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ABC News goes after U of M relationship with TCF Bank

ABC News investigator Brian Ross drops the hammer on the relationship between the U of M and TCF Bank: “Documents obtained by ABC News surrounding the multi-million-dollar deal between the University of Minnesota and TCF Bank provide a glimpse of how expansive the agreements have become. The Minneapolis-based bank is paying the University of Minnesota more than $1 million a year to help it recruit students as customers, even offering the school bonus payments of $34 for every student that takes a TCF Bank account. A stroll around the bucolic Minneapolis campus shows what that money is buying. Incoming freshmen wear Gopher t-shirts with the bank logo on the back. On one side of the student center, across from restaurants and upstairs from the bowling alley, is a TCF Bank branch. On the other side of building is the office where student IDs, called ‘U Cards’, are dispensed. Some of the staff on hand are actually TCF Bank employees, who encourage students to merge their IDs with a TCF Bank debit card, promising ‘no-fee’, ‘virtually free’ checking accounts. Students who agree to deposit more than $50 are told they will receive a free University of Minnesota sweatshirt.”

For MPR, Alex Friedrich follows up and says: “The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the deals to see whether they’re unfair to students. The suspicion is that the big banks are heavy-handed with overdraft charges, for example, and that universities gain financially by steering students to the accounts. … News of the TCF agreement with the U isn’t anything new. MPR reported a few details — including TCF’s exclusive right to offer checking accounts accessible with the university’s photo ID card — after TCF notified more than 20 Iranian students that it would close their accounts. The Star Tribune also ran details while reporting on the bureau’s national inquiry.”

“No” was(n’t) all they said. Graydon Royce’s Strib story on Minnesota Orchestra musicians turning down the latest contract offer says: “Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra formally rejected the latest contract offer from management and reaffirmed their support for a proposal that would end the lockout and begin a four-month ‘talk-and-play’ period. ‘We do not believe that a 25 percent cut in pay keeps the Minnesota Orchestra as a world-class, major-league destination orchestra,’ said clarinetist Tim Zavadil, who heads the musicians’ negotiating team. … In a second vote, musicians unanimously urged the board of directors to reconsider a proposal put forward by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. The board rejected that plan in August.”

At MPR, Euan Kerr says: “So what’s next? ‘The ball is very firmly in the musicians’ court to return to the table with a proposal for us to discuss that acknowledges the financial challenges,’ [Orchestra CEO Michael]  Henson said. ‘We remain committed to return to that table, this afternoon, over the weekend, or at any point in the next 10 days or so to try to find a resolution.’ ‘The ball remains in their court, as it has been for over a year,’ musician representative Blois Olson said.”

It’s still a muddled picture of what exactly happened, but Twin Cities grocer Jim Kowalski died in some kind of plane-related accident in Canada. Tom Webb’s PiPress story says: “Kowalski, 67, was a registered pilot. So was the friend that Jim was traveling with in Canada, Deb Kowalski said. The two were on a fishing trip to Ontario, the plane was on the ground, and ‘when the friend who was with him heard a noise, and he was gone,’ Deb said. … Those who admired the Kowalski legacy were shocked by the news of Jim’s death. They cited his early embrace of locally grown and healthier offerings, along with a deep community involvement.”

Mike Hughlett’s Strib story says: “The accident occured in a plane as it flew over Ontario but did not involve a crash, said Deb Kowalski, a family member and Kowalski’s employee, declining to give further details. The other occupant of the plane, an old friend, was not hurt.”

The GleanBeware The Church Lady … Stribber Abby Simons says: “A former Minneapolis church worker admitted Thursday to stealing more than a quarter-million dollars from her employer over the past decade, when she helped herself to additional paychecks to pay her bills. Raenay Hendrickson, 51, of Brooklyn Park, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by swindle over $5,000 for embezzling nearly $318,000 from the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, where she had worked for 16 years as an executive assistant, synod administrator and bookkeeper, which allowed her full access to the church’s checking account, according to the Hennepin County attorney’s office.”

And someone else you might want a heads-up about … Jennifer Brooks at the Strib says: “A company on the state’s list of “trusted community organizations” is headed by a man who once brandished a shotgun at a Wisconsin deputy during a traffic stop. Bruce Lyon-Dugin is one of 30 grant recipients who could split $4 million in funding from MNsure, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace. Last year, Lyon-Dugin cut a plea deal with a Wisconsin circuit court over the 2011 incident, when he pointed a shotgun out his car window at a Lincoln County deputy who pulled him over for driving erratically. The charges against him will be wiped from his record if he completes the terms of his two-year parole but news stories about the incident and his mug shot pop up during even the most cursory Internet search. ‘I’m not going to comment on an incident a judge has already commented on, so why don’t you go read the (opinions) from the judge? That’s closed information, as far as I’m concerned’, Lyon-Dugin said, when asked about the incident.” He’s obviously part of the “I’ve moved on” crowd.

“Miss Saigon” is not so popular anymore. At MPR, Marianne Combs says: “[Sara] Ochs won’t be in the audience this fall when Miss Saigon plays at St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Instead, she and other Asian American artists will protest the production. They say the award winning musical — the 12th longest running show in Broadway history — perpetuates damning stereotypes, and glosses over the realities of human trafficking in order to pull at heart strings and sell tickets. Others, including some who will act the roles at the Ordway, see ‘Miss Saigon’ as an accurate if painful look at lives broken by the Vietnam War.”

Good news for ducks and geese … Dan Gunderson of MPR says: “Federal, state and local officials are celebrating the start of a big wetland restoration project in the Red River Valley. The $6 million project will restore more than 1,300 acres of wetlands, and several thousand acres will be set aside to hold water during spring floods, said Bruce Albright, administrator for the Buffalo Red River Watershed. … In addition to flood control, the wetland area will create waterfowl habitat, reduce pollution from farm runoff and help recharge an underground aquifer, Albright said.”

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/06/2013 - 07:19 pm.

    It Would Seem the Days When Business Leaders

    Could be trusted to be effective “community leaders” are long since gone.

    Yesterday’s business/community leaders saw the value of our community’s cultural institutions such as the Minnesota Orchestra and supported them generously. When crises arose, they dug deeper into their own pockets, and recruited their friends to do the same. Our community(ies) thrived in those days.

    Today’s leaders, on the other hand, are dedicated cheapskates who wouldn’t dream of digging deeper into their own pockets (even though they are compensated at levels which FAR EXCEED those the leaders of old ever dreamed of receiving or asking for).

    Their only response to crises that arise is based on their “I, ME, MINE, I will NEVER have enough in my own pocket” attitude. They look for scapegoats – inevitably some type of worker or their customers – and use their positions of power and prestige to destroy the incomes and/or health and well being of those who were already doing their blessed best to keep things going.

    “Leaders” such as these are the reason American business is failing. We can’t compete in the world because all the rewards of our economy are going to the dead wood at the top while we do NOTHING to nourish the roots of growth and creativity which lie beneath the American success story.

    We desperately need to find ways to cut American business loose from our own economy’s equivalent of the Communist “Central Planning Bureaus” of old: Wall Street – which works in exactly the same way to dictate to each and every publicly-held company EXACTLY what destructive and dysfunctional principles it must operate by in order to be deemed an acceptable enterprise.

    If we would save our nation and our cultural institutions, we should fire the entire CEO class, including the heads of every type of investment firm, replace EVERY member of every corporate board and bring in very well qualified and very available replacements from outside the US.

    We would immediately see American business innovation explode, resulting in worker wages keeping up with and exceeding inflation for the first time in thirty years and businesses that operated according to a moral code centered on decency, fair play, and long-term sustainability,…

    rather than the code we currently operate by in American business: what can we get away with? How can we further stuff our own already-overstuffed pockets at the expense of our employees, customers, and the US taxpayer?…

    all under the rubric, “The future doesn’t matter. I won’t be here.”

    Getting what I want, here and now, (winning) is ALL that matters.

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