It takes a village to rob the elderly (5×8 – 10/3/11)

Elderly couple losing home, Bernard Berrian tweets like he plays football, the end of Jazzman, chance-taking 101, and the wonderful world of excited electrons.


The Monday Morning Rouser. Or Rousers…

1) HOW TO RIP OFF AN OLD COUPLE

Every now and again we hear a story about a down-and-out person whose story catches the ear of some person with the ability to make their hurt go away.

It’d be great if Ruben Rosario’s story in the Pioneer Press about an elderly couple losing their home is one of them.

World War II veteran Joseph Hernandez , 93, and his 83-year-old-wife Stella, paid their dues in their life but they also have the misfortune of having a grandson who got them to sign their name on some papers and then reportedly forged his way to $300,000 in loans against the home. The loans were never repaid.

The couple made some mistakes, not following through on court-ordered mediation with Freddie Mac, which owns the mortgages now. That’s not surprising. Stella, who suffers from a brain tumor and diabetes, takes care of her husband, who has dementia.

Proceedings to take their home started last month.

“It sounds like a sad story,” a Freddie Mac spokesman told Rosario.

“Setting aside who’s at fault, there is just something really wrong about an elderly couple dealing with something like this at the end of their lives,” Rosario correctly notes.

If the country wasn’t so consumed with Amanda Knox, maybe the Hernandez family (and thousands like them) could get a little attention.

Housing in 2011: People who lost their homes in the flooding in Pennsylvania earlier this year are having a difficult time finding shelter, the Associated Press reports. All of the housing available has been snatched up by workers in Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom.

2) BERNARD BERRIAN TWEETS LIKE HE PLAYS FOOTBALL

Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian had a Twitter meltdown last night that’s probably going to cost him. Berrian, widely regarded as a “bust” since his arrival on the Vikings, complained that he’s been open but hasn’t been getting the ball.

That’s when John Kriesel of Cottage Grove jumped in…

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… to which Berrian responded…

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Open mouth, insert foot. Kriesel is state Rep. John Kriesel of the Minnesota Legislature. That’s the same legislature that Zygi Wilf is trying to woo into supporting public funding of a new stadium, and the same Kriesel whose name is listed as a co-author on a stadium bill, a fact that others — not named Bernard Berrian — knew.

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Back to you, Mr. Berrian:

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Berrian also offered that members of his family were also in the military, then said Kriesel “shouldn’t have opened his mouth. Especially bout something he knows nothing about.”

Another fan suggested Berrian show more respect to a fan and a legislator, but Berrian demurred, saying respect is earned.

A member of the media from Sioux Falls, David Brown, jumped on…

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Earning this from Berrian…

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… ending with this smackdown.

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In the Vikings’ loss yesterday, Berrian caught one pass for 20 yards, only the second pass he’s caught this season of the 16 that were tossed his way.

Somewhat related: What if all the Internet trolls ended up on a talk show?

3) THE END OF JAZZ MAN

Something is different at the University of Minnesota this year. Rob Thompson, who drove the Campus Connector while blaring jazz on his bus, is gone after 12 years. “He wanted to try something different,” a spokesperson for the bus company said of a transfer elsewhere.

“The times on [Thompson’s] bus can’t be remade. They were always fun, and they were always a way to escape for a few minutes,” senior Kyra Underbakke told the U Daily. “He went above and beyond his job as a bus driver.”

Thompson told the newspaper he likes his new route, which is in Brooklyn Center, because it’s more of a routine. But he’s not allowed to play any jazz.

4) CHANCE TAKING 101

Ryan Emerson of North Carolina paddled through the Twin Cities the other day. He’s spending the next two months paddling the length of the Mississippi River. A lot of his equipment got ripped off at the start of his trip, but a sporting goods store replaced it.

Emerson is blogging his trip here.

“A lot of people say to me, ‘I wish I could do that,'” Emerson told KSAX TV. “The chance is there, you just have to take it.”

Discussion point: What chance “was there” that you wish you’d taken?

5) THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF EXCITED ELECTRONS

Plasma from grapes. And what is plasma, anyway?

TODAY’S QUESTION

Because of new limits on the fees banks can charge merchants, several large banks are about to start charging customers a monthly fee for using their debit cards. Today’s Question: Will new fees for the use of debit cards prompt you to change your banking habits?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Turning thought into action would appear to be the stuff of science fiction. But at Brown University’s Donoghue Lab, researchers have created sensors that allow victims of paralysis to convert their intentions into computer commands. Could mind control be far behind?

Second hour: Mark Stephens, former counsel for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: U.S. ambassador to Morocco Sam Kaplan and his wife, Sylvia, talk about life and diplomacy in North Africa.

Second hour: New American RadioWorks documentary, ” Some College, No Degree: Why So Many Americans Drop Out of College and What to Do About It.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A preview of the upcoming term of the Supreme Court. Plus, Claire Danes, on her latest role, hunting terrorists,

Second hour: Life after prostate surgery.

  • milojo

    #4 – I took a chance back in the early 90s when I was in my mid-20s…and it was fantastic. I quit my crappy job and took off for 6 weeks to drive to Alaska via the AlCan Hwy. My two friends and I filled the car (Toyota Corolla) with food, camping gear, some maps, and a calling card so I could let my parents know I was still alive every couple weeks.

  • Mitch

    Lightning is plasma. Stars are plasma. My TV is plasma. That doesn’t help explain what plasma is at all, does it.

  • JackU

    Here is wikipedia’s entry on Plasma.

    Basically it’s considered a fourth state of matter because of the ionization that occurs. Ionization is the act of loosing or gaining electrons so that an atom is no longer neutral. Water naturally ionizes and adding things to it can knock that out of balance. (Acids and bases) Metals can ionize when reacted with other metals or nonmetallic substances (Oxidation/Reduction or Electrochemistry).

    When a gas becomes highly ionized, to the point where it can conduct a charge, it is often labeled as plasma. The plasma balls that they sell are a static generator in the midst of a gas mixture (usually a combination of neon and argon) that when the static generator sparks it ionizes the gas and creates plasma. The glass on these devices is conductive so the system “air grounds” until someone touches it and then it grounds to the person “attracting” the charge stream to your finger.

  • lj

    i loved the jazzman when I went to the U! he was the greatest thing about taking the bus!

  • John P II

    Interesting that Tom Scheck’s piece on the Berrian vs Kriesel twitter dust-up (“sit down and shut up”) included the information about Kriesel’s military service and loss of legs. Some speculation in the comments whether or not that was relevant to the story.

  • Kassie

    Clearly the couple in the first story need someone to take care of them. He has dementia and she is sick also, so they shouldn’t be living alone, or should at least have someone watching over them. When it was discovered they had been taken for $300k, why didn’t someone else in the family step in? When they reported it to the police the police would have gotten them a social worker. My guess it was never reported to the police.

    I don’t think we should expect major corporations to take care of people who should either be taking care of themselves or having family take care of them. This is a sad story, but I don’t blame Freddie Mac for this. Every story of someone losing their house is a sad story. And is seems the couple would be best living somewhere else anyhow since they are unable to make and follow through with basic decisions for their own welfare.

  • tboom

    Kassie,

    I don’t blame Freddy Mac either, however life sometimes takes some turns and I guess I see things differently.

    The Hernandez’s made one big mistake they trusted their grandson, a mistake many of us in the same situation would likely make. Perhaps as you suggest they would be better off elsewhere, but better off isn’t necessarily happy. As the Hernandez’s approach the end of life, happy might be better than “better off”. I agree with Bob, I’d like to see somebody emerge with the ability to take their hurt away, it’s a long-shot.

  • Ray

    The first story is complete bunk.

    I have known the family for decades. Stella has long had a spending habit that forced her son to bail her out time and time again. Sadly, the grandson tried to help, and ended up burned by her, too. The Twin Cities story has more holes than Swiss cheese.

    It pains me to see good people to have their name dragged through the mud. This is simply the chickens come home to roost.