Hecker, politics and the Fair

A lot of our news encapsulations lately have been about the gubernatorial race or the State Fair, which will also be true today. And perhaps that’s why Denny Hecker exists — as a new topic of conversation to break up some of the old topics, so they don’t become tedious.

The former auto mogul has been out on bail for a while now, but, as reported by Martin Moylan of Minnesota Public Radio, Hecker’s federal prosecutors are accusing him of not reporting more than $150,000, which, if true, violates the terms of his parole. Hecker lost both his private lawyers and pleaded such poverty that he got a court-appointed defender. To the best of our knowledge, the fellow is a perfectly good attorney, but one of the advantages of the high-priced ones is a certain savvy in dealing with the press. Hecker’s court-appointed lawyer had this to say: “If people loan him money, and Denny’s got a lot of good friends who loan him money, is that income, probably not. Is that an asset, probably not.” Ah, there is nothing more encouraging than the words “if” and “probably” when looking at prison.

And there’s more crime news today, via MPR’s Madeleine Baran: It’s starting to loook as though Minnesota can redub itself the “Land of 10,000 Ponzi Schemes,” the latest being a Lakeville man who pleased guilty to a con that cost investors about $79 million. Of course, that’s small potatoes to Tom Petters, whose scheme wound up with a price tag of about $3.65 billion and is still sending people to jail — according to the Associated Press, one Deanna Coleman, who was the prosecution’s star witness in the case against Petters, was sentenced to one year in prison for her participation in the Ponzi scheme. And even Petters’ billions pales next to the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff, which wound up costing between $12 billion and $20 billion. Madoff was not a Minnesotan but had a lot of local clients, so we’re going to count him as one of ours.

And now to the Fair. You may be wondering why the media enjoys covering it so much — well, so does Liz Collin of WCCO, and so, in a bit of meta news reporting, she covers the people who cover the Fair. She interviews WCCO-TV News Director Scott Libin, who offers this: “It’s a chance to prove we don’t take ourselves totally seriously and to let people see we’re human beings and not just anchors.” Well, good luck with that. We still suspect Frank Vascellaro can reach up and remove his face, revealing a circuit board and wires like Yul Brynner in “Westworld,” and no amount of dunk tanks are going to convince us otherwise.

The Star Tribune offers a panoramic view of the Fair’s Midway from photographer Carlos Gonzalez; see if you can spot the fried pickle booth. Blogger Andrew Miller delineates the fives phases of the State Fair, including internal monologues for each of the stages (on stage two: “This deep-fat-fried ham I’m eating is delicious! So is this stout beer! I can’t feel my legs!“).

This year has been an especially political one at, and for, the Fair, what with there being elections coming up: Michele Bachmann used the Fair as a campaigning point (and been chastised by the Fair for her unauthorized use of their logo); the various candidates have set up booths and shaken hands; Tom Horner has put up ads in Fair bathrooms; and, as is traditional, there’s a gubernatorial debate scheduled at the Fair today. WCCO’s Pat Kessler fact-checked the Bachmann ad, by the way. He found her claim that opponent Tarryl Clark wanted to raise the price of corn dogs at the Fair to be a distortion, but her charge that Clark also wanted to raise prices on beer to be accurate. So if Clark is going to campaign at the Fair, maybe she should steer clear of the beer tent.

We won’t go into too many details about City Pages’ recent piece on GOP candidate Tom Emmer’s son — we at the Daily Glean have a sense of fair play, and feel CP broached it by publishing photographs of the young man behaving in a manner that is stupidly consistent with a lot of young men. It is Tom Emmer that is running for governor, and not his son, and even if Emmer chooses to use his children in his ads, we do not feel this calls for an in-depth investigation into the lives of young people who did not ask to be in the public eye. So we mention this story only because Tom Emmer himself responded, releasing a statement (covered by Mike Mulcahy of MPR) that read, in part, “[m]y son made a serious mistake and has paid the consequences … It was a mistake which many Minnesota families are all too familiar with. Like all the other challenges in life, our family is dealing with our son in this matter with humility, seriousness, and love.” Hart Van Denburg of CP points out that Emmer’s son was a paid Emmer staffer when the aforementioned “mistake” occurred, which certainly makes the discussion an interesting one, ethically speaking.

In arts: The LOL/OMG gossip blog announces the closing of the popular Eclipse Records store, which they describe as being like the record store in “High Fidelity.” MPR’s Marianne Combs interviews the owner and discovers the source of the business shuttering — a conflict with the landlord. Combs points out that Eclipse wishes to reopen but also notes that this isn’t the first time this has happened, and the last time the store was closed for four years.

In sports: We reported last week on the Elk River High School football team that had suspended its season pending investigations of hazing. Lindsey Seavert of WCCO offers an update: Four players were dismissed, five players were suspended, and five coaches were put on paid administrative leave. The team played its first game minus these players and coaches on Thursday, which they lost.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Danny McConnell on 09/03/2010 - 10:47 am.

    The Elk River football team has 5 coaches? I wonder how many librarians or guidance counselors the Elk River school district has?

    And we wonder why our schools continue to fail.

  2. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 09/03/2010 - 12:10 pm.

    Presumably they have more than 5 coaches, since someone was probably on the sidelines after 5 were placed on leave. You have to remember, it’s important to start inflating the importance of football early on. That way, when a few players move on to college ball, having 85 scholarships for a team played by 22 people seemes reasonable, and those that make it to the pros will be immune to shame when they ask taxpayers to fund a playground for themselves and the other millionaires.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/03/2010 - 12:29 pm.

    Dimitri, you’re close, but didn’t get the whole story. Don’t foget that hazing your teammates with broomsticks is good preparation for giving, first college coeds, then taxpayers, the shaft.

  4. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 09/03/2010 - 12:51 pm.

    Touche…

  5. Submitted by Fluffy Rabinowitz on 09/03/2010 - 05:04 pm.

    I was not aware that drawing male genitalia with a magic marker on an unconscious girls face is a “mistake that many Minnesota families are all too familiar with.”

    Max Sparber’s dismissal of this incident as basically ‘boys will be boys’ is even worse than Tom Emmer’s lame explanation. What else was this girl subjected to while unconscious.

  6. Submitted by Randi Reitan on 09/03/2010 - 05:57 pm.

    Fluffy, I agree with you.

  7. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/04/2010 - 08:36 am.

    I was referring to the drunkenness. If the young woman wanted to charge whoever drew on her with assault, I would encourage her to do so.

  8. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/04/2010 - 10:58 am.

    I came across young Emmer’s conviction more than a month ago, while or shortly after the DUI ads ran, and wondered why the press hadn’t even mentioned it. When Emmer ran an ad featuring his idyllic family, I wondered again and thought, “OK, they feel family is off limits.” Reading that young Emmer was/is employed by his father’s campaign (at over $300 a week) makes it relevant, IMO, just as it would be if any other staffer had been popped for commission of a crime. (I also can’t help but wonder what Emmer’s many volunteers and contributors think about Emmer using the campaign as a way to employ family members.)

  9. Submitted by Patrick Guernsey on 09/05/2010 - 07:59 pm.

    Why do I sense a father like son theme to governor’s race?

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