These folks have become a big deal. Jim Buchta of the Strib reports: “HomeServices of America, the Twin Cities-based owner of Edina Realty and the second-largest real estate company in the U.S., is on a roll. The company said that it has acquired Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors, the fifth largest standalone brokerage in the county. The deal includes PFR’s subsidiary, The Trident Group, which includes Trident Mortgage Company, Trident Insurance and Trident Land Transfer Company. The deal is the biggest yet for HomeServices, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, as it embarks on what is expected to be a banner year for acquisitions.Terms were not disclosed. Prudential Fox & Roach is headquartered in Philadelphia and is the largest brokerage in the Tri-State region of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and is the largest single-market residential real estate brokerage in the U.S..”
There’s a very sad story here … Ben Dunsmoor of KELO-TV out in South Dakota reports: “Nine months after a hunter made a grim discovery authorities have tracked down the mother of the two full-term fetuses that were found in a Deuel County shelter belt. The remains were found on November 2, 2012 less than two miles away from the Minnesota border. Attorney General Marty Jackley says the mother lives in Minnesota. Last December the Deuel County Sheriff put out a call for help after the remains were found in the rural tree grove. … Jackley won’t provide many other details but credits the work of Minnesota and South Dakota investigators for finding the mother.”
And this one is nearly as bad … The AP says: “The mayor of a small community in northwestern Minnesota is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from his sister, who has Down syndrome and is a resident of an assisted-living facility. Aaron Wittnebel is charged in Becker County with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and failure to provide care. The 32-year-old mayor is his sister’s guardian and conservator of her estate. The Divine House in Detroit Lakes notified county officials in 2012 that Wittnebel was more than $6,000 behind in payment for his sister’s care.”
The answer is: “No. She didn’t know no one had called to check his references.” Steve Brandt of the Strib says: “Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Wednesday that she was unaware when she hired Patrick Exner as the short-lived principal of Washburn High School that the district hadn’t spoken with his previous supervisor. ‘That’s a basic part of a reference check,’ Johnson said in her first public comments on the incident. The Star Tribune reported this week that school district personnel officials didn’t interview Exner’s boss at Ubah Medical Academy, Musa Farah.”
Stribber Jim Spencer continues to follow the, in this case, non-action over those exorbitant swipe fees banks have been charging: “A federal judge lashed out at the Federal Reserve Wednesday for dragging its feet on his order to lower fees financial institutions are allowed to charge on debit card transactions. Two weeks ago, Judge Richard Leon ruled that the Fed inflated so-called ‘swipe fees’ allowances far beyond the limits envisioned by Congress when it passed Wall Street reform laws in 2010. The Fed staff had recommended a fee limit of 12 cents per transaction, but the Fed board raised the amount to 21 cents. In the days since his ruling, the judge clearly expected the Fed to make the swipe fee case a much higher priority than it did. … Leon’s impatience stems from the fact that he left the existing fee limits in place temporarily to avoid disruptions in business and to keep financial institutions from returning to pre-reform unlimited fee schedules. … According to experts, swipe fees totaled $16.2 billion in 2009, the year before reform.”
You don’t want your friends calling you a “bee killer,” do you? Dan Gunderson of MPR reports: “Back yard gardeners who plant bee-friendly plants and flowers may actually be killing bees. A new report released today by Friends of the Earth, showed that plants purchased at large retailers can contain insecticides toxic to bees and other insects. … Neonicotinoids are neuro-active, meaning they work by blocking connections in the insect’s brain. They are also systemic in plants; rather than being sprayed on the surface of a plant, they are applied to seeds or soil and the chemicals are then absorbed by the plants as they grow. So the insecticide is in the leaves, flowers and pollen. If a bug takes a bite of a plant, it gets a dose of insecticide. Because bees have one of the largest brains in the insect world, they have more neuro-transmitters and are more susceptible to this particular kind of insecticide.”
Not that I’ve ever watched it … But Jess Fleming of the PiPress says: “The Twin Cities finally has a contestant on one of the most respected cooking competition shows, Bravo’s ‘Top Chef.’ Chef Sara Johannes is executive chef at Shoyu, the Japanese noodle and sushi shop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It was announced Wednesday that she is one of 18 contestants on the show’s 11th season, which takes place in New Orleans. Johannes was initially a theater major at the University of Minnesota, but ended up getting a degree in culinary arts from St. Paul College.” Did she ever work with Stan Mayslack?
I get the feeling this will go on until there’s some sort of grand public vindication for him. City Pages’ Kevin Hoffman, still on the Laura Brod “boudoir” photo, writes: “U of M Regent Laura Brod knew as early as January 11 that a boudoir photo of her had been leaked, and that same day ruled out running for higher office on Twitter, although she did not explain why at the time. … emails provided to City Pages by a source who requested anonymity make clear that the photo was originally leaked January 11. A source provided this email to City Pages, dated January 10, which shows the original Laura Brod boudoir photo before it was filtered, watermarked, and put on Tumblr.” And the offending device? A Palm Treo 700p. I know … it’s like something out of one of those Bourne movies.
If only all sports “reporting” were this entertaining … and honest. On the snarky sports site, Deadspin, last night was writer Drew Magary’s moment to discuss “Why Your Team Sucks” … Vikings-style. A couple gems: “FULL DISCLOSURE: The Vikings are my favorite team. But trust me: I hate them. I hate them so very, very much. There’s nothing I hate more, or more intimately, than the things I love the most. … Out of all the fanbases in this division, we are the worst. By far. It’s not even close. Lions fans are loyal. Packers fans are insane. Bears fans are fun. And we suck. We are the Atlanta of upper Midwest sports fan groups. The second the Vikings dip even a hair below .500, they have trouble selling tickets. … There are thousands of Packers fans in Minnesota. There are NO Vikings fans in Wisconsin. … from a football standpoint, we have a talented roster and a QB who will likely be unseated by Matt Cassel sometime in the next three months. … The old stadium has a garbage bag for a roof. The new joint will have a CLEAR garbage bag for a roof. My life is a waste. I hate this team. You betcha.”