Paranoid Delusions

Minneapolis City Council members go to great lengths to keep meeting private so they can discuss... nothing?

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IT APPEARS THAT the Minneapolis City Council is taking PR lessons from Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. It took nearly a half-dozen phone calls last week before someone in the Council's employ would confirm that members were having a retreat, and that it would be held outside the Bastille-like confines of City Hall. An annual confab about the budget and policy priorities, the meeting, once it began, offered instant evidence that the paranoia was superfluous; nothing but agenda-setting, flesh-pressing business as usual. The only hint of controversy was Finance Director John Moir's update on the city's eroding tax base: "The outlook is austere. We have a $75 million building [American Express] that we won't get $1 from. In fact, [paradoxically] it will drive down the tax rate for everyone else." But, he adds, "we've managed to deal with this for the past seven years, so we can do it for another." Otherwise, members were divvied into "SWOT teams" (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats), and spent the day preaching to the converted. Among this year's priorities are such projects as "interjurisdictional gun suppression," "restructuring of MPD bureaus," and the augmentation of a gang strike force that promises to provide "educational support explaining the insidious nature of gangs."

NO MORE MR. NICE NILS

THE FRONT-PAGE valentine to retiring UM president Nils Hasselmo in Monday's Star Tribune was a textbook example of the cognitive dissonance necessary to practice both journalism and Minnesota Nice. The Strib depicts Hasselmo as an unflinching opponent of the regents' disastrous tenure-code proposal, while in fact, Hasselmo has suggested to the regents a number of harsh restrictions on tenure, which he thinks "should be available only under exceptional circumstances in certain areas." He also hired and supported Academic Health Center Provost William Brody, whose AHC "reengineering" efforts and lobbying at the Legislature were a catalyst for the regents' radical proposal.

Yet the same day the Strib proclaimed Hasselmo's "biggest accomplishment" was "restoring confidence" in the U, its editorial page acknowledged that the regents' proposal "damaged the university's reputation in the academic world and threatened the long-term future of an institution that requires consultative governance." The news story, meanwhile, explained the decline of the U's graduate programs under Hasselmo's watch by saying that public schools are having trouble competing financially with private institutions. But just a few paragraphs later, it lauds Hasselmo as a rainmaker who put the U among the nation's top institutions by helping raise more than $1 billion in private funds.

PRODIGAL PLAYWRIGHT

WHEN AUGUST WILSON took to the podium last weekend at the national conference of Americans for the Arts, he reiterated his call for the creation of more autonomous black theaters throughout the United States. White theaters periodically hosting black productions hardly makes up for the fact that just one of the 67 League of Resident Theaters is African American, he said. Harking back to his "Ground on Which I Stand" speech of a year ago, Wilson emphasized that he isn't advocating separatism but wants African American culture to be included within a truly American theater, not a Euro-American one. The predominantly white audience at the posh Minneapolis Hyatt scarcely flinched when Wilson called on its members to recognize an illusion in American culture, namely that there is racial equality in the arts because art is about transcending human differences. "If we don't aspire to freedom and justice for all, let's stop saying it," he advised.

ELECTORAL UPDATE

NOT CONTENT WITH letting the big boys have all the fun, Progressive Minnesota has endorsed its first-ever batch of municipal candidates. At its state convention Saturday, the group voted to support several Minneapolis City Council candidates for local city offices.

The New Party's most visible effort, however, probably will be its push for two amendments to the Minneapolis city charter--one expanding the civil-rights ordinance to police, and the other requiring "full public input" in any decision to subsidize a new stadium. Members will have to collect almost 8,200 signatures from registered voters by Aug. 28 to get either initiative on the ballot.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Careers we have considered (as described in the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration's 1,400 page tome The Dictionary of Occupational Titles):

COMEDIAN 159.047-014

Attempts to make audience laugh by telling jokes, delivering comic lines, singing humorous songs, performing comedy dances or walks, or facial contortions, wearing funny costumes, or resorting to any similar device to amuse audience. May do impersonations.

STICKER, ANIMAL 525.684-050

Severs jugular vein of previously stunned animals with knife to prepare animals for butchering: Positions neck of animal suspended from overhead rail or shackled on table for sticking. Thrusts knife into throat of animal and twists blade to locate and sever jugular vein. May shackle and suspend animal before sticking. May sever head and remove skin with knife, after blood has drained. May be designated according to animal killed.

ARTIFICIAL-PLASTIC-EYE MAKER

Fabricates artificial plastic eyes according to specifications and fits eyes into customer's eye sockets, using precision handtools, measuring instruments, molding devices, and bench fabricating machines: Measures customer's eye socket, using calipers, and measures natural eye to determine size and location of pupil and iris, using scale. Records data on examination card. Selects stock artificial eye approximating size and shape of customer's socket and inserts eye into socket. Fills eye area and questions customer to ascertain that eye fit is comfortable. Applies plastic as required to build up and shape stock eye to conform to customer's eye socket. Examines customer's natural eye to determine iris coloring, eye-white shading, and number of eye-white veins and records information on examination card. Selects samples of iris, pupil, and white to match eye. Positions artificial eye stock in plaster of paris to prepare mold for casting plastic eye. Pours plastic into mold to form artificial eye. Measures molded eye to determine position for pupil and iris, using rule. Positions and presses pupil and iris into place. Immerses eye in boiling water to set plastic. Paints iris and white of artificial eye to produce color of customer's natural eye according to information recorded on examination card. Draws veins on white of eye, using colored pencil, or scratches grooves into eye to represent veins and fills grooves with pigment. Immerses eye in clear plastic solution to produce glassy finish. Examines eye for irregularities in shape and removes irregularities, using dental grinding machine. Polishes eye, using pumice and electric buffing wheel. Fits customer with artificial eye and compares artificial eye with natural eye to ensure centering of iris and pupils and matching of colors.

POET 131.067-042

Writes narrative, dramatic, or lyric poetry for magazines, books, and other publications: Chooses subject matter and suitable form to express personal feeling and individual experience, or to narrate story or event. May write doggerel or other type verse.

 
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