Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin is funny and serious, often in the same piece. Last fall, he followed up a City Pages report about Parasole restaurants charging its servers for credit card tips by asking hard questions of the chain's management and wondering what ad makers would dub the controversy. Maybe, he wrote, they'd call it "Cheapo Latino." Like the best old-school newspaper columnists, Tevlin seems equally at home in the corridors of the Capitol and in the living rooms of average folks. His strength is the human-interest story, finding a small incident in people's everyday lives that illustrates a larger issue: a good Samaritan neighbor who fixes up houses on his block, an unemployed homeowner arrested for not keeping up repairs on his house, a handicapped man who may no longer be able to live independently when he loses a health insurance program after retirement. Whether Tevlin is reporting on political disputes in Little Falls or attending a vigil for three-year-old shooting victim Terrell Mayes Jr. on New Year's Eve, his columns go far beyond expressing opinion for opinion's sake. At their best, they open a window onto the human condition, in all its nobility, silliness, depravity, and courage.

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