Mutiny at the Strib

From publisher to human target: Par Ridder isn't making any friends at his new job

There's a mutiny underway on Portland Avenue. Last week the Star Tribune's 25 union stewards unanimously authorized a vote on whether embattled publisher Par Ridder should be fired.

"Why not show to the world that we share the same concerns they have with our publisher?" asks business reporter Chris Serres, vice chair for the Strib's bargaining unit. "Why not show our readers that?"

The vote is a reaction to the lawsuit filed against Ridder, which accuses him of violating a non-compete agreement when he jumped from the Pioneer Press to the Star Tribune in March. A judge is currently weighing whether Ridder will be prohibited from filling the new post.

There was some discussion among union officials about whether they should hold off until there is a ruling in the lawsuit. But ultimately they decided that they already knew enough to throw Ridder over the side. "Regardless of whether what he did is legal, regardless of what the court decides, we have our own standards," says Serres. —Paul Demko


Clipped by Clear Channel

Even with all the shake-ups in the local media these days, Clear Channel's cold-hearted canning of Mick Anselmo, the regional president and market manager for the radio behemoth, came as a shock.

Anselmo was in Ontario on a business trip with a client and found out about his firing from his wife, who put in an emergency call to his cell phone.

"It's business and it happens," Anselmo says. "Anytime you have an employment contract at this level, this is the way things can go."

Anselmo helped start K102 more than two decades ago and built KFAN into one of the nation's first sports-talk stations. But while ratings for the company's seven Twin Cities stations are holding steady, revenues are not. Also, some have noted the profound failure of KTLK (100.3-FM), the new home for Rush, Hannity, and local right-wing bloviator Jason Lewis.

Tom Mooney, regional controller for Clear Channel, refused to comment. He referred us to a number at Clear Channel's headquarters in San Antonio. The number, like Anselmo, was no longer in service. —G.R. Anderson Jr.


What Do You Call 900 Unemployed Lawyers?

Next Tuesday morning, nearly 900 wannabe lawyers will descend on the Grand Ballroom at St. Paul's Rivercentre for a two-day rite of passage known as the Minnesota State Bar Exam.

This year's crop represents a nearly 40 percent rise in the number of aspiring advocates since 2002, thanks largely to the establishment of Minnesota's fourth law school at St. Thomas five years ago. Can the marketplace absorb all these new lawyers?

"Absolutely not," says Tom Plunkett, a longtime criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis, who has seen his talented young law clerks struggle to land jobs in recent years.

Plunkett says a glutted market means more young lawyers striking out on their own, taking on too many cases at cut-rate prices, and, inevitably, providing their clients less-than-stellar representation.

"It's that old cliché," Plunkett says. "There's nothing more expensive than a cheap lawyer."

Well, maybe one thing: law school loans when you can't find a job. —Jonathan Kaminsky


Green with Envy

In an apparent bid to match its cross-river rival, Minneapolis last week sought to attract a national political convention of its own.

But with the Democrats claimed by Denver and the Republicans set to goose step into St. Paul, the only convention left in play was the Green Party.

In the contest to land the Greens, Minneapolis faces stiff competition from Chicago and Detroit. Less formidable competitors include Wall Drug, South Dakota, and Shermer, Illinois.

If approved, the convention's presence could bring an estimated 1,500 people to Minneapolis, including 190 freelance graphic designers and 328 sociology professors. No word yet on how much economic impact the Greens might have on the city, but local pot dealers are voicing restrained optimism.

A final decision is expected by August 15, unless Ralph Nader's presence forces the issue to go to the Supreme Court. —Matt Snyders


Diablo Cody Appears in Playboy

That got your attention, didn't it? Alas, the City Pages blogger kept her clothes on.

"I wanted to be naked, but for some reason they weren't interested in that," she says. "Maybe they were worried about my penis."

Instead of focusing on her naughty bits, the Playboy article chronicles Cody's unlikely rise from Minneapolis stripper to Hollywood darling and screenwriter of the upcoming Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) movie, Juno.

"When you read a screenplay where every time the writer has to make a decision, the decision is unexpected, that's special," Reitman is quoted as saying.

The August issue of Playboy is on newsstands now. This one, at least, is worth buying for the articles. —Corey Anderson

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