So you want to be a public servant?

You too could be mayor of St. Paul! Just answer a dozen of the most preposterous, frivolous, and insultingly direct questions you could ever hope to encounter in your whole squirming political life.

4. What are you going to do about the Canada problem?

"The Canada problem? I'm thinking about annexing the southern part of Canada. That will resolve the whole thing. It'll be a little disjointed from St. Paul, but it can be like the Upper Peninsula is in Michigan. That way we can increase our tax base in St. Paul."

5. Why do they call it Frogtown?

"Boy, I don't really know. It must have to do with early French settlers or something. It was probably settled by frogs and toads, and they had to drive the frogs out of town. That's the closest I can come...At one point it was overrun with green little frogs and toads, and those weird ones with three little legs, hopping all over the swamp."

6. Are there skeletons in your closet we should know about?

"No, nothing. I lead a pretty boring life. I grew up in New York, if that's the worst."

7. Why does St. Paul put Minneapolis to shame?

"Better neighborhoods, people are friendlier. We're east of the Mississippi, which is important, because that means we're not a new-age city. We are common-sense, down-to-earth people. We've got the Wild and they don't."

8. What will be your epitaph?

"Hopefully it won't be real soon. 'He tried and he never gave up, and he did good things for St. Paul.'"


Accuracy: Benanav shows off some geography skills and is close enough on the Budweiser question to get some extra credit, but most of his answers were guesses that ran too long to fit here. 32 points

Style: Obviously he's game enough to take some questions to even higher levels of absurdity, which can be a problem because he's not all that funny. And who doesn't have a skeleton or two in the old closet? Still, major props to anyone who wants to throw a ticker-tape parade for Randy Moss and annex southern Canada. How did Gov. Jesse Ventura fail to appoint him to something? 38 points

Mitigating factor: To prove he might be funny, Benanav claimed that people used to mistake him for Jerry Seinfeld. -7 points




Born in 1948 in Hidalgo County, Texas. Graduated Abilene Christian University. Moved to St. Paul in 1976. Served on the St. Paul City Council from 1986 to 1997. A Ramsey County commissioner since 1997. Single.

Political party: DFL

Official Web Site: None

1. Charles Schulz once lived above what bar?

[Rettman hums the theme song from The Twilight Zone.] "Oh dear... Right near O'Gara's?"

2. True or false: F. Scott Fitzgerald lived on Summit Avenue when he wrote A Farewell to Arms.

"Well, it was either Summit or Grand. True?"

CP: [Question was repeated.]

Rettman: "He didn't write A Farewell to Arms.

CP: So who did?

Rettman: "Oh, I don't know."

3. What's your favorite strip club in St. Paul?

"Can I confess I've never been in one? I've been outside the door of the Lamplighter, though. There was a parking problem, with the apartments right across the street from there. There was a conflict between the patrons of Lamplighter and residents getting vehicles in and out of the parking lot. Leah, the manager, was willing to meet with me outside, so I wouldn't have to go in. But I do remember a whole bunch of them: The Payne Reliever is closed, and then there's Casey's. In fact, there was a cabdriver who committed a murder a few years ago, and I happened to know him--in fact, I testified against him--but he used to frequent those places, so I knew about most of them.

There was Lee Lenore's--now a cookie shop on Snelling, right near Thomas--and the Red Carpet, which was off Grand, just down the hill from Dale Street. Let's see, Cosmos was on Rice Street, south of Front right at Atwater. Then there was the Flick, and the Faust, which was owned by [local former porn kingpin] Ferris Alexander. I was on the city council when we shut all of those down. [Giggles.] But I've never been in one! You have to put that in there!"

4. What pro-wrestling move would you use to pin Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton?

"But I like her; we're buddies! [Then laughs uncontrollably.] Jesse Ventura I am not! Or [World Wrestling Federation personality] The Rock. I know all the names of those guys. I'm not The Rock, but I am a rock in some ways. I'll leave that stuff to Jesse. I know you can get someone in a 'clinch.' That's about all I know."

5. Where is Inver Grove Heights?

[Again with the Twilight Zone.] "Northern St. Paul."

CP: Under the mayorship?

Rettman: "No."

6. Do you have any skeletons in your closet that we should know about?

"I don't think so. I'm sorta dull. I had an expired meter once. I loaned my vehicle to someone once and they got a parking ticket. But I paid it for them anyway. And the only accident I've ever had was in my driveway."

7. Why does St. Paul put Minneapolis to shame?

"Just think of the neighborhoods, think of the people, think of the community. Think of being at home and just being yourself. There's no pretentiousness to St. Paul--things are great and we live that way."

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