BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD - 2004
Much as we'd like to give this to some Hollywood starlet who betrayed her Minnesota roots and lost herself in a den of sin, misfortune, and bad career moves, it's time we all face facts: We don't have any celebrities here in Minnesota--at least not ones who haven't already bored us to tears. In fact, speaking of tears, the closest we came this year to bringing anything fresh to the wide world of fame was Catie, an 18-year-old from Willmar who had an absolute duct-filled fit in nearly every scene of America's Next Top Model. Boo hoo. Which brings us to Patricia Anderson. Never heard of her? Well, she is Minnesota's state auditor, and that's about as close to famous as we get these days. Of course, you may remember her as Pat Awada, the onetime feisty mayor of Eagan who was considered by many to be a rising star in the local Republican Party. Ever since she campaigned for statewide office in 2002, Anderson's had a series of tumbles. First, there was her insistence that her maiden name, Anderson, be placed on the general election ballot, which many viewed as a cynical move to capture votes in the land of 10,000 Swedes. Then last spring, shortly after the new auditor took office, Walter Awada, an in-law and a St. Paul bar owner, was indicted on federal gambling and money-laundering charges (he was later convicted on six of 14 offenses). About a month later, the Awadas were in the news because the auditor's husband, Michael, was charged with hitting their teenage son with a chair during an argument. By the summer, our state auditor was embroiled in a telecom scandal that involved the governor, a Republican crony, and a business she once owned. By September, the Awadas were separated, and divorced in December. In January, the auditor announced that she was going back to her birth name, no doubt hoping that 2004 is better to Patricia Anderson than 2003 was to Pat Awada.