Did the Red Cross pull an R. Kelly?

Lawsuit claims national director threatens to pee on people

Last month, former local Red Cross executive Linda Hildreth sued both the national organization and its Twin Cities chapter after getting the ax for what she says was age and sex discrimination. Given what she included in the lawsuit, it's a safe bet Hildreth, 60, isn't angling to get her job back.

Hildreth alleges that during a staff meeting, Alan Horn, the national Red Cross's director of chapter operations and support, stood up and pretended to take his penis out of his pants. After acting like he was peeing on the conference table, the lawsuit alleges, Horn went on to explain that if someone didn't like what he was doing, "then piss on them."

In another meeting, Hildreth claims, Horn expressed his distaste for a female Red Cross executive by saying that he "would not piss down her throat if her ass was on fire."

Hildreth says she was fired after filing a complaint about Horn. She also alleges she was held to a higher standard than her younger male colleagues. The Red Cross, through its lawyer, accused Hildreth of sensationalizing the lawsuit, and denied all the charges. Jonathan Kaminsky

Swag for the Third World

In an effort to make a statement against influence-wooing gifts to doctors from drug companies, Duluth-based SMDC Health Systems cleansed its 17 clinics and four hospitals of pens, notepads, clipboards, coffee mugs, and other swag from Nexium, Vytorin, Lipitor, and Valtrex.

Of the 18,718 items, the lion's share will be donated to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon, which operates several rural health centers and three health clinics in the West African nation, says Kim Kaiser, spokeswoman for SMDC.

The free items don't present a conflict of interest in Cameroon because most advertised drugs aren't available there, Kaiser says. Plus, most residents there speak French, so the English-language trinkets don't really work as advertisements.

Just what the average Cameroonian, with a $2,400 GDP and life span of 52 years, really needs: 20 shopping carts full of pens and shit. —Beth Walton

Start Your Own "Ass Farm"

Last week, the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue started targeting Minnesota landowners as potential foster parents for the animals, and nearly 50 of the states' residents have already made inquiries about creating an ass farm on their property.

The goal of Peaceful Valley is to "get the word out about the plight of the American donkey and try to change it," says Rachael Komulainen, a vice president at the Tehachapi, California, animal refuge.

There are currently 1,000 abused and neglected donkeys and wild burros that need homes, Komulainen says. And donkeys, with their reputation as stubborn jackasses, are hard to place, she laments. "People think of donkeys and they think about Shrek or Pinocchio. Society has made the donkey out to be this stupid, laughable animal, but there is definitely a misconception about them."

For example, horses will run in fear when they sense danger, but a donkey will protect its owner and fight when threatened. That's one great ass. —Beth Walton

Name That Tower

With its metallic-blue hue and half-circle crown, the skyscraper formerly known as the US Bankcorp Center, now called 225 South Sixth, is one of the most distinctive buildings adorning the Minneapolis skyline. Opened in 1992, it's the second-tallest landmark in the Twin Cities at 56 stories, behind the soaring IDS Center.

But if there's one complaint to levy against the skyscraper, it's that "225 South Sixth" lacks aural elegance.

With that in mind, we're soliciting name ideas from readers. The reader who submits the best moniker before March 1 will be awarded a special prize—most likely the broken nutcracker Macy's sent us for Christmas. Granted, the label will be totally unofficial and likely abandoned when a major corporation buys the naming rights, but it's our hope that the adopted title will be strong enough to catch on and enter the local lexicon.

Things to avoid: incorporating our state's motto into the name, à la the Empire State Building. Too unoriginal. Besides, "Land of 10,000 Lakes Building" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like butter. Think poetic, like the Space Needle.

So have at it, dear readers. Name that tower. Send your suggestions to letters@citypages.com. Matt Snyders

 
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