When Alixandra Taylor interviewed for a job at Motion International, a Minneapolis-based computer consulting company, she was told to expect the occasional "gray joke." But that hardly prepared the 35-year-old for what she encountered upon starting work last September.
During a January staff meeting, Taylor was asked why she broke up with her boyfriend, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court. Taylor responded that he was too traditional for her taste. To which Motion's president allegedly quipped, "What, he won't fuck you in the ass?"
In February, a co-worker handed over to Taylor 24 pages of emails exchanged by the company's president and business development manager (neither of whom are named in the lawsuit). The discourse is sufficiently crude to make Jenna Jameson uncomfortable. Taylor is variously referred to as the "Chick With Dick" or the "Chewbacca Bitch Beast."
Then there's this charming exchange about Taylor's current boyfriend:
Business development manager: He must have some serious deviant needs himself. I bet he punches her and shit like that
President: I bet he pees on her and she takes it happily with an open mouth! :)
According to the lawsuit, Taylor reported the questionable workplace behavior to the company's chief executive and was promised that an investigation would be completed. Less than a week later, she was fired.
"She was pretty shocked, obviously, at the graphic nature of them," her attorney, Steven Andrew Smith, says of the emails. "But I think she was more devastated by the termination."
Ferdinand Peters, the attorney representing Motion International, says the company is in the process of investigating the claims in the lawsuit. "It's too early to really comment on behalf of my client," he says. —Paul Demko
In his vigilant battle to keep heterosexual marriage safe, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has slapped down another dangerous threat: gay hospital patients and their loved ones.
The Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill in its original form included a provision intended to allow gays to visit their hospitalized partners—which heteros are able to do upon marriage.
But extending emergency room and ambulance rights to homosexual couples would require acknowledging their partnerships—a first step in what the Minnesota Family Council, a strong opponent of the measure, calls "the incremental assault on marriage."
Enter Governor Pawlenty, waving his veto-stick in defense of hetero-marriage. "I am opposed to any legislation concerning domestic partners benefits," he declared.
Knowing that the bill would be vetoed in its original form, Democrats decided to push a neutered version instead—one that Ann DeGroot of OutFront said accomplishes a whole lot of nothing.
"This is about human beings' ability to be with one another," says DeGroot. "If people cannot be with the person they share their life with at such a time of need, it harms the healing process." —Ward Rubrecht
Interview with a Vampire
Documentary filmmaker Tray White tries not to take it personally when Jonathon Sharkey threatens to kill him.
"Sometimes, he'll send out these bulletins, saying if I mock him in any way, he's going to impale me," White says. "If I'm in a bad enough mood, I'll call him and be like, 'Dude, what is your problem? Enough!' Then I won't talk to him for a couple of weeks."
Sharkey, you might recall, is the self-proclaimed satanic vampire who ran for governor of Minnesota in 2006 on a 13-point platform that included a promise to personally impale any and all wrongdoers on the steps of the governor's mansion.
After the Fort Worth-based White stumbled across Sharkey's campaign slogan on the internet—"unlike most politicians, I won't hide my evil side"—he knew he'd found his next movie.
For the next eight months, he trailed the satanic dark priest/sanguinary vampire, documenting the media freak show of the campaign and, just as importantly, trying to answer the big question: Is this guy for real?
"I wish I knew but I don't," White says. "Sometimes I think it's an act and all about getting attention. Other times I think he's insane. Other times I think he's a nice guy who happens to worship Satan."
White hasn't seen Sharkey in the flesh since the final day of filming. If all goes as planned, that will change this week when White and Sharkey will appear at the Oak Street Cinema for the American debut of Impaler.
White says he is more curious than nervous about how Sharkey will respond to his movie, which he characterizes as "kind of an art film but without being sucky."
"I don't think he's gonna feel he was mocked, but I think he's going to be upset that other people's opinions are put on camera that don't put him in a good light," White says.
White still considers Sharkey a friend. "He's not a bad guy. He has some personality problems, like most of us, but I don't have a problem with him," White says. "I trust him as much as the next guy." —Mike Mosedale
Strib Shrinks As Grow Goes
Metro columnist Doug Grow confirmed last week that he would be taking the buyout and leaving the Star Tribune.
"It's time to pursue other opportunities," Grow quips. "Many a VP has left our company in pursuit of other opportunities, and now it's moving down the ranks."
Grow was one of the few opinion scribes in town who left his desk for reasons other than getting another Mr. Pibb. He also jokes that he came cheap: "You could do this, too, if you lower your expectations and have low salary demands."
Modesty aside, Grow clearly placed high demands on his own work. He was the rare marquee name around town who wasn't above sweating it out at jam-packed community meetings in church basements. That humility apparently carried over in the newsroom.
"He's the guy who always makes sure he isn't 'getting in your way' when he does a column on your beat," testifies reporter Rochelle Olson. "He's also 'suggested' many stories to me that ended up on A1. So on a professional level, he's a prince, but he's the same on a personal level."
As for the future, Grow remains uncertain. "My kids—I have two grown children—will be laughing at me, because I was always on their ass to get a job with great benefits," he says. "One thing I won't do: I don't think I'll be freelancing. This has got to be the most glutted freelance market in the country." —G.R. Anderson Jr.