By Brian Lambert | Wednesday, April 20,2011
Another Tom Petters crony is under indictment. David Phelps of the Strib reports: “Frank Vennes, the convicted felon-turned-evangelical who steered unwitting investors to the alleged Ponzi scheme of Wayzata businessman Tom Petters, was indicted Wednesday in Minneapolis more than 2 1/2 years after his name first appeared in an FBI search warrant affidavit. Vennes, 53, of Stuart, Fla., was indicted along with two Florida fund managers, David W. Harrold, 51, of Del Ray Beach, and Bruce F. Prevost, 51, of Palm Beach Gardens. Each defendant faces four counts of securities fraud related to the $3.65 billion scheme. Vennes also faces an additional charge of money laundering. Harrold and Prevost co-founded Palm Beach Capital Management, which served as the investment adviser for four Palm Beach hedge funds.” There’s a distinctive personality profile to these guys, isn’t there?
The double suicide of two Marshall-area 14-year-olds last weekend has drawn the interest of ABC News. But there’s a little discordancy in the video report (from KFYY-TV) it has attached to its story. The former dismisses issues of bullying while the story emphasizes is it as a likely motoivator. “The bodies of best friends Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz, both 14, were discovered Saturday by Fentress’ mother, Tracy Morrison. Haylee’s aunt, Robin Settle, said the girl had recently moved to the rural town of Lynd, Minn., and had complained to her family that she felt ostracized and bullied. Settle also said there are indications that the girls had planned their deaths for a long time, even including funeral details in a good-bye note. ‘I’m shocked and I’m mad and I’m sad…I don’t understand the mentality of kids torturing other kids, kids having to go through this. They don’t think they have anywhere to go to,’ Settle told ABC News.com.”
But then, half can’t name the big body of water off California, eitheR. A CBS News story reports on a new Pew poll in which…53 percent of those asked…could not name any of the possible GOP candidates for president. “The lack of knowledge about the several potential Republican candidates could account for Donald Trump’s recent rise in the polls. The business magnate and television personality already benefited from widespread name recognition, and in recent weeks he has dominated news headlines with his presidential flirtation. Twenty-six percent of Americans surveyed by Pew named Trump as the candidate they’ve heard the most about lately — a larger portion than those who named Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty combined. The poll suggests the public knows little about the potential GOP candidates because they lack interest and because of relatively little news coverage on the subject.”
T-Paw gave an interview to Jon Ralston of KSNV-TV out in Vegas. The highlight was his (continued) insistence that he left Minnesota “with a surplus.” Politico’s Kendra Marr jumps in and writes: “Pawlenty on Wednesday defended his fiscal record, arguing Minnesota’s $5-billion projected deficit is not his fault. The former governor… said he left the state with cash on hand. ‘The two years that end during my watch, which is this summer, is going to end in the black, in a surplus,’ he said. ‘So my time in office is going to end in a surplus. The next projected deficit assumes a 27 percent increase in state spending two-year period a budget to two-year period over budget. That is ridiculous. It is outrageous. If they had just spend single-digit increases, not 27 percent, they wouldn’t even have a deficit. It’s a complete fiction. It is a government out of control on autopilot.’” Ground control to Capt. Pawlenty, we’re getting an error signal in your on-board reality meter.
We are only barely above average when it comes to giving up landlines and going completely cellular. An AP story today says: “Estimates released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are that about 24 percent of adults nationally live in wireless-only households. For Minnesota, the estimate is about 25 percent, within the survey’s margin of error. Adults living in the Twin Cities metro area are somewhat more likely to have cut the cord than adults in the rest of Minnesota. Only about 9 percent of Minnesota adults still live in landline-only households. Homes in Greater Minnesota are more likely to be landline only than those in the metro area.”
OMG. The texting and driving thing is so out of control. So the authorities are going crack down on it…tomorrow. Mike Longaecker of the Woodbury Bulletin reports: “The state’s Department of Public Safety announced that distracted driving will be the ‘total focus of law enforcement’ all day Thursday. ‘This isn’t something to be taken lightly,’ Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said during a press conference held today at East Ridge in Woodbury. ‘When you’re behind the wheel, you need to be focused on driving.’ Nearly 400 agencies will step up patrols around Minnesota, ticketing drivers who exhibit distracted driving behavior — a leading factor in Minnesota’s crashes. Twenty percent of all Minnesota crashes stemmed from distracted driving, according to the state.”
Now that is an ugly fish. A bighead carp caught in the St. Croix is a bad omen. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “A bighead Asian carp, an invasive species that poses serious danger to aquatic life in Minnesota, has been caught in the St. Croix River near Hastings, state conservation officials said Wednesday. The catch of the 27-pound fish was made Monday by a commercial fisherman in the St. Croix, just before it feeds into the Mississippi River, said Brad Parsons, fisheries manager for the Department of Natural Resources’ central region. This particular species of carp is not to be confused with the Asian silver carp, another type of invasive fish that for years has been made famous in videos leaping high out of the water and banging into boaters around the country.”
Don Heinzman of the ECM papers makes his plea for the Legislature to avoid tuition-increasing budget cuts to state colleges. He says: “Colleges and Universities will have to raise tuition to make up for the proposed cuts. Over the past 10 years as state aid has been cut tuitions have been going up. In the Minnesota State College and Universities system (MnSCU) back in the year 2000, the state paid two-thirds of the college costs ($549.3 million) and tuition revenue was one-third ($265 million). This year tuition amounts to 57 percent ($789.6 million) and state aid 43 percent ($605.4 million). As predicted, the MnSCU system average tuition has doubled from $2,186 in fiscal year 2000 to $4,803 in fiscal year 2011.”
Have I said lately how much I miss Denny Hecker? I’m sure Mary Jo Webster of the PiPress feels the same. She reports today: “The minister who married Denny Hecker and Christi Rowan via telephone did not violate any laws, a prosecutor investigating the case has determined. However, that does not completely settle the question of whether the marriage is legal. That’s something a judge would need to determine if someone challenged the validity in civil court — which has not happened. When the ceremony took place Feb. 22, Hecker was in jail awaiting sentencing on bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy charges. Rowan was at the Lord of Life Church in Maple Grove with the minister, two witnesses and a speakerphone. Hecker was on a phone from his cell at the Sherburne County Jail. Wynn Curtiss, a city attorney for Hopkins who investigated the matter, said state law requires that a person presiding at a marriage ceremony believe that there is no legal impediment to the ceremony. In this case, the major question was whether Hecker’s participation by telephone was illegal.” Come on. With Denny if he took a breath it was probably illegal.