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BEST VILLAIN Minneapolis 2008 - Par Ridder

Readers' Choice: Tim Pawlenty

Hollywood couldn't have cast a finer chap for the role of vile newspaper scion than Par Ridder. After all, the smug, chipmunk-cheeked son of Tony Ridder has been groomed for the post his entire life. When Par announced last year that he was resigning as publisher of the Pioneer Press to take an identical post with its cross-river rival, many media observers expressed shock because of the Ridder family's longstanding ties to the St. Paul daily. But that bit of heresy was only a prelude to the ensuing sordid drama. A month later the Pioneer Press and its parent company, MediaNews Group, sued the Star Tribune in Ramsey County District Court, alleging that Ridder had stolen a company laptop, sensitive financial data, and top employees when he cleaned out his office. Judge David Higgs eventually ruled in the Pioneer Press' favor, forcing Ridder to step down from his position after less than a year. But his short tenure at the helm shouldn't suggest that Ridder's pernicious influence won't be felt for years to come on Portland Avenue. Under his watch the Strib fired the elderly ladies who answer the phones, shit-canned a group of mentally retarded workers, outsourced ad design work to India, and downsized the newsroom by roughly 20 percent. His reward? A $2.73 million mansion on Lake of the Isles that Ridder purchased in the midst of all the bloodletting.

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