Over the Coals 2007


On the other hand, we recommend that you call Duluth “Paris.”
A New York marketing research firm hired by Meet Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, to help with a branding campaign for Minneapolis and St. Paul came up with the suggestion that Minneapolis and St. Paul refer to themselves in their marketing materials as Minneapolis-St. Paul.

A cool, shady (really, really shady) place, conveniently located between Brian Herron Boulevard and the Dean Zimmermann Bike Path
In May, a new, much-admired park opened along the Mississippi riverfront, next to the Guthrie Theater. It was originally going to be called McGuire Park, after former UnitedHealth Group CEO William McGuire and his wife Nadine, whose foundation donated $5 million to create and maintain the park. But when McGuire resigned in October 2006, after an internal investigation revealed that United was backdating stock options to sweeten the pot for its executives, a new name was cooked up: Gold Medal Park.

Arrested Development: the Minneapolis version
Former heir apparent Curtis Carlson Nelson left Carlson Companies and sued the corporation’s high-profile doyenne (who just happens to be his mother) because she refused to name him CEO and cut him in on the family’s huge fortune. Marilyn Carlson Nelson countersued, by claiming her son was too incompetent to run the business.

In related news: Yahoo Serious named most powerful man in hollywood
In March, Forbes.com ranked Kevin McHale as the top general manager in major professional sports. The website of the formerly esteemed business publication said it didn’t matter that McHale had never won a championship in his twelve years at the helm of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Two criteria pushed Big Mac to the top: His dramatic improvement over the horrid performance of his predecessor, “Trader” Jack McCloskey; and his narrow win in the “Separated at Birth: Herman Munster Category.”


Sometimes that old addition-by-subtraction thing doesn’t really add up
In July, the Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett, the greatest athlete in the history of Minnesota team sports, to the Boston Celtics. Afterward, Wolves owner Glen Taylor told the media that KG had asked for too much money, protected malcontents in the locker room, worked behind the scenes to get former coach Flip Saunders fired, and generally contributed to the team’s dysfunction. KG is the current favorite to win his second NBA Most Valuable Player award and take the Celts to the playoffs, while the Wolves are on a plodding track to the league’s worst record.

I never promised you a Rose Bowl … oh, wait—I did!
In January, when he was named head coach of the Gophers football team, Tim Brewster proclaimed, “Our expectation is to win a Big Ten championship now.” Later he boasted, “You’re not going to be a great salesman if you don’t have a great product … This is going to be an easy sell.” Sadly, Brewster never deviated from that script as the Gophers proceeded to go 1-11, losing more games than any team in Gopher football history.


We didn’t think that the beleaguered Northwest Airlines—which, among other catastrophic blunders in 2006, issued a pamphlet advising soon-to-be-laid-off employees to save money by Dumpster diving, renting out rooms in their houses, and popping sample prescription pills—could possibly offer up additional follies in ’07. We were wrong.

We recommend a little product Called “Airborne”—it’s effervescent!
On July 1, the airline announced that it lost $25 million in June after being forced to cancel hundreds of flights. Spokespeople said the cancellations were the result of pilots calling in sick.

Corporate welfare: Helping moguls get back on the road to happy, productive lives.
On July 31, however, the airline announced it had pulled in a $273 million pre-tax profit, a 53 percent increase from the same period in 2006.

Fee Enhancement? Is That Why We’re Getting All Those Emails?
The very next day, on August 1, the lead law firm that handled the airline’s bankruptcy case attempted to nab another $3.5 million on top of the $35.4 million it had already charged. They claimed they needed a “fee enhancement” after realizing that the airline would be able to pay back nearly seventy-five percent of its creditors. That idea didn’t fly, but lawyers took in quite a haul nonetheless in steering the airline out of its mess: twenty-two firms pulled in $124.2 million in fees and expenses.

See? Corporate welfare really does work
That was followed in late October by Northwest’s announcement about its third quarter: $244 million in net profits, which it declared its highest profit in ten years.


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