After a medical marijuana bill squeaked through the state Senate last week, supporters were quick to herald its passage as a historic moment. In the past, similar legislation had never even gotten a floor vote.
And it wasn't just the usual suspects lining up behind the rights of cancer patients who seek relief by smoking the sweet leaf. In the House of Representatives, some law-and-order conservatives broke ranks with fellow Republicans to support the measure.
The biggest surprise: State Rep. Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon). The former house speaker, who opposed medical marijuana in the past, says he had a change of heart after talking to two East Coast lawmakers who had lost spouses to cancer.
"I became aware of the need to address these very painful situations," Sviggum says. "It isn't the biggest issue facing Minnesota, but it could help real people without posing much risk."
But there's little chance Gov. Tim Pawlenty will allow that to happen. Sviggum says he spoke with Matt Kramer, Pawlenty's chief of staff, who informed him the governor would veto the bill. And there aren't nearly enough votes to override the veto, which means the medical marijuana bill will go up in smoke.
"I've had numbers of members, both Republicans and Democrats, tell me in private they would love to support the bill," Sviggum says, "but they can't just yet." —Mike Mosedale
Survival of the Fattest
Remember when the Department of Homeland Security told us to invest in duct tape if we hoped to survive a terrorist attack? Well, the shopping list just got a lot longer, according to a preparedness planning website launched last week as part of a Minnesota Department of Health public information campaign, dubbed "codeReady."
According to the interactive calculator at www.codeready.org, a family of four should stockpile a minimum of 120 gallons of water, 2,400 servings of preserved meats (110 cans of tuna fish would satisfy the protein requirement), and almost 100 other supplies, including not-so-everyday items like eyewash, signal flares, and heavy-duty plastic sheeting to seal doors and windows in case of a gas attack.
Curiously, the codeReady checklist doesn't call for much of the survival tool we'd assume most essential: money. Officials recommend having $20 on hand, plus a stack of quarters for good old-fashioned pay phones, should cell service be knocked out.
"Twenty dollars is a safe place to start; it's an amount people can have around the house," says Minnesota Department of Health and codeReady spokeswoman Emily Litt. "Most people don't have $1,000 around the house."
Especially not after buying all that food. —Beth Hawkins
The Twin Cities have received their fair share of accolades in recent years, from being deemed America's most literate city to having the country's fittest mayor. Last week brought another stunning honor bestowed by the Humane Society of the United States: Minneapolis-St. Paul ranks 13th out of the 25 largest metro areas in the country for "animal compassion."
How did we achieve such mediocrity? For starters, according to a press release touting the "first-ever Humane Index," we clearly don't have enough granola-munching Birkenstock wearers to compete with the top three finishers: San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. (Chicago, our kind of town, ranks dead last at number 25.)
And all you deer hunters are dragging us down: "Minneapolis-St. Paul ranks number 21 out of 25 when it comes to observing rather than killing wildlife. There are only 3.7 wildlife watchers for every hunter in Minnesota and Wisconsin."
The survey goes on to claim that the paucity of vegetarian restaurants in the Twin Cities is a strike against us. Conversely, the fact that the Metrodome offers veggie burgers at concessions stands—who knew?—gives us big ups.
Comparisons to other towns bring a few surprises. Houston, a major player in cattle country, actually has twice as many vegetarian restaurants as we do. We're in the middle of the pack for selling puppies at pet stores—an apparent no-no—failing to beat out roughneck towns like Boston. We're commended for being "in the top 10 when it comes to the least number of fur retailers, which is particularly notable given the cold climate," but the hot desert confines of Phoenix inexplicably rank 12th.
All of which suggests that this index is for the birds. —G.R. Anderson Jr.
When City Pages honored Dan Lacey with the "Best Locally Generated Blog (Right-Wing)" award, the outspoken moralist did the classiest thing he could think of: He put it up on eBay. And because Lacey didn't have the patience to wait for the award to arrive, he hastily scribbled a bogus certificate to hawk to the highest bidder.
Obviously, rejection hurts. But once we at City Pages HQ recovered from the pain, we scrounged up the actual certificate, which had yet to be mailed out, and started an auction of our own.
As of press time, Lacey's counterfeit award had attracted exactly zero bids. Ours, we are happy to report, sold on Friday for $22.50, to the creator of the Cucking Stool, which had won the award for "Best Locally Generated Blog (Left-Wing)." Explaining his bid, the winner wrote: "It would be fun to own 'em both."
As we promised, the proceeds of the auction will be donated to charity in Lacey's name. Considering that he is the creator of "Neverborn," a moon-eyed "abortion-angel," we figured Planned Parenthood of Minnesota would be appropriate. —Jonathan Kaminsky