Keepin' it in the family

T-Paw puts the patronage back in the state government

Earlier this month, Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Betsy Wergin, a Republican state senator from Princeton, to the Public Utilities Commission. In addition to being the sister of outgoing Pawlenty appointee LeRoy Koppendrayer, her qualifications for the job include authoring no meaningful utility-related legislation, logging exactly zero hours on legislative committees dealing with energy or utilities, and having no career experience in the field.

State Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), did not hold back when assessing the appointment in a recent letter to his hometown paper.

"This appointment of an unqualified candidate based on political friendships is strangely reminiscent of a certain former transportation commissioner," he wrote. "And we all know how well Minnesota was served by that decision." Jonathan Kaminsky

Fare-weather Friends

With gas prices through the roof, Minneapolis cabbies are going broke while the Minneapolis City Council drags its feet on an overdue fare increase. The city is required to review cab fares every two years and is eight months behind schedule. In that eight months, gas has gone up by more than a dollar a gallon.

"We've been slow at City Hall and we need some way to make it up to drivers," says Ninth Ward Councilmember Gary Schiff.

Last week, a regulatory committee considered allowing taxi drivers to collect a one-dollar surcharge per ride during the RNC. St. Paul has already approved a surcharge, but in Minneapolis the proposal is being held hostage to a larger debate about when and how—or if—there should be a more permanent fare hike. The committee is locked in a stalemate, which means cash-strapped cabbies have to wait at least until the next scheduled meeting at the end of the month for relief.

Until then, council members would be well advised to drive their own damn selves. —Jeff Severns Guntzel

How the Cracker Crumbles

When former altar boy turned atheist PZ Myers mocked Catholics for their outcry over a college student who stole the Eucharist, he didn't expect such a response.

All he did was threaten to defile the blessed host.

Soon after, Myers's inbox filled with death threats. People defended the ritual, reciting stories about times blood actually dripped from the cracker or miracles they observed during communion.

"They really made it sound like they have these little idols," he says. "The crackers have become little gods to them and any attacks on them are an attack on their God directly. It has been a really weird situation." —Beth Walton

Bull Session

The 10-day siege of the Stone Arch Bridge ended when Red Bull peacefully packed up its 25 giant black cubes, which had acted as a high-energy roadblock.

Most everything about "Illume," Red Bull's traveling international photography exhibition, was a disappointment. Aside from one shot of a Lake Superior surfer covered in icicles, the pictures had all the awesomeness of the stock photos found on a Microsoft Zune. And while backlighting photos is generally cool, when done outdoors it turns them into giant billboards for insects to mate upon. In one picture it was tough to determine if a skier was floating atop an avalanche of snow or moths.

What the hell was the city thinking? Well, about 25,000 extra dollars, according to the park board's Shane Stenzel. The cash made up for the two hours of exhibit time and 22 hours of roadblock.

Stenzel admits that the exhibit received complaints. "Some people were quick to say it was an inconvenience," he says. "They need to remember it's temporary. It'll soon be a distant memory."

But the cute Red Bull Girls in tiny shorts will long remember the vitriol spewed in their direction. "So many people have yelled at us," says one wearing gold-framed J-Lo shades. "They're all mad about us hogging their bridge."

In this case, Red Bull didn't give you wings. Bradley Campbell

 
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