Rybak on Rye

Why is the police chief eating the mayor's lunch over and over?

KSTP-TV led its five, six, and ten o'clock news with the story. At six, reporter Rod Rassman opened his coverage with the following comment: "Reporters working on the situation have been frustrated from the very beginning about the lack of information coming out of city hall regarding this case. After all, there is a killer out there somewhere, and traditionally our role is to get information out there to help the public help police find the killer."

This was followed by footage of Rybak, walking to or from another meeting in shirtsleeves, obviously unaware of the press conference, and looking every bit a deer in the camera lights. "If that's what you're imagining...that may be something you're imagining," he stammered, when asked if the his new communications policy was hindering a murder investigation.

Cut to Olson, the only public official who looked to be in control of things. The chief waited till a couple of hours after Pearson's press conference to hold his own; dressed in his blues, he told reporters that releasing the store's videotape of Eric Pearson's shooting too soon could hamper the investigation. He shook his head empathetically, expressing grief for the victim and his family, then promising the killers would be brought to justice. He didn't blame Rybak's new communication policy for the misunderstanding, but he didn't defend the mayor either. "We'll give you what we can give you," he assured the media horde.

David Fick

"And while someone in city hall decides what that will be," Rassman concluded with a dramatic vocal dip, "a family waits and hopes."

By 10:00 p.m., the mayor was on camera on both WCCO and KSTP, calmly assuring viewers that his number one priority was bringing Eric Pearson's killers to justice.

Somewhere, Olson was no doubt carving another notch in his gun belt, plotting his next spin move while Rybak waits for New Years Day 2004.

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