Off Beat

Live or Memorex?

THE UNIVERSITY OF Minnesota men's basketball team is mired in controversy again. Only this time it's the ink-stained wretches who cover the team that are generating the headlines. Last week the Rockford Register Star of Illinois copped to ripping off a story by Star Tribune sports reporter Jeff Shelman. In November Shelman wrote a rousing profile of incoming Gopher freshman player Aaron Robinson detailing the Rockford native's rise from familial tragedy. Robinson's birth mother left home when he was six months old, his father died of AIDS the day after his 13th birthday, and his stepmother passed on less than a year later. Despite these trying circumstances, and with the guidance of a family member who became his legal guardian, Tony Box, Robinson stayed the path of academics and hoops, leading to a free ride to the U of M. On March 9 the Rockford Register Star chimed in with its own accounting of Robinson's life story, written by Ed Glennon. The piece earned Glennon an award for sports writing, but there was one little problem: Many of the quotes from Robinson and Box (whose nickname is Rock) were almost verbatim what had appeared in the Minneapolis daily four months earlier. The Strib became aware of the glaring similarities last month. Editor Tim McGuire informed his counterpart at the Rockford paper, Linda Grist Cunningham, of the apparently purloined quotes, and Glennon was fired. McGuire says that Cunningham acted "decisively and courageously." Glennon continues to maintain his innocence, insisting that the quotes came from his own notebook. "To say that the quotes are identical and ripped off is profoundly preposterous and it's evident to anyone who can put the stories side by side," declares Glennon. He plans to sue the Rockford paper for wrongful termination and libel. Off Beat wants you to decide for yourselves: Here's just one example, detailing young Robinson's struggle to stay on the straight and narrow after his older brothers had run into trouble. First, from the Strib's story: "Rock wouldn't let me hang out with my brothers," Robinson said. "He'd always say, 'I know they're your brothers and you love them and they love you, but you can't do the same things they do.'" Then, a Robinson quote from the Rockford Register Star: "Rock wouldn't let me hang out with my brothers. He'd always say, 'I know they're your brothers, and you love them, and they love you. But you can't do the same things they do.'" Hmmm. Glennon better get himself a good lawyer.

Politics of Exclusion

OFF BEAT OFFERS a mea culpa to Robert Lilligren, whom City Pages neglected to mention last month as a contender for the Minneapolis City Council's Eighth Ward seat ("Rainbow Coalition," May 23, 2001). Even more sadly for Lilligren, we weren't alone in the misstep: Lilligren, an openly gay candidate running against incumbent Brian Herron, points out that he didn't make it into the limelightin recent stories by both Lavendermagazine and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Still, Lilligren isn't terribly bitter. He received the endorsements of neither the DFL party nor its GLBT caucus, the Stonewall DFL. "I understand it," he says, with a hint of resignation. But in one of those odd twists that can happen only in the world of municipal politics, the absence of Lilligren's name in print may actually have bolstered his somewhat marginal campaign. "More people have talked about it because of my exclusion," he cheerily notes. "It seems to have worked in my favor."

 
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