Off Beat

Poll Taxing

A VIGILANT ST. PAULITE e-mails to tell Off Beat of a phone call he received from a "market research firm" in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wanting to know what he thought of Mayor Norm Coleman's plan to increase the city's sales tax by a half-cent in order to construct a publicly financed stadium for the Minnesota Twins. "After I answered no to the first question--whether I planned to vote yes on the November 2 referendum--I was asked if building a ballyard in St. Paul would make it a world-class city," our source reports. "I was told it would cost me approximately $13 a year, and upon hearing this low total, would I now be more willing to vote yes. I was asked, 'If the Twins had a better record, would you be more likely to vote yes?' And then, 'If by building a new stadium you knew the Twins would become a better team, would you be more likely to vote yes?' I was told that some Minneapolis business types are trying to undermine the St. Paul effort with skullduggery, and asked whether hearing this news made me more likely to vote in favor of increasing the sales tax." On and on it went for ten minutes. The highlight, he says, was the question, "Would building a ballpark in downtown St. Paul make St. Paul a better or worse city?"--to which our friend replied, "I don't think it would make any difference." Responded the surveyor: "So, you have no opinion?" "No," he persisted. "I have an opinion: It won't make a difference." Informing him that she had no category for that answer, the surveyor tried once more, asking, "Do you have a leaning one way or another?" Concludes our source: "I guess I was registered as having no opinion." When we called Yes St. Paul, the organization Coleman formed to drum up "grassroots" support for his stadium proposal (see Off Beat, September 22), we were referred to Erich Mische, the mayor's director of strategic initiatives and point man on the ballpark crusade. Mische confirmed that the pro-stadium forces are polling but had nothing to say regarding the questions being asked, reverting instead to pitching the mayor's rosy predictions. "The real issue," he insists, "is will two to three million new visitors to St. Paul a year and $75 million to $100 million generated annually be worth $13 a year."

On the Fly

WHEN LAST WE encountered University of Minnesota entomology professor and self-described bugologist Roger Moon, he was telling us, in excruciating detail, how the fly in our soup could make us sick ("Love Stings," June 30). Now he has just returned from an expedition to Russia and Kazakhstan, where he spent nearly two months looking for natural enemies of the housefly and stablefly. (Turns out those critters evolved in the Old Country before "immigrating" into the U.S. a few centuries ago.) Moon says he spent his time overseas rummaging through what he calls "their community"--i.e., cow manure. On the return trip, the prof's checked baggage included small plastic containers and airtight bags of his "harvest": several species of tiny wasps that infiltrate fly pupae and kill them before they hatch. "My bugs are now in quarantine in Florida, hopefully reproducing their little brains out," he reports. Following three months of seclusion and sex at Florida's Center for Medical and Veterinary Entomology, the insects can be transported in sealed containers to Moon's U of M lab, where he'll study them and their offspring for two years, thanks to a $22,000 grant he recently won from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Does this bode ill for Off Beat's investments in fly-swatter stock? "Oh no," the always pragmatic Moon assures us. "The swatter won't be obsolete, just, ideally, used a little less often."

 

At Off Beat our motto is "Staying informed so you don't have to." Call (612) 372-3788 or send e-mail to offbeat@citypages.com with any poop that's fit to print.

 
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