Tim Pawlenty, Denny Hecker, and animal poop

One leaves, one vows to return, and one stinks

Gov. Tim Pawlenty made at least one of his long-term plans clear last week: He won't seek a third term as the state's leading man.

"When it comes to how long someone should stay in an elected position, a little less is better than too much," Pawlenty said. "It's a lesson I learned spending time in places like the Croatian Hall in South St. Paul, where there is inevitably less joy and more trouble in too much pizza or too much beer."

Looking back on his time in office so far, which doesn't end for another 19 months, Pawlenty said he was most proud of his ability to limit spending and keep taxes down. He told Minnesotans he will "finish strong" and stay focused on state issues.

When asked, several times, if he plans to run for president, he said, "I don't have plans beyond serving out my term...[but I'm] not ruling anything in or out."

The announcement was no shock to anyone who expects Pawlenty has his eyes set higher, or realizes he would have a slim chance at reelection if he tried.

We haven't seen the last of Pawlenty. His lame-duck status could either be a blessing or his downfall if he hopes to run for president in 2012.

Internet vampyre

The former "vampyre" who ran for governor in 2006 has pleaded guilty to harassing a teen through email after she tried to end their online relationship.

John Albert Sharkey, who called himself "The Impaler," ran on the Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans ticket. In an interview with City Pages during his campaign, he said if President Bush were convicted of murder for the war in Iraq, he would personally impale him.

Sharkey, 44, was sentenced to 90 days in prison for emails sent to a 15-year-old girl in 2007.

The girl had originally sent him a MySpace message of support, which led to them dating online. She tried to end it two weeks later, but Sharkey continued to harass her through email. Some of the emails even threatened harm to the girl's family and friends, including decapitation.

Life in Heck

The fall of Denny Hecker continues with the news last week that he has filed for personal bankruptcy as his auto empire in Minnesota crumbles.

But this isn't the last chapter for Hecker, who says he is just turning a page on a new part of his life.

The filing follows a list of other bad news for the car-dealership mogul. Late last year, he had his funding yanked by his chief financer, Chrysler Finance. He filed suit, closed six dealerships, and sold three others. Then he got into a mean car accident and we learned that Hecker's bloodstream is a mobile pharmacy.

In his personal bankruptcy protection filing with the federal court Thursday, he listed assets between $50 million and $100 million, with liabilities of $500 million to $1 billion. Creditors have been after him for more than $500 million following judgments against him.

Felonious food fight

It's officially no fun to be a kid anymore. First we reported that one teen faces a felony charge for egging a house. Now we have the unfortunate job of reporting that five students were arrested at a Wisconsin high school for starting and participating in a food fight.

As police carted the food-tossing students out of the school in handcuffs, the teens received a standing ovation from their peers. That's what we're talking about.

The students had planned the food fight as a fun end-of-the-school-year prank. They brought a bunch of yogurts and had them all ready to fly.

Straight poop

This wasn't the kind of site we expected to be digging around while eating breakfast, but we did it. And we now have a whole new appreciation for zoo employees who pick up animal poop every day. Looking at it online was enough for us.

The Minnesota Zoo is publicizing its Africa exhibit with a website about poop. Visitors get to test their skills identifying the poop of a giraffe, an ostrich, and a zebra. We couldn't be luckier. 

 
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