Half Baked


Local potheads reacted to a major drug bust last week by threatening to kill the mechanic who ratted to the cops.

The smoky saga began when a mechanic at a Midas Muffler Shop was trying to fix a broken-down pickup. While examining the gas tank, he accidentally stumbled on 157 pounds of marijuana.

Who knew "the Midas touch" meant Acapulco gold?

The mechanic reported the THC treasure trove to St. Paul police, and they promptly arrested the couple who brought the truck in to be fixed.

But that's when things got really weird.

After being hailed as a hero by the dailies—which are staffed by people who wear D.A.R.E. shirts unironically—the mechanic started receiving death threats at the Midas shop, according to a police report filed last week.

It appears that local stoners, deprived of their calming cannabis, are directing their fury at the man who bogarted their stash.

"He's taking it seriously," says St. Paul Police Spokesman Tom Walsh. "He's disconcerted at best by it." —Kevin Hoffman


A Healthy Portfolio

Last summer, Commissioner of Health and Human Services Kevin Goodno resigned his post to become a lobbyist at the Minneapolis law firm Fredrikson & Byron. Whatever the move illustrates about Minnesota's lack of ethics laws, a look at recent lobbyist filings suggests it's been good to Goodno so far.

Since early December, Goodno represented 14 different clients. Not surprisingly, most of the concerns for which Goodno is lobbying are in the healthcare or housing business. This year, Goodno will push the agendas of the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, the ALS Association, the Epilepsy Foundation, and the nursing home Martin Luther Manor.

Warn Grandma: Hard times are coming. —Beth Hawkins


Love at First Quote

In the journalism business, they're known as "beat sweeteners"—puff pieces written with the hopes of getting tipped next time there's a real story.

But even by the standards of this unseemly tradition, the front-page kiss bestowed on U.S. attorney Rachel Paulose last week in the Pioneer Press reached new lows.

Over the course of the article, readers learned that the 33-year-old prosecutor "works herself hard, shorts herself on sleep, and sacrifices her social life in pursuit of justice." In addition, Paulose "moves gracefully," is "ethical in everything she does," and "serious in every endeavor she undertakes."

We also hear that her urine cures cancer.

It isn't until deep into the story that the reporter bothers to mention the recent controversy over the Bush administration's handling of U.S. attorney appointments. For those not keeping up, the White House has come under fire for firing seven U.S. attorneys and replacing them with political cronies.

Of course, our Rachel couldn't possibly be a Republican stooge. After all, she's "ethical in everything she does." —Paul Demko


Cold Hard Facts

Last week's dustup between International Falls, Minnesota, and Fraser, Colorado, over which city deserves the title "Icebox of the Nation" was like watching two kids in a loser contest.

Fraser partisans argued that their town was first to use the slogan, beginning in the 1950s. Boosters in the Falls fired back that their town has employed the moniker since 1948, that it trademarked the slogan in 1986, and—most indignantly—that it even paid Fraser $2,000 to relinquish its claim to the title.

If only inattentive city officials hadn't allowed the trademark to lapse, last week's battle over bragging rights would never have happened.

But neither Fraser nor the Falls really deserves the title. By most measures, neither city even cracks the top five coldest cities in the contiguous United States.

The title rightfully belongs to Stanley, Idaho, which has recorded the coldest daily temperatures on a total of 478 occasions since 1995.

In fact, the Falls doesn't even merit recognition as the "Icebox of Minnesota." According to Mark Seeley's Minnesota Weather Almanac, between 1971 and 2000 the average mean temperature in the Falls was 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That is tied or beaten by four other northern Minnesota communities: Cotton (37.4), Itasca (37.2), Warroad (37.1) and Tower (34.6).

Tower, incidentally, also holds the official record for the lowest temperature recorded in Minnesota—minus 60 on February 2, 1996. The temperature in the Falls that day? A balmy minus 45. —Mike Mosedale


Fat Chance

Last week, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that Sidney Ponson will join the team's five-man pitching starting rotation in April.

Just who is this man who will be taking the mound? A 260-pound head case with two DUI convictions, a jail record in Aruba for assaulting a judge, and a dismal 4-5 record with the Yankees last year.

But despite all the possible media storylines—second chances, a comeback year—Ponson has primarily been drilled on one subject: his gut.

True, Ponson's Buddha belly is among the league's proudest paunches, but come on. This is a team that counts the pumpkin-headed Dennys Reyes among its relievers. One of baseball's best qualities is that it allows fat dudes to make millions as athletes.

When questioned about his belly by the Strib, Ponson shot back: "What would you say about David Wells?"

Start pitching like David Wells, Sid, and you can eat all the Ding Dongs you want. —Chuck Terhark