Switch Hitting

Even as she paints Sharon Sayles Belton as an opportunist, mayoral candidate Barbara Carlson has changed her position on a new, publicly funded Twins stadium.

FLIP-FLOPPING FOR survival, Minneapolis mayoral candidate Barbara Carlson is collecting signatures for Progressive Minnesota, a 3-year-old political party working to get a stadium-spending referendum on the November ballot. If this referendum passes, the city charter would be amended to require Minneapolis officials to get voter approval before spending more than $10 million on any professional sports facility. Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton is proposing a stadium plan that could cost the city up to $50 million. "This is what the people deserve," Carlson says. "Everybody lobbies legislators and the city council, but no one listens to the real people. A true leader cares about the general public."

True to form, Carlson is making quite a show of her lobbying efforts, holding dog-and-pony shows at the Metrodome, giving stump speeches at the Capitol, and canvassing Uptown. Predictably, the press is lapping it up without checking the record. On July 23, Babs told the Star Tribune she didn't oppose Progressive Minnesota's efforts to put the charter change on the ballot, but she opposed the initiative because it would tie the city's hands. "If it were on the ballot, would I support it?" she asked rhetorically. "No."

More accurately, she's had to change her strategy. Carlson's progressive posturing comes on the heels of a panicky internal shake-up. On Friday, July 11, campaign manager John Magnuson was replaced by Brian Sweeney, a big-buck heavy-hitter who's worked as a strategist for Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and managed a number of urban campaigns. At the same time, Paul Braun, formerly an operative for the state Republican Party, was named press secretary. Their job, says Sweeney, is to muddle the mayor's base.

Carlson, meanwhile, sees no irony in continuing to portray Sayles Belton as opportunistic: "Have you heard that now Sharon is thinking about supporting this referendum?" she growls. "As usual, she's trying to be all things to all people."

CASH ON WHEELS

WHETHER ST. PAULITES like mayor Norm Coleman should become clear this November at the ballot box. But there's one race the mayor's already won: The race for the hearts and checkbooks of wealthy metro-area residents. According to a new report by the community group ACORN, Coleman's formidable campaign effort has been fueled overwhelmingly by substantial contributions from non-St. Paul residents. "Suburbanites" (a category that includes Minneapolis) accounted for two-thirds of the mayor's campaign money when he was elected in 1993, the report found. For the first half of this re-election year, the share had climbed to 75 percent of the almost $120,000 raised.

But intriguing as the report's data are, to campaign watchers they're no shocker. With few exceptions, political finance nationwide is dominated by people with money and power who like to give to incumbents--especially those who, like Coleman, have made business interests their top priority. And, says the mayor's political director, Erich Mische, that's just as it should be. "People who don't live in the city are investing in an administration that is committed to doing those things that they want done. I don't see anything wrong with that." The ACORN report is available on the World Wide Web at www.normcoleman97.

THE WILD, THE INNOCENT, AND THE CITY PAGES SHUFFLE

AFTER EIGHT AND a half years as City Pages' editor, Tuesday was Steve Perry's last day on the job. Perry joined the paper in 1989 after a stint editing Buzz, a music publication owned by City Pages' founders. During his tenure, City Pages became a substantial presence on the Twin Cities media landscape, breaking award-winning stories in both arts and current affairs. Perry's column--one of the paper's most lauded features--will be remembered as a biting presence in an often-complacent public debate. Perry said his departure was not a direct result of the recent acquisition of City Pages by Stern Publishing, but did stem in part from "differing opinions" about the paper's direction.

City Pages Publisher Kris Henning said an interim editor will be named later this week and a national search for a new editor will begin immediately. Perry's immediate plans are to return to writing, a talent his staff has long hounded him to nurture. We will miss him.

 
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