Two days behind in my email; please be patient with me.

Well, that trip to Tucson was wonderful. Whatever tan I may have acquired is just about gone already, sad to say. And if the economy is getting any better, there’s sure no sign of it in my office. I am crazy busy. It took me until the end of the day on Thursday to return my calls up to what I had received by Tuesday; and right now – end of the day on Friday – I am still going through emails from Wednesday.

I am returning my calls and I am responding to my emails, but please be patient with me. I am doing my best to actually respond to everyone – eventually.

Tucson till Tuesday

I’ll be out of town between Thursday November 5th and Monday November 9th, and will be back in the office on Tuesday morning, November 10th. I’ll be attending a weekend seminar in Tucson, AZ put on by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. They provide information that I can’t get anywhere else, and every once and a while I have to take a few days to soak it up as best I can. This time I will be doing a fairly intensive course that will be mostly about Chapter 13.

I have a pretty bad cold and I hope to get over it once I get to the desert climate. The high temperature in Tucson on Thursday is supposed to be 92.

DWI Arrests Apparently Down?

I just had an opportunity to visit on the phone with one of the prosecuting attorneys for the City of Minnetonka. Somewhat to my surprise this person made a remark to the effect that over the past few weeks the number of DWI arrests is down. There was some speculation about what the reason might be, but the real answer is that nobody really knows why.

I can guess that the economy might have something to do with it. Even if people might be still drinking, doing it at home is certainly cheaper. Another issue of course is that DWI arrests have become more difficult from the point of view of the police officers, since there has been a great deal of concern lately about the accuracy of the breath test. If the officer wants a blood test, a trip to a hospital might be required. That takes a lot of extra time.

Businesses and Personal Bankruptcy

I keep saying bankruptcy is like pregnancy. You can’t be a little bankrupt. When you file a bankruptcy, you are in it 100%. It is all-encompassing.

I just got off the phone – again – from a conversation with someone who wants to do a personal bankruptcy but who is the owner or part owner of a small business. Over and over again I hear from people who seem to think that because their bankruptcy is personal, it will have absolutely nothing to do with their business. They want their business to stay in a separate compartment and be unaffected and untouched.

First thing I usually mention is that the business is an asset and has to be listed along with all the other assets that the debtor has. A value has to be placed on the business, and then we have to figure out if it can be claimed as exempt. If it can’t be claimed as exempt, and if we are talking a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then the business will become property of the bankruptcy trustee – or it will have to be bought back from the trustee if the debtor wants to keep it. As a practical matter, most of the small businesses I hear about are virtually worthless, so that claiming them as exempt is not much of a problem – but it is a question that has to be dealt with.

Second thing I bring up is that we will probably be required to list the business name among the names used by the debtor; and once that is done, it is very likely that the bankruptcy filing will be picked up by the Star Tribune and published in their Monday business section. Typical question at this point: “What if I just transfer the business to my boyfriend?” My answer is that then we would have to disclose the transfer, which could possibly be reversed as fraudulent; and the “doing business as” would be changed to “formerly doing business as” and it still gets published in the Star Tribune.

And if you have a business partner, the “doing business as” business name can get listed in the Star Tribune even though your partner is not filing any bankruptcy. Partners in that position tend to be irate to say the least.

This is not the only circumstance, but one of many, where the bankruptcy process does involve a some pain. Those considering bankruptcy should not expect that there will be absolutely no inconvenience.

Loons at Westwood Hills

I spent time at the office this past Saturday, but not after first taking a long walk at the Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park. It was quite beautiful, with the maples already turning a bright red.

There’s a part of the trail that goes over a board walk which extends right through part of the lake. On that section of the trail I noticed out in the middle of the lake some birds that I must say look like loons to me. I have seen them there in prior years, always in the spring or the fall. They seem to make Westwood Lake one of their stops as they migrate either north in the spring or south in the fall. I guess they are already on their way south.

For me there seems to be something uplifting and reassuring about seeing them.

"Avoid Bankruptcy" add on the radio this morning

The radio add starts out with a dramatization of a phone call where a job applicant is being asked about a bankruptcy by a prospective employer. Then the announcer cuts in and starts talking about avoiding bankruptcy by going to whoever was sponsoring the add. This angered me because I have never had a client complain to me about receiving such a call; and I hear lots of complaints about lots of things.

The bankruptcy statute has provisions prohibiting discrimination by employers because a person has filed a bankruptcy. My understanding of those provisions is that they prevent a current employer from changing employment status because of a bankruptcy filing. It is also my understanding, however, that they do not prevent a future employer from taking the filing into account. So at least in theory, a call like the one in the add is possible. I just don’t know anyone who it has ever happened to.

I do know people who have spent great amounts of cash on various debt management or debt consolidation schemes, only to ultimately wind up in my office doing a bankruptcy. When I am asked about where to go for credit or debt management counseling, I always say to avoid any outfit that you hear advertising on the radio, TV or other media. The best places to go are the nonprofit organizations such as Lutheran Social Services or Family Means. There are lots of crooked or questionable debt counseling operations. It is possible that they could do a lot of good, but great care should be taken in selecting such a service. If I were you I would avoid any service which does not have an office in Minnesota.

Just ventilating here. I think the add is way inappropriate.

Out of town until Thursday, July 30th

I’m sitting by the shore of Lake Superior at the Java Moose coffee shop in Grand Marais, MN. My wife and I have been camping here at the municipal campground. Must say this is about my favorite spot in the whole world. The people who run the Java Moose are very kind. They don’t seem to mind how long one sits with one’s laptop.

Yesterday and Sunday were unique in that our cell phone service was out. I didn’t realize how important that cell phone has become until it didn’t work. On a trip like this it serves more as a family intercom, helping me find my wife when we get separated during one activity or another. The phones kicked back in and started working late Monday afternoon – something wrong with the tower I guess. Whatever it was it seemed to only affect T-Mobile service. Verizon and AT&T still worked I learned from comparing notes with other campers.

So yesterday, before my wife and I headed out to hike at Mount Oberg, I fired up a pair of old walkie-talkies. That way if we got separated, which happens a lot because I tend to get ahead of her on the trail, we still could talk with each other. Compared to the cell phones, the walkie-talkies seem crude. They always work at least if you are in range no matter where one is, however. Turns out that even when the tower in Grand Marais is working, the cell phone service doesn’t extent to Mount Oberg.

I’ll be back in the office on Thursday morning. These trips are always too short.

Back to Wayzata Blvd.

I’m still unpacking, but at least I’m in my new office and the phones are hooked up.

I want to give special thanks to the following, who I will not refer to by name to protect the innocent:

  • The crew who helped me move. They consisted of my my wife, two daughters, two sons in law, and a step-son-in-law.
  • The technicians from Popp Telecom, who spent almost all day Friday trying to unscramble a spaghetti bowl of wires in this building so that my DSL, phone jacks and Ethernet jacks would work.
  • The delivery crew from Office Liquidators in Plymouth, who disposed of some of my old furniture from my old location and delivered new or mostly new furniture to my new place. As close as I can figure, my old desk and chairs had been in use for 27 years – guess I got my use out of them.
  • The staff from Senior Community Services, which is my new landlord. They have been very helpful and gracious. Before moving in I had asked them for new paint, new carpeting, a sign in the parking lot and some remodeling. They agreed to everything I asked for.
  • They guys from Joe’s Carpeting – who after putting in the carpet have agreed to make some throw rugs out of the remnants for me.
  • The neighborhood mail carrier – who is making an effort to see that my mail still gets to me.

This is not the first time I have had an office with a Wayzata Blvd. address. Between 1978 and 1980 I was at 6950 Wayzata Blvd. in Golden Valley. That building is no longer there. Long after I left, it was torn down to make room for I-394. It was next door to the Perkins which is still near the intersection of Highway 12 and Louisiana Ave. I had really forgotten about that old office, until I noticed that there was something familiar about having “Wayzata Blvd.” on my business card. Deja vu all over again.

Moving to New Office

Somewhere around July 10th I will be moving my office down the street west about three blocks. The new address will be 10709 Wayzata Blvd. #205, Minnetonka, MN 55305.

Every commercial building for miles around my present office has had “for rent” signs up for some time. A couple of months ago I decided to look around a bit, and I started to feel like a kid in candy store. It didn’t take long to figure out that I could get more than twice as much space for about half as much money. The new office space will have a soaring vaulted ceiling in a pyramid-shaped building, with a patio door that opens into a grassy back yard. It’s all one level and is fully accessible to the handicapped. There’s already one elderly couple who have made their appointment to come see me after the move to avoid the steps at my old location.

I have been very happy at the old office, having been there for almost 13 years. In general I hate change, and I will admit to having an emotional attachment to the old place. I feel in my bones, however, that now is the time to make a change. The new place will have the space I need and will be quite a bit more efficient, particulary after I get it set up the way I want it. It’s close enough that I would hope to stay in touch with old friends at the old location; and I have already learned that another old friend has an office right down the hall at the new place.

My phone numbers and email address will stay the same. The fax number is changing to 952-525-7924.