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‘Anonymous donor’ funds anti-gay marriage DVD mailing

ALSO: Tom Emmer a serial re-financer? Plus Minnesota’s wealthy, pop-up restaurants and, of course, Denny Hecker.

An “anonymous donor,” you say? That’s who we have to thank for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ unprecedented mailing of 400,000 DVDs to state Catholics calling for additional legislation to ban gay marriage. Elizabeth Dunbar and Madeleine Baran’s MPR story says: “[Archbishop] Nienstedt told Minnesota Public Radio News that it’s the first time the diocese has used a mass DVD mailing to inform church members of specific church teachings or beliefs. He said the video, distributed about six weeks before the gubernatorial election, was not a ‘political statement’ or an endorsement of any candidate. He said he does not know how much it cost to produce or distribute the DVD, and said that private donor who funded the effort ‘asked to remain anonymous.’ In the video, Nienstedt says that allowing same-sex couples to marry would change the meaning of marriage for all Minnesotans.’ ” Its understandable the church would  move so aggressively against homosexuality, I mean since their work sheltering God’s homeless and feeding His hungry is pretty well wrapped up.

Sally Jo Sorenson, of the Tom Emmer-chewing Bluestem Prairie blog, files an eye-opening piece on the seven times Emmer has refinanced his house … since 2002. “Emmer’s first mortgage on his home in Delano was an unconventional two-year mortgage. The $300,000 mortgage from State Bank of Loretto, secured in September 2002, appears to be the sole instrument used by Emmer to finance the $425,000 purchase price of the home. I haven’t seen a record of the satisfaction of this mortgage before its October 2004 maturity date. (Wright County Property Records, Document 820583; All records were found at the Wright County Auditor’s office.) It appears as though each mortgage on Emmer’s home, including the original, have been unusual short term instruments. He has twice used home equity credit lines of $250,000 to finance his home.” She adds, “Things got a little more hairy in 2005. In November, Coleman, Hull & Van Vliet, PLLP, on behalf of the State Bank of Loretto, holders of Emmer’s mortgage, issued a Notice of Pendency of Proceeding to Foreclosure Mortgage on the property. (Wright County Property Records, Document 988266). Disaster was headed off on January 5, 2006 when Emmer obtained a new mortgage on the property from First Commercial Bank. The new mortgage allowed him to satisfy his mortgage with State Bank of Loretto, and foreclosure proceedings ceased.” Personally, I like a guy with first-hand experience with deficits.

There may be something in the punch bowl at the Emmer offices. The double whammy over the weekend of (ex?) campaign chairman of Rep. Mark Buesgens DUI arrest and the revelation that he was seriously under water with his home mortgage wasn’t, uh, good. Better news for Buesgens came yesterday with news that the sheriff’s office has temporarily stopped the foreclosure sale of his house. The AP story offers some loan numbers that really do appear to be trending in the wrong direction: “A notice published last week in the Jordan Independent said there was $717,289 due on the mortgage, which had an original principal amount of $644,000 in June 2004. Tax records show the 2,345-square-foot home and 1,000-square-foot garage were valued at $542,200. The Buesgens family bought the land in 2001 for $99,000.” Now, I’m no Constitution-waving conservative outraged at out-of-control government spending, but I’m pretty sure that the principal is supposed to decrease over the life of a loan.

“For the most part, these claims are true.” That’s Catharine Richert of MPR’s PoliGraph political ad fact-check blog on the AFL-CIO‘s hit-job mailer on Emmer for voting against funding for infrastructure repair that would have included the I-35 bridge. The mailer says: “ ‘Emmer voted three times against funds that would have repaired broken infrastructure across Minnesota, including the I-35 bridge. He even voted against the final attempt to rebuild infrastructure before the bridge collapsed.’ ” And that, “ ‘Emmer was one of only ten representatives that voted against efforts to compensate victims of the bridge collapse’ ” and that ” ‘Emmer opposed a $6.6 billion plan to rebuild roads, bridges, and transit throughout Minnesota even after the I-35 bridge collapse.’ ” Richert rules: “For the most part, the AFL-CIO mailer is correct. On three occasions, Emmer voted against legislation having to do with the bridge collapse or general bridge repair in the state, though it’s important to note that the 2007 transportation funding bill did not specify repairs to the I-35W bridge.”

Apparently I have to issue an apology to the hard-working Denny Hecker beat writers, (who I accused Wednesday of slacking their duty). The Strib’s Dee DePass is back on the case with news that Hecker’s bankruptcy trustee Randall Seaver is now suing him and girlfriend Christi Rowan over $124,000 in insurance policies and check exchanges this past summer. (Denny didn’t miss a lot of dinners at Manny’s). Writes DePass: “The complaint also accused Hecker of writing four checks totaling $124,353 against liquidated or borrowed Prudential insurance policies in June. Seaver submitted to the court a loan application form signed by Hecker that sought to borrow $30,000 against a policy in the name of Hecker’s daughter, Holly. Seaver said Hecker and Rowan used Your Exchange check cashing services to cash checks from the insurance company. ‘Hecker converted the Prudential check proceeds to cash, Western Union money orders and a pre-loaded Mastercard. Hecker thereafter provided Western Union money orders to Rowan,’ the complaint said.” Why do I think that, like Tupac, Denny will continue delivering hits long after he departs the scene?

Folks who may never have had a flustered moment over being caught a bit short include, of course, a couple of the Cargill heirs. Forbes magazine’s annual cash-porn feature on the richest 400 is localized by the Strib’s Patrick Kennedy: who writes, “Brothers Cargill MacMillan, who Forbes now lists as living in Indian Springs, Calif., and Whitney MacMillan claimed the top spot among Minnesotans, and ranked 79th overall with $3.8 billion each. Other Minnesotans on the list were Richard Schulze, $2.5 billion; Glen Taylor, $2.2 billion; Stanley Hubbard, $1.75 billion, and the families of Barbara Carlson Gage and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, each at $1.6 billion.”

The change of seasons will stall the idea, but St. Paul is testing out the idea of “pop-up cafes,” basically a couple of tables’ worth of seating on a platform in a parking space. The PiPress’ Frederick Melo explains that the cool kids on the coasts are, like, already there. “The concept has been tested in San Francisco and along the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan’s financial district, but it’s a first for St. Paul. Developer John Mannillo, chair of the Friends of Mears Park, has proposed a block-length pop-up cafe for four months a year, with outdoor seating shared by the wine bar, Barrio Tequila Bar and the Bulldog Lowertown. ‘You’re not using up a drive lane and parking space for eight months of the year, when you don’t need it,’ Mannillo said.” Now, I like the alfresco thing, but do I really want to get closer to the dump truck idling at the light?

Also in St. Paul, I’m not sure if $10,000 will cover the hit Central Corridor businesses will take during construction of the new LRT line, but it is better than a politician telling them to bootstrap it. Brent Renneke’s Business Journal story explains: “Small businesses will each have the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 in the interest-free deferred loan. The city said the loans will help the local economy during the construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line, which will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul.”

Go ahead and debate the relevance to the campaign, but City Pages’ Hart Van Denburg isn’t letting go of the story of Tom Emmer’s kid’s underage boozing and strip club antics. The police report on the July 10 incident — when 19-year-old Tripp Emmer was a paid staffer on dad’s campaign — has been released, and those things are always good, lurid reading. Says Van Denburg: “Emmer has also chosen to make Tripp and the rest of his family part of his campaign, billboarding them in a video extolling his Republican family values and budget-cutting acumen. So earlier this month we decided to publish photos from Facebook that offered a different look at Tripp Emmer — the ones without the family values. In image after image he’s shown, as a 19 year old, whooping it up with beer in hand at a party. And in one now notorious photo, he can be seen posing over a passed out woman on whose face someone has drawn penis pictures. And he’s smiling, giving a big thumbs-up.” OK, the kid is 19 … but he posted that on Facebook?

Van Denburg also has posted video of Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell (of withcraft without masturbation fame) and Al Franken on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” circa 1997. With Michele Bachmann a highly likely opponent for Franken in  2014, this kind of “discussion” may have some future pertinence. He reports: “Here’s what set them off: Part of the welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 included $250 million for sex education in public schools. But states would only get that money if their sex ed programs included teaching that sex outside of marriage has harmful physical and psychological effects. The holier-than-thou ones froth about consistent morals and how sex is bad. And Franken calmly suggests they and Congress are a boatload of hypocrites.”

Four inches of rain fell overnight in some places in southern Minnesota. MPR’s Tim Nelson files, saying: “Steele County emergency manager Michael Johnson said this morning that water covered the roads in more than 30 areas around Owatonna overnight, and that the sheriff’s office still has some roads barricaded where the roadway is underwater. Johnson also said that the Owatonna Fire Department evacuated about five homes as a precaution, asking residents to leave and turning off utilities in homes along the Straight River and Maple and Turtle creeks. He said that there wasn’t time to sandbag or otherwise protect the homes.”