In the second of a two-part investigative piece, Fox 9’s Jeff Baillon tells a compelling story about possible, serious errors in two homicide cases handled by Ramsey County Medical Examiner Michael McGee. The long-range, vignette-like camera work on McGee getting into his car is a bit much, but the challenges to his work by other credible professionals would seem like a compelling reason for him to agree to an interview, which he has not.
If the Twin Cities had the equivalent of Letterman-Leno-Conan late-night comics, they’d be on their knees thanking the Good Lord for the story of a 58-year-old soon-to-be-divorced gun rights/anti-abortion 6th District Republican politician walking back alleys packing a loaded gun while checking out the “girlfriend” he met on the Internet. On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Hackbarth went to retrieve his weapon from the cops and talked to reporters. Dave Orrick of the PiPress puts it in daily newspaperspeak, writing: “ ‘What did I do that was so bad?’ [Hackbarth] asked a reporter during an interview Tuesday. ‘According to me, all I did was go to an empty parking lot and parked my truck … walked around the block, and picked up the car and left.’ Hackbarth said he had no idea he was parking in a Planned Parenthood parking lot. A gun-rights advocate, he said he usually carries his revolver on him and emphasized that’s perfectly legal. The 58-year-old married father of three said he and his wife are separated and planning to divorce. He said the woman, whom he met through an online dating service, ‘wasn’t even a girlfriend’ and said his description to police that he was ‘jealous’ wasn’t accurate. ‘It’s not like I was really jealous, but you know how you meet this person and you really like her, and she’s saying all the right things, but you think she’s feeding you a line of bull—-? She’s giving you all this … and you want to figure out what’s going on. Well that’s what I did,” he said in a telephone interview in which he readily talked about the incident but questioned its newsworthiness. ‘Sure enough, she lied to me and I’m done with it.’ ” I love the “according to me” part.
The Strib story, by Chao Xiong includes this bit of scene-setting: “Hackbarth said he had coffee with the woman on Nov. 15, and asked her to dinner the next night but she told him she couldn’t because of a commitment she had with a female friend in Highland Park. Hackbarth said he felt that she might have been seeing a man instead, so he parked his car and walked around the block looking for her car. ‘I was not a jealous boyfriend,’ said Hackbarth, who is in the process of divorcing his wife of 25 years. ‘I was just trying to check up on her. It’s totally a misunderstanding.’ Hackbarth said that he always carries his fully loaded gun … .” Why? Because chicks dig it.
Jay Kolls, over at KSTP, gets the legislator on camera saying, “I don’t understand why this is even news.”
With the second recount in two years looking like an anticlimax in terms of duration and histrionics, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin serves up a succinct explanation for why there will be so much less circus fun this time around: “Emmer’s campaign sought, and partially won, a concession that the canvassing board reviews challenges deemed frivolous by local recount officials. Those challenges will be set aside to await further action. However, the board, whose members are Ritchie, Supreme Court Justices Paul Anderson and Davis Stras, and district judges Denise Reilly of Hennepin County and Gregg Johnson of Ramsey County, decided that those challenges ‘deemed frivolous’ would not be withdrawn from the overall vote count as the recount proceeds. As local officials recount ballots, challenges are temporarily withdrawn from the totals in the recount. By keeping frivolous challenges in the count, the board is trying to head off the kind of escalation seen in 2008 when each campaign matched the other’s challenges so they did not appear to be losing ground in the recount.”
There must be some rule of thumb for whom not to believe when a collection of lawyers all go on record denying they’re in it for the money. But that is the implausible scenario in the AP story that broke last night, where Brett Favre’s agent denies he ever offered hush money and lawyers for Jenn Sterger (the New York Jets sideline honey) deny they ever asked for any. “[Favre agent Bud] Cook replied in a statement to the AP Tuesday that there was never an intention to offer money for silence.” ‘Her manager and her lawyer have made numerous overtures to me … at least 6 between the two of them,’ Cook wrote. ‘Anyone can figure out why. The point is we were never going to pay them, we didn’t pay them and we will never pay them. Because, there is NO reason to pay them! They should consider that their attempts to negotiate privately and through the media have failed.’ Cook declined to answer further questions about the matter. Joe Conway, Sterger’s attorney, said he called Cook once to introduce himself and followed up with a letter. ‘It’s not about money. It’s about doing the right thing,’ Conway said in a phone interview.” But of course. What other reason could there be?
The head of the “Nice Guys” prostitution ring will not do jail time. The Strib’s Dave Chanen writes, “[John] St. Marie, who uses a wheelchair because of childhood polio, can move his neck and his finger on his left hand. Post-polio syndrome forced him to retire in 2003 because he needs around-the-clock health care, said [his attorney Jim] Dahlquist. The deal was made before an upcoming settlement conference with the Ramsey County attorney’s office, which handled the case because of St. Marie’s employment with Hennepin County. A key consideration in making the deal was the great expense to taxpayers to incarcerate him, said Paul Gustafson, spokesman for the county attorney’s office.”
You’ve heard all the jokes about the sausage factory. Now we’ve got undercover video from the turkey plant. Paul Walsh of the Strib files a story about a Humane Society plant filming “acceptable” industry practices at the giant Willmar Poultry operation, and guess what — it ain’t pretty. “An investigator whom the society sent to work undercover for 11 days last month at Willmar Poultry Co., the nation’s largest turkey hatchery, captured video images of practices that included workers tossing sick, injured or surplus animals into grinding machines while still alive. Willmar said much of what the video shows is acceptable industry practice but acknowledged that some of its employees’ actions appear to ‘violate the company’s animal welfare policies.’ ” Their what policies? I thought the birds were raised to be, you know, slaughtered and eaten.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann granted an “exclusive interview” with juuust slightly right of far right Newsmax TV and repeated several of her most popular assertions. “Bachmann is a tax attorney by profession who formerly worked for the U.S. Treasury Department. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, she was asked about the Bush tax cuts, which Democrats want to extend for the middle class and Republicans want for all taxpayers. ‘The best thing to do is not increase anyone’s taxes,’ Bachmann says. ‘Unfortunately, President Obama’s wish list is to have a massive increase in taxes. We want to make sure no one has an increase in taxes, because for instance just in my district alone if we fail to extend these current tax rates we’re going to lose 2,000 jobs. I don’t think it serves anyone’s interest if we take $1.2 billion out of my district and put it in the hands of politicians in Washington. Let’s keep it back home where it will do some good.’ ” There’s probably a reason why no independent accountant has corroborated the congresswoman’s numbers.
The Business Journal’s John Vomhof Jr. reports that Southdale is close to getting Herberger’s to take over the long-vacant space last occupied by Mervyn’s. You have to subscribe to get the full story.
The mystery over whether Denny Hecker tried to sneak through a jailhouse marriage to his girlfriend, Christi Rowan (who would be his fifth wife, the lucky gal) remains unsettled. The PiPress’ John Welbes reports: “[The Rev. Peter Geisendorfer-Lindgren said] he had handed his card to a federal agent when he arrived … so agents knew who he was. When asked if he was there to marry Hecker and Rowan, he declined comment. Geisendorfer-Lindgren said Hecker wants to get married, and that ‘there was no intent to go around somebody’s back, certainly not on my part. And there won’t be in the future.’ ” Note to the good Reverend, a simple, emphatic “no” is probably the best response if you weren’t there to perform a marriage.