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Cook County attorney, 46, ordered to stay away from girl, 17

Talk about a story with a completely separate layer … The AP reports: “A Minnesota prosecutor who entered the public eye after he was wounded in a courthouse shooting a year ago has been accused of an improper relationship with a teenage girl. Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell was ordered by a judge Tuesday, Dec. 4, to stay away from the girl, now 17, and her parents after the parents sought a restraining order. In their petition, the parents described Scannell, 46, as a longtime family friend who told them in September that he had fallen in love with the girl. They said he promised to stop communicating with her, but continued to text and call her and send mail and packages.”

Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “The girl’s mother said that Scannell came to her place of employment on Sept. 25 and told her he loved her daughter and that his relationship with her became physical over the summer with “kissing and touching, but nothing illegal.” The age of consent in Minnesota is 16. The petition states that the mother said that while Scannell was at her workplace he texted the girl and read the mother some of the love poetry he sent the girl. … He said they talked about having children together some day, but they decided he would be too old. He said that they planned for her to go to college in the Twin Cities area so that he could visit her, and later they would move to Australia together. … The woman asked Scannell how he would feel if she were to begin a romantic relationship with his son. He laughed and said that was ridiculous. She asked how his relationship with her daughter was any different than the criminal sexual conduct cases he had prosecuted. He laughed and said that he wasn’t ‘picking (the girl) up in the alley behind Holiday.’ The woman said she encouraged Scannell to seek treatment, according to the petition. She said he responded: ‘She’s 17, she can make her own decisions, it’s not like she’s 11 or 14.’ He said the relationship was not about sex, since he could get that anywhere.” What exactly is in the water up in Grand Marais?

Last chance for gargoyles … Richard Chin of the PiPress says: “The garden gnomes, Greek goddesses and grinning gargoyles are going, going, almost gone. That’s because the king of ornamental concrete in St. Paul is going out of business. For more than 20 years, Gary Sax has cast tons of concrete planters, birdbaths, fountains and statues of all description and peddled them out of a tiny storefront called Sax Antiques on Fairview Avenue near Selby Avenue. His handiwork can be found in homes, gardens, banks, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes and institutions ranging from the Governor’s Mansion to Lauderdale City Hall to the St. Paul Saints stadium.”

Not that anyone’s looking forward to mounds of frozen, filthy slush, but … Andy Rathbun’s PiPress story on the drought says: “All of the state is abnormally dry or in some level of drought, and about 83 percent of the state is in severe or extreme drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor data released Thursday, Dec. 6. November brought drier conditions to parts of central and northern Minnesota — a large portion of which moved from moderate to severe drought. The metro area also suffered, with some suburban areas, like northern Dakota County and southern Washington County, joining the severe drought now affecting nearly all of the metro. At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, 0.63 inches of rain fell during November — 1.14 inches below what is considered normal. … Drought conditions also persist in Wisconsin, with 89 percent of the state abnormally dry or in some level of drought. Severe drought is affecting about 26 percent of the state, including much of western Wisconsin.”

Wells Fargo boss John Stumpf, a Minnesota kid, talks to Christina Rexrode of the AP: “Wells controls a third of the U.S. mortgage market, giving it by far the biggest share of any bank. The mortgage strategy has its own problems, though, including lawsuits over questionable lending. In October, for example, the Justice Department sued Wells, accusing it of misrepresenting the quality of thousands of mortgage loans that the Federal Housing Administration insured and that later defaulted. … [Here’s a portion of the exchange.]
The Justice Department recently accused your bank of mortgage fraud. What’s your response?
We think they got that wrong. Our FHA lending activity and servicing, we’ve done it in good faith, we have met the requirements that were laid out. The proof was really in the results — our portfolio performs better than others. We have a number of defenses. This is one we’re going to take on. …
You were outspoken against the idea of a standalone Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it was proposed. What do you think of the job they’ve done so far?

These are good people, and they’ve been asked to do an impossible job. I hope they get it right.”
So is the takeaway, “Since we made money, how could we possibly have broken any rules”?

On the killing of Cold Spring policeman Tom Decker, Curt Brown and Larry Oakes of the Strib say: “Although few details of that night have been released, police already may have known of the shooting, because a second officer had gone with Decker to check on a possibly suicidal man who lived above the bar. Archived emergency radio transmissions indicate that an ‘officer down’ report went over the radio at 10:47 p.m., quickly followed by an unidentified officer reporting ‘I have no idea where the suspect went.’ The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, through which all information is being routed, declined to answer questions Thursday about the shooting, including a specific query about the whereabouts of the second officer when Decker was killed and how that officer responded.” That is odd.

The GleanThat re-election run did wonders for Our Favorite Congresswoman’s presidential campaign debt. The AP says: “Michele Bachmann has dramatically reduced what had been a more than $1 million debt from her failed presidential run and she has her congressional re-election effort to thank for it. New campaign finance reports show the Minnesota congresswoman repaid more than $750,000 in presidential campaign debt by transferring it from her congressional account. More than $500,000 of that was shipped over between late October and late November. … Her debt now stands at about $170,000.” The movie rights to her book ought to cover that.

The Strib’s Jim Anderson talks to the last remaining Minnesota survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the USS Arizona. “At age 95, Edward Wentzlaff is, in time and distance, far removed from the teak deck of the battleship Arizona, where he was standing on that now-infamous cloudless Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor 71 years ago Friday. But in his tack-sharp memory, the sounds, smells, horrific sights — and the concussion from the blast of a Japanese bomb that ignited the ship’s ammunition magazine, killing 1,177 of his comrades — remain vivid and haunting. … June 1942 found him aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown in the Battle of Midway. It was a decisive American victory in the Pacific, but the Yorktown was sunk by Japanese bombs. He was among hundreds who abandoned ship before being picked up by an American cruiser.”

The Strib also has a piece by Don Jacobson on the start of renovation of the Schmidt brewery in St. Paul into apartments. “Before the developer can turn the brewery’s historic, medieval revival-style structure into scores of affordable housing units for artists, it must mount a massive remediation effort, which is getting underway this month.  It will be no small task for Dominium, the Minneapolis-based owner and developer. Given floor upon floor of asbestos-covered pipes and boilers and thick layers of peeling paint throughout the sprawling former Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co., remediation will cost more than $3 million. A key piece in moving the $100 million project forward was Dominium’s ability to cobble together clean-up grants from the Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to perform the necessary work — which is prodigious.”

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