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A Taste-less Fourth: Annual Minnesota festival bites the dust

ALSO: PiPress and Strib editorial takes, pardon politics, the push for the Democratic convention, and the Ford Ranger on a roll.

It looks like your Fourth of July plans will have one less option. Bankruptcy is the next stop for the Taste of Minnesota organizers. The Strib story, by Chris Havens, says: “[Creditors’ attorney Sam] Stern said he wants a court-appointed trustee to investigate whether the company’s partners are personally liable for repaying the debts. He said he expects more creditors to join the filing in the next 30 days, which is how much time International Event Management has to respond. Stern said any money recovered will be shared among all of the creditors, not just those who filed the bankruptcy petition. In October, the city of St. Paul booted International Event Management from Harriet Island and severed ties with the firm for not paying its bills. The city, which is not a party to the bankruptcy filing, is owed more than $110,000.”

Frederick Melo’s story for the PiPress notes Cities 97 DJ Brian “B.T.” Turner among the creditors: “ ‘We all came in as contractors, working to make a great event happen,’ said Turner, who ran a tent with a music stage and a performance kitchen spotlighting local celebrity chefs. ‘And we did make a great event happen.’ ” Albeit an event that appeared cursed from the get-go. Melo adds: “The 2010 Taste event … was quickly determined to be a bust. The company’s books are not open to the public, but creditors estimate International Event Marketing owes nearly $1 million to vendors, contractors and service providers, including $100,000 due to the city of St. Paul. Throughout the four-day festival, patrons purchased tickets to buy items from food vendors at booths, but many vendors say they were never reimbursed for the tickets after the event closed.” In hindsight, charging $30 to see Sammy Hagar probably wasn’t a great idea.

The PiPress editorializes about President Obama’s federal employees pay freeze plan and is quite enthusiastic about their government worker neighbors taking a private-sector style haircut: “The few billion dollars that Obama’s proposed two-year freeze will save won’t undo the federal deficit, any more than the millions that similar freezes here in Minnesota would save will close our state’s multi-billion-dollar gap. But billions and millions are still big money to most of us. And if we don’t have the smarts and the guts to save billions and millions, how in the world will we ever get to trillions?” And the page’s deep thinking on the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts is … what?

The Strib’s take is to separate the middle class from the very upper class, tax-wise. (Note to Strib: In fundamental economic terms, I believe that has been fully accomplished already.) The paper editorializes: “By dawdling this fall and more recently backing an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all but those who earn more than $1 million a year, the Democrats lost any strategic advantage they may have had before the election. Unlinking the tax brackets — a proposal that admittedly never gained traction in Congress — is not likely to surface now. The best-case scenario now seems to be that all of the cuts will be extended for two years and, at the same time, Democrats will win approval for an extension of unemployment benefits.”

Mike Mulcahy blogs at MPR’s “Capitol View” site on the latest dudgeon from state GOP chair Tony Sutton. Says Sutton: “”After overseeing an unprecedented 400,000 vote error on election night, Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith today tried to change the rules in the middle of game to advance the interests of Mark Dayton.’ ” And: “Smith’s maneuvering sends a chilling signal to all Minnesotans who believe in fair play for all sides. Instead of expediting the recount, Smith’s machinations have only served to slow things down.” Which leads Mulcahy to note: “Smith has been saying it’s the Emmer side that has been slowing down the recount by frivolously objecting to ballots that are clearly votes for Dayton.”

Since Democrats have never had the equivalent of a Lee Atwater, Gov. Pawlenty probably shouldn’t worry too much about suffering a Willie Horton-Michael Dukakis episode. But he is working pretty hard to tamp down reaction to his pardon of that sex offender. Pat Doyle of the Strib continues to file on this: “In calling for a perjury investigation, Pawlenty noted that applicants for pardons must swear that they have been law-abiding since finishing their sentence, ‘and [Jeremy Giefer] indicated under oath that he had been. … [If the new allegations are true] that was obviously a lie and may well have constituted perjury or another form of fraud.’ ” I know we are all SO shocked that a sex offender would lie at a pardon hearing … 

For the record, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined Mark Dayton in officially recommending Minneapolis as the site for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. MPR’s Tom Scheck reports that the three wrote: “[P]lease keep in mind that history shows the national political convention site doesn’t necessarily influence the outcome of the election. In fact, only half the time has the state in which the DNC was hosted, went for the Democratic Party in the general election. The objective now is to select a city that will establish the proper political setting for the 2012 election. With this in mind, we firmly believe Minneapolis is the best choice for the Democratic Party. Located in the country’s heartland, Minnesota is often on the list of swing states and winning the heartland has proven to be a key region in many presidential elections.” Uh huh. But winning Ohio (home to another finalist, Cleveland) is still a bigger deal than winning Minnesota.

Pat Kessler’s e-mail will be interesting today. Last night’s “Reality Check” question was: “What Did the Bailout Cost Taxpayers?” “The Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, is now almost completely paid back. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the $700 billion Wall Street bailout will end up costing taxpayers about $25 billion. That’s roughly the cost of six months of unemployment benefits. That’s NOT THE WHOLE STORY. TARP also provided funds to struggling American car companies, including General Motors. GM raised $20 billion last month in a public stock offering, cutting taxpayers’ stake in the company from 66 percent to 33 percent.” I know quite a few people who don’t appreciate “reality” from the mainstream press.

Girlfriend Christi Rowan has obviously learned a thing or two from Denny Hecker about, shall we say, indifferent compliance to court orders. Bankruptcy judge Robert Kressel didn’t hide his exasperation Wednesday. Dee DePass’ Strib story says: “Rowan’s attorney, Seamus Mahoney, took a tongue-lashing from the judge for dropping off a pile of unsigned documents just “five minutes before” Wednesday’s hearing. The documents did not provide the accounting Kressel had previously demanded. Instead, her documents disputed some of the amounts that Hecker had previously given the judge. ‘What the heck is this’? a disgusted Kressel asked Mahoney while wagging the stack of papers at him. ‘This is a bunch of stuff … that is not complying with my order.’ ” DePass continues, writing: “If Rowan fails to show, U.S. marshals will come after her, Kressel said as a slightly blanched Rowan nodded that she understood. ‘This is a game of dodgeball being played by Mr. Hecker and Ms. Rowan,’ Kressel said. ‘This has gone on too long.’ ” Not for the spectators it hasn’t.

Let’s hear it for the Ranger! Ford’s little truck saw a 16 percent year-to-year sales increase in November. John Vomhof Jr. (who appears to write everything in the Business Journal) reports: “Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford … sold 3,802 Ranger pickup trucks last month, up from 3,271 in November 2009. So far this year, the automaker has sold 51,093 Rangers, four fewer than at the same time a year ago.”  Meanwhile, auto websites have offered up pictures of the completely remodeled Asian/Global Ranger. Here is a YouTube video of a glitzy press introduction from Ford. But apparently it won’t be sold in the USA.

And finally, Brett Favre says, “This is it.” Which could mean he won’t play next year, or that he found the screw he was looking for in his shop drawer. Meanwhile the New York Daily News reports the NFL may conclude its investigation into the quarterback’s sexting-while-wearing-Crocs habits as early as next week: “The NFL should finish its investigation into the X-rated photos and voicemails Brett Favre allegedly sent to TV personality Jenn Sterger soon, perhaps as early as next week, a source familiar with the probe told the Daily News. The source said the league’s investigators have interviewed all the witnesses and reviewed the evidence they’ve gathered in the course of the
probe …”

Brian Lambert blogs at TheSameRowdyCrowd.