Mayor to Arrested Journalists: Drop Dead

Evidence that Newt did not make use of St. Paul's complimentary bicycles
Kevin Hoffman for City Pages

For a city leadership that spent so much time trying to convince everyone that the convention was in Minneapolis, too, Mayor R.T. Rybak's office suddenly wants very little to do with hosting the RNC, especially those nasty reports of police brutality and journalist arrests.

"They happened in another city," says Rybak's spokesman Jeremy Hanson.

The Minneapolis police that were involved in the events that occurred in St. Paul were under the command of the St. Paul Police Department, he continued. "We don't normally investigate others."

Although last Friday Rybak told reporters there would be a formal review of the security measures during the convention, Hanson later backpedaled. It seems the mayor misspoke. The city will gather reports from the police department, civil rights groups, and its attorneys to investigate the 100 or so arrests that occurred in Minneapolis, but it's going to be nothing like the in-depth investigation that Rybak's earlier statements might have implied.

"This isn't going to be a formal investigation or comprehensive review," Hanson says. "Mayor Rybak thinks the RNC was a success." —Beth Walton

Meanwhile, in Occupied St. Paul...

Harboring concerns about how the police handled the RNC? Were you swept up in the absurdly wide dragnet that caught not only protesters, but journalists and curious bystanders as well? Don't fret. The proper authorities are looking into it. Kind of.

The city of St. Paul has tapped former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger and former assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Luger to lead the "Public Safety Planning and Implementation Review," which will not—we repeat not—explore allegations of police wrongdoing. Rather, the investigation will examine the generalities of law enforcement's overall strategy vis-à-vis the RNC.

"What they can't do is go into the details of police action on a case-by-case basis," says St. Paul Deputy Mayor Ann Mulholland. "They are looking at the broader scope and implementation of the plan."

Adds Heffelfinger:

"The mayor and we agreed that this assignment would not include an analysis of the legal implications of any alleged police misconduct. Those situations will be resolved elsewhere, such as criminal courts and civilian review boards." —Matt Snyders

Like a Republican needs a bicycle

While Freewheelin's RNC bicycle-sharing experiment was an overall success, more than twice as many folks checked out bikes in Denver than in the Twin Cities.

Even at altitude, Democratic delegates, elected officials, media, and others took 5,552 rides. But in our humble Midwestern cities that boast the nation's second-highest percentage of people who bike to work, only 1,971 people checked out bicycles. And judging from an up-close look at his girth, we're pretty sure Newt Gingrich was not one of them.

"In Denver, we had seven bike stations within a mile or two of the convention center," says Jim Turner from Humana, a sponsor of the event. "Everything was in a small area."

It wasn't just the spread-out nature of the RNC that made cycling at the RNC lame. In St. Paul, the extremely large security boarders around the Xcel, coupled with the overall crappy nature of cycling in downtown, combined to keep Republicans from pedaling. Then there was also all that tear gas....

"Yeah, it didn't go as well as we'd hoped," says Shaun Murphy with the city of Minneapolis. "But the first day was canceled and the next day it rained. Plus, the delegates were getting bused place to place."

While the elephants didn't take as many rides, they at least made the most of each trip. The average distance folks pedaled in the Twin Cities was 7.7 miles. That beats Denver riders, who only went 4.8 miles per ride. And with each mile ridden, the Humana Foundation and Bikes Belong Foundation chipped in $10 to the American Red Cross Hurricane-Relief Fund.

"We raised $151,414 in pretty much three days of riding," says Freewheelin's Laura Lee Munson. —Bradley Campbell

Through glasses, darkly

While Sara Palin was mocking community organizers at the Republican National Convention, some viewers didn't seem to notice. It turns out they were infatuated with something else: the speaker's spectacles.

Of all the businesses in the Twin Cities that were supposed to profit from the RNC, it's the opticians who are screaming about cash money.

"It's a frenzy," says Jane Beck with Moss Optical in downtown Minneapolis. "Over the past couple of days we've had five or six inquiries from people coming in and saying we want those glasses. It's got the buzz going."

One woman even called the store all the way from South Carolina looking for the $350 Kazuo Kawasaki rimless frames. Palin's specific style from the Japanese designer's 704 series is 34 grey, a model that wasn't particularly popular before the RNC.

For a while, rimless frames were actually going out style, says Rachel Rainaldo, manager at Minneapolis's Vision World. But now they are back in high demand. Every day for the last two weeks, at least one person has come in asking for specs like Palin's. And Vision World doesn't even stock the frames! (The store leads customers to a knock-off brand for $150.)

"Business is still good," Rainaldo says. "We haven't seen people come in here like this since the Malcolm X movie came out." —Beth Walton

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