Tuesday, January 25, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Creditors Get 12 Cents on Every Dollar Tirrell Owes.


If Marty Tirrell owes you money — and if he does, you’re not alone — here’s the good news: You will be paid. Here’s the not-so-good news: You will be paid 12 cents on the dollar.

Tirrell, the sports broadcaster, emerged from bankruptcy court the other day. His creditors are bloodied, but he’s unbowed. Indeed, he’s about to launch a radio show on yet another station in town — on KRNT, a station owned by the Des Moines Radio Group, which is part of Michigan-based Saga Communications.

Tirrell is currently on KXLQ, which is known as The Jock and is on 1490. As a rule, he buys blocks of time from a station and then sells ads during that time to support his show. But he’s not the town’s greatest businessman. Indeed, at the time he filed bankruptcy he owed KXLQ $29,700, and the station will have to eat more than $26,000 of that as an unsecured creditor.

Others stuck with getting just 12 cents on the dollar include Santander Bank of Reading, Pennsylvania, which is owed $41,931.81 on a loan; Chase Bank, which is owed $19,597 on a credit card; American Express, owed $12,167 on another credit card; and Wells Fargo Bank, owed $5,160 on a third credit card.

Tirrell owed $8,900 to The Des Moines Register for advertising and $5,157 to KDMI-TV, also for advertising. He owed several medical bills as well.


Last year was not a great year for the bombastic broadcaster. Two judgments, totaling nearly $200,000, were entered against him in federal court in Chicago. Both resulted from suits by ticket brokers, who sold Tirrell blocks of tickets to major sporting events, tickets that he either gave or sold to advertisers and listeners. Tirrell never paid for the tickets, the courts found. The brokers are also unsecured creditors, meaning they’ll get 12 cents on the dollar for their judgments. A similar suit, seeking around $350,000, was awaiting trial in Texas when he sought bankruptcy protection, so it was automatically put on hold. There have been no filings setting a new trial date.

On top of all that, the Internal Revenue Service put liens on his property in January and July of last year, saying he owed around $45,000 in back taxes for 2010, 2011 and 2012. There’s no indication in Polk County records that the liens have been lifted, but they are not mentioned in the bankruptcy proceeding.

The creditors won’t even get those 12 cents right away. The repayment plan approved by the bankruptcy court calls for Tirrell to pay a total of $61,500 at $1,025 a month for 60 months, indicating that the nonsecure creditors were owed around $550,000. He also will make monthly payments of around $1,900 to Great Western Bank, which apparently holds $220,000 in mortgages on his home in West Des Moines and another property in Waukee. The home had been sold at a sheriff’s sale on June 17 of last year, but he got title back in late November as the bankruptcy was winding down. He and his wife, who was also a party to the bankruptcy proceeding, have remained living in the $220,000 house.

Meantime, Tirrell has joined up with his long-ago partner, Ken Miller, to do a sports-radio show on KRNT, which apparently is switching to sports-talk and ESPN from music for people more than 95 years old. This will be at least the fourth station Tirrell has been on since coming to Des Moines more than 15 years ago. …

Speaking of Marty Tirrell…

His old pal Steve Luebke and the state have reached a plea agreement on the six charges arising from his very bad day at the wheel last September.

Luebke, the onetime sales boss at Toyota of Des Moines and, briefly, at Deery Brothers Chevrolet in Pleasant Hill, wrecked a Deery Chevrolet Camaro on the freeway in Des Moines late in the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 13. He admits in new court filings that he was “impaired due to a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.” He left the scene before the police arrived, and somehow made it back to the Deery lot. He got a second car, headed east and was stopped for drunken driving just before midnight in Prairie City. He was charged with third-offense drunken driving in Jasper County. (In fact, it was his fifth arrest for drunken driving.)

When Des Moines police went to his home to arrest him the next day, he was “drunk… and passed out,” the parole-violation report says. (At the time of the arrests, Luebke was on parole from a third-offense drunk-driving conviction in April of 2013. He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released on parole after serving 39 days in prison in Newton and spending five months in a treatment program at  Fort Des Moines.) Because of the parole violation, he has been in Polk County jail since the arrests.

Under the plea agreement filed in Polk County District Court, the 57-year-old Luebke and prosecutors have agreed he will plead guilty to second-offense drunken driving, driving while barred, and driving while his license was denied or revoked.

A hearing in Polk County is this week. A hearing in Jasper County is scheduled for next week.

The maximum sentence for second-offense drunken driving is two years in prison and a fine of $6,250; the minimum is seven days in jail and a fine of $1,875. He has already served four months in jail this time around.

Lesser legal woes continue.

Two days after his very bad day, he had a pretty bad day. The Dallas County court sent the sheriff a notice that a judgment of $35,085.31 had been entered against him in favor of Veridian Credit Union in a dispute over yet another car he wrecked in a “collision” with a bridge.

And since he has been in jail, Community Choice Credit Union has gone to small claims court demanding $4,854.64 owed on a credit card. The court papers were served on Luebke on Jan. 5 in jail. …

Real-estate stuff: The Seventh Street Brownstones, the 34-unit rental complex Hubbell just finished putting up south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway downtown, are for sale. An offering brochure says Hubbell is asking $9,750,000, or $286,765 per unit. The units average about 1,660 square feet, have three bedrooms and two-car garages and rent for about $2,000 a month. The offering brochure says all are rented. Hubbell hopes to continue to manage the property after it is sold. …

Cityview joins those saddened by the death of Ed Skinner, a powerful community and political leader who worked hard for almost anything or anyone involved in the eastern part of Polk County. CV


Comment: Measuring Twice skinny Mark-Cady-e226-1

Mark Cady, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, gave his State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol last week.

Here’s what he didn’t do in his 30-minute talk:

He didn’t whine about judicial salaries — or even mention them.

He didn’t complain about crowded dockets — or even mention them.

He didn’t talk about outmoded courtrooms — or even mention them.

He talked, mostly, about kids and about fairness. He spoke, compassionately, about keeping families together. He noted, quietly, the court’s efforts to solve problems “with civility and fairness.” And he talked, modestly, about building “the best court system in the nation.”

He spoke, especially, about listening — listening to “the needs and expectations of Iowans.” He opened by noting that both his grandfathers were carpenters, and, later, he said: “We know we must be willing to listen, measure twice, and try new approaches to provide the best services possible for all Iowans.”

The Chief Justice is clearly troubled by the fact that 9.4 percent of adult blacks in Iowa are incarcerated at some point — the third highest rate in the nation. The courts, he said, are taking steps “to better understand and address the persistence of racial disparities.”

“This is a difficult problem,” he said, “but its complexity must not deter us from finding a solution.”

The legislators stood and clapped. For a long time.

Cady noted, modestly, some successes of the past year.

A success with kids: Juvenile court officers are spending more time with troubled youngsters, guiding them through tough times and away from crime. In the past two years, the number of juveniles charged with felonies has dropped 20 percent; the number of young adults entering the correctional system is down 10 percent.

And success with transparency and technology: By June 30, “Iowa will be the first state in the nation to have a totally, electronic, paperless process for all cases at every level.”

At the end, the Chief Justice went back to fairness. “Fair and impartial justice for all is our mission,” he said. “Everyone deserves to see the court process as fair and just, even if some will not see the justice in the results the same way at the same time.”

There aren’t a lot of days when you walk out of a legislative chamber feeling proud and hopeful. But last Wednesday, you left the House chamber immensely proud to be an Iowan. CV

— Michael Gartner

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