Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Best Buy’s Dunn ‘Worst CEO of 2012’

Little Falls’ Smith out on bail; 54-count indictment of head shop owner; Wabasha approves sand storage facility; superintendents re-think school safety; and more.

In a Bloomberg Businessweek end-of-the-year piece, Louis Lavelle writes, “Who are the absolute worst chief executives of 2012? Sydney Finkelstein thinks he knows. The longtime professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business is the author of 11 books with such titles as Why Smart Executives Fail and Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions, so he knows a thing or two about utter failure. He’s been putting out his list for three years now, and last year it included the chief executives of Netflix, Research in Motion, and Hewlett-Packard. Here’s the list (except where noted the companies didn’t respond to a request for comment):
1. Brian Dunn, who resigned as chief executive of Best Buy in April after allegations surfaced that he had an inappropriate relationship with a much younger subordinate. That’s not why he’s on the list, though. Declining stock price, cratering same-store sales, loss of market share to more nimble competitors, and an addiction to share buybacks that cost the company $6.4 billion with little to show for it — that’s why he’s on the list.” Talk about getting kicked while you’re down …

Keep your head down, pal. The AP reports: “A central Minnesota man charged with killing two teenage cousins who broke into his home on Thanksgiving is out of jail. Morrison County jail officials say 64-year-old Byron David Smith, of rural Little Falls, posted $50,000 cash as conditional bail on Tuesday morning. His bail was originally $2 million without conditions, or $1 million with conditions. Judge Douglas Anderson cut Smith’s bail sharply Monday despite a plea by prosecutor Todd Kosovich to double or even triple it.”

There’s already been a lot of taxpayer money spent pursuing this guy. The AP says: “The owner of a Duluth head shop and three workers have been charged in a 54-count indictment accusing them of violating federal drug and regulatory laws. … The indictment was unsealed after Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, 55, of Superior, Wis., and the others made their first appearance in U.S. District Court in Duluth. The others charged include Lava Haugen, 32, of Superior, and Joseph Gellerman, 34, and Jamie Anderson, 24, both of Duluth. The indictment, filed under seal earlier this month, charges Carlson and his employees with conspiracy to violate federal regulatory laws and conspiracy to distribute controlled analogue drugs. … Randy Tigue, an attorney for Carlson, said Carlson will ‘fight this thing tooth and nail.’ “ We’ll keep the meter running …

A piece from Matthew Stole in the Rochester Post-Bulletin on area school superintendents re-thinking security, post-Sandy Hook: “Southeastern Minnesota school districts are tackling with greater urgency the question of how to keep schools and students safe in the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn. … Rochester public schools, for instance, is discussing a policy change that would require keeping all outside doors to a school locked. Visitors would have to be buzzed in to gain entry. Current district practice is to keep all doors locked during the school day except the main school entrance. Some people argue the only proper defense to a school shooting is to arm school administrators and staff with guns, but none of the superintendents interviewed regarded that as feasible or serious idea at the moment. ‘I think the problem we have now is we have too many people with guns already,’ said Rochester Superintendent Michael Muñoz in an afternoon press conference Monday.”

Article continues after advertisement

The Wabasha City Council has made a pro-business decision. Elizabeth Baier at MPR reports: “The Wabasha City Council has decided not to require Calgary-based Superior Sand Systems to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, disappointing dozens of residents and environmentalists in the region who had petitioned the state Environmental Quality Board for the review. Superior Sand Systems wants to build a silica sand storage and loading facility along the Canadian Pacific tracks on the northwest side of the Mississippi River town.”

“Not credible” is the new decision in a Deephaven nursing home sexual abuse case. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “State investigators have reversed their conclusion that an aide at a Deephaven nursing home sexually assaulted a female resident there in March, saying the accuser was found ‘not to be credible,’ according to a revised Minnesota Health Department report released Tuesday. In November, health officials said that the ‘preponderance of evidence’ had shown that the resident, who is in her mid-50s, at Lake Minnetonka Care Center had been abused twice in one evening last March. That initial finding brought a firm denial from the center’s administrator, Larry Sprinkel, who called the resident’s allegations ‘not consistent or plausible.’ Sprinkel added then that ‘this resident has made multiple unfounded accusations’ of a similar nature in the past, and he characterized her as prone to ‘manipulation’ and ‘delusions.’ ”

A transcript of the 911 call in the killing of Cold Spring officer Tom Decker has been released. Curt Brown’s Strib story says: “A noisy black van was seen heading west down Main Street the night Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker was shot, according to a transcript of 911 calls released Tuesday. ‘We need ambulance and police officers at Winners bar … come here real quick,’ the caller told 911 operators shortly after 10:47 p.m. on Nov. 29. ‘It was a black van we just saw it.’ The caller said the van was heading into the town of Cold Spring on Main Street.” So why so little attention drawn to this van until recently?

Be the first to buy in to Velo. Janet Moore of the Strib writes: “The luxury apartment boom continues to reshape Minneapolis’ downtown landscape with news Monday that a 101-unit project in the North Loop is breaking ground come spring. Opus Development Corp. said it will serve as the developer and builder on the project, which is called Vélo — the French word for bicycle and a nod to the city’s bike-friendly culture. … Vélo will be located at 103 N. 2nd St. and will also feature 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space. Now home to Merit Printing and surface parking, the site is near the proposed Whole Foods grocery store, which is anchoring another 286-unit luxury apartment complex … .” The concierge can order out for the antipasto of the day …

It is telling that the most ardent … devoted … obsessed gun advocates are men. At LeftMN, Jennifer Tudor writes: “In one way, they’re right:  guns alone don’t kill people. Our fantasies about guns kill people. Americans love the way guns make them feel:  powerful, secure, and in control. We have transferred these qualities onto our totem object, the gun. If we own a gun, the thinking goes, we can fend off criminals who might invade our homes or open fire on the streets. We could even defend ourselves against a fascist government with our arsenal of handguns, hunting rifles, and semi-automatic weapons (never mind that said government is the best-equipped fighting force in the world with access to weapons and technologies well beyond the skill and reach of an average citizen). These fantasies offer us comfort in a world that seems more dangerous than it really is.”