The headline-grabbing, credibility-crushing clusterfuck that is the Metro Gang Strike Force came to an unceremonious end last week.
The first sign that the embattled unit wouldn't live to see this week came Friday, when Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek held a press conference to announce he was pulling his officers.
"The Metro Gang Strike Force is done," he told reporters. "Not because I say so, but because no one has any trust in the Metro Gang Strike Force now or in the future. Ask the average person and they get it. There's no credibility."
Soon after, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion dropped the other shoe: He was permanently shutting it down—including the interim gang-fighting unit that had been scheduled to activate this week.
The unit's ignominious end comes after weeks of damaging revelations about possible corruption and lack of oversight. In May we learned that the Strike Force had no safeguards to account for highly valuable (read: tempting) evidence seized in the field—think jewelry, drugs, cash, and especially cars—which triggered a probe by the state auditor. Hearing this, a handful of Strike Force officers hightailed it to their New Brighton headquarters and shredded documents. This attracted the attention of the FBI, which is now in the midst of an investigation of its own.
There was also the revelation last week that the chairman of the Gang Strike Force's oversight board was taking advantage of his position. Manila "Bud" Shaver allegedly used his badge to try to get his daughter's no-good boyfriend busted, as well as to protect a car that may have been used in a home invasion—the kind of automotive property his boys routinely seized from criminals without a friend on the force. (Shaver declined comment.)
But fear not, good citizens. Shuttering the Strike Force likely won't lead to a crime wave. It turns out that the officers mostly just harassed drug dealers and took their stuff, rather than doing the hard work of investigating, arresting, and prosecuting.
"How people can take police action and not write a report—that's what befuddles me," Campion said. —Matt Snyders
Jacques Lemaire's homecoming
Jacques Lemaire will be returning to the Xcel Energy Center on January 2, but this time, as an adversary.
Last week, we noted that the former Wild head coach had returned to the New Jersey Devils, the team he coached to a Stanley Cup. At the time, the NHL had yet to release the 2009-10 schedule, so although we knew the Devils would play the Wild, we didn't know if it would be home or away.
We still have few details on what kind of reception will greet Lemaire, but it certainly sounds like the Wild is planning something. "They're just starting to work the promotional schedule," says spokesman Ryan Stanzel. "Won't know for a bit." —Kevin Hoffman
Pat Buchanan's Minnesota
If there's one way to truly prove yourself to be a white male bigot, Pat Buchanan nailed it straight on the head last week on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show.
Maddow and Buchanan were debating the merits of Sonia Sotomayor's U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Buchanan is convinced she is not qualified and was nominated because she is Latina. Oh, and she only got to the place she is in life by taking the spots of more deserving white folks.
One of his other points: When he looks at a U.S. hockey team that is all white males from Minnesota, he doesn't consider that discrimination. Just like he doesn't consider the nearly all-white U.S. Supreme Court to be. Totally the same thing. —Emily Kaiser
Minnesota's luv guv?
America's new favorite guessing game is "Which governor is banging a hooker?"
The speculation began after Sunday's Daily News reported that a prostitute who serviced Eliot Spitzer claims she also had sex with a mystery governor.
"He was very appreciative, like I was giving him a sort of affection he wasn't getting elsewhere," said the sex worker, using the assumed name "Annie." "Later I found out he was married. His wife is quite prominent in her own right."
Which led Gawker to "speculate recklessly" about which governor it might be, including Minnesota's own Tim Pawlenty, which the gossip site put at 75-1 odds.
Gawker is missing an important detail, however: Pawlenty's wife Mary wouldn't be considered "prominent" by any stretch of the imagination (although T-Paw did once joke about not being able to get her to have sex with him, which fits with the whole hooker thing).
The mystery luv guv is clearly Ah-nold. Now can we move on? —Kevin Hoffman
When a Twin Cities man was told he couldn't bring his one-year-old son into the bar while he chugged a couple of cold brews, he thought of the next best thing: leave his kid alone in his truck and drink at the bar anyway.
Police say the 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after an officer found the child alone in the car while the man was drinking in the bar.
We can't think of a better man to win a father of the year award.
Police say the man came to Champion's Sports Bar and Grill on West Lake Street Friday with his son in tow. The bouncer and off-duty cop told him he couldn't bring the boy in. The man allegedly left the bar and came back to the establishment 30 minutes later without his son.
The officer got a little suspicious and searched the parking lot. Sure enough, the one-year-old was chilling alone in the car. —Emily Kaiser