the Gophers on magical runs to three NCAA tournament appearances. She is the Gophers’ all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points and was a three-time All-American.” (MinnPost coverage here.)’s story is a good read on the subject of the Lynx. “The upside to struggling is that Minnesota has been stockpiling talent the past few years through the draft, including the likes of Seimone Augustus, Candice Wiggins, Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston. Still, there has been a missing element. Hard to imagine there would be a better way to fill that than with Whalen, especially as Augustus returns this summer after sitting out most of last season with a knee injury.”

The Minneapolis-St.Paul Business Journal’s “Business Pulse Survey” asks you to vote on how far the Vikings will go this season. The results: 35 percent see the Vikes winning the Super Bowl, and 29 percent see them beating Dallas but losing in the NFC title game.