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A key hire by the Dayton campaign marks the start of the gubernatorial sweepstakes

NEVER MIND THAT the election is still a year and a half away, looks like things are beginning to move in the DFL gubernatorial contest. Much of the speculative buzz for the past six months has been about where the Wellstonians would go: The core group of activists that helped elect the state's senior senator remains, after all, the party's most effective political strike force in a decade or so. Now comes the announcement that Mark Dayton has hired Dan Cramer as his campaign manager. Cramer, a driving force in Wellstone's 1990 and 1996 campaigns, was reportedly being courted by at least one other gubernatorial campaign and could bring other key operatives to the department-store heir's bid. Dayton has also been talking to Wellstone's pollster and some of the computer whizzes who helped put together the senator's field strategy.

Meanwhile, the other DFL hopefuls have, of course, hardly been idle. Attorney General Skip Humphrey has a gaggle of political operatives right in his office, and some of them openly have been plotting strategies that included a lot of statewide "visibility" via travel for the AG. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has hired a couple of staffers, including another key Wellstonian; and at Ted Mondale's campaign office, the voice-mail system encourages callers to leave messages for any of about a dozen people.

All of this, of course, costs money; but that, so far, seems to be the least of the campaigners' worries. Dayton has a personal fortune to fall back on, though he's pledged that he won't spend anything like the $7 million he threw into his losing '82 U.S. Senate bid. And the other three aren't looking too bad either: Campaign finance reform platforms aside, their fundraising machines were already in high gear last year, pulling in a combined $231,000, or 13 times as much as their Republican counterparts. If they keep going at that rate... well, you don't want to imagine.


PROACTIVE POLICING, THE latest trend in law enforcement, has made its way to Linden Hills, a pastoral community bordering Edina. Following the lead of the McDonald's on Lake and Lagoon in Minneapolis's Uptown district, the Dunn Brothers coffee shop on 50th and Xerxes recently opened a police substation. But while the Uptown area experiences some crime--typically petty crimes such as panhandling and shoplifting--the Southwest Minneapolis hub is virtually crime-free. "There hasn't been any crime in the area, but having it [a substation] in the neighborhood makes people feel safe," avers a Dunn Brothers employee.

According to Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Penny Parrish, the push for the private copshop originated within the area's neighborhood group. "The Fulton Neighborhood Association decided it wanted more police presence," she says. "They convinced Dunn Brothers to donate space, and got some other businesses to chip in supplies." Parrish maintains, however, that the substation is more a matter of convenience than a crime-fighting tool. "No one is staffed there full-time. It allows officers to fill out their reports closer to their beat. It's really just a paperwork haven," she says.


PROPER CONDUCT AT the Star Tribune, on and off the page, would've been a juicy topic for its recently fired freelance ethics columnist, Marjorie Kelly. Editor/publisher of the newsletter-turned-magazine-turned-newsletter Business Ethics, Kelly has on more than one occasion been accused by former employees and staffers at the Strib of "loose" and "sloppy" reporting. Her termination last week, after 18 months as a columnist, was unceremoniously noted in a business section side note. Strib Managing Editor Pam Fine wouldn't comment, but Kelly says that a guild reporter ostensibly would have been warned for shoddy work, then, at worst, be demoted. Her ouster, however, came "out of the blue." Meanwhile, deep-throated staffers at the Strib argue that if any missteps were taken by management, they're outweighed by Kelly's incompetence as a reporter--a sentiment echoed in a recent column by reader ombudsman Lou Gelfand.

The question is whether anyone will replace Kelly, an opinion columnist who served as the business section's chief contrarian, generating the section's most compelling mail. Fine won't comment whether the Strib plans to seek an equally incendiary voice, but Kelly has her doubts. "I do think there was an issue around how progressive my stance was," she says. "And while I think they want to continue a column on business ethics, I hope they don't wrap it in plain vanilla."

Public Domain

The word "closure" used to be something that kept strangers from coming into your house, or what businesses do when they move the factories to Taiwan. But in recent years it's a new synonym for "revenge," as in, "Only if I can watch the SOB who stole my VCR fry in the electric chair can I achieve closure." Keep your television set tuned to the talking pinheads' analysis of the trial of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh; you're going to hear a lot more about "CLOSURE" and "HEALING" for the victims than, say, the freedom to own a copy of the Turner Diaries. Here's our media analysis of two dozen regional newspapers and their use of buzz-words associated with victims-rights zealots:

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