On the heels of buyouts that cut some of the Star Tribune's most notable personalities, and in a week that saw new publisher Par Ridder smacked around in a lawsuit filed by his former employer, the daily paper of record announced its latest affront to homegrown journalism: a plan to save half a million bucks by outsourcing 25 jobs to India.
"This is the Minneapolis Star Tribune," says Mike Blazek, a business rep from Union Local 1-M, which represents the ad designers whose jobs are on the chopping block. "Do you want it to be the New Delhi Star Tribune?"
According to Pete Miller, a senior designer at the Strib, management first offered the employees the option to give up $20,000 each in salary and/or benefits and thus preserve the half-mil profit margin without the necessity of going all intercontinental. But the workers turned down the exciting cost-saving possibility.
"That's fighting for a job that isn't worth keeping," Miller says.
If the Strib goes forward with its plan, you can expect it to be implemented in June or July, and within six to nine months after that, your friendly neighborhood ad designer will be taking a rickshaw to work.
"I know the sales staff is concerned about what this means for our ad revenue," Miller says. "It's the logistics. We have car dealers that'll call on Thursday to get something changed...and we get it done. With the back and forth between two different countries, I don't know if it's as easy. There's time zone differences and all sorts of stuff that goes into it."
We called Strib spokesman Ben Taylor for comment, but never heard back from him. Perhaps the message got lost in translation. —Kevin Hoffman
Smart criminals keep a low profile. Ever notice how stickup guys usually wear a mask to hide their identity? But in this digital age, even stupid criminals have MySpace pages.
Meet Ryan Junior Lee, age 33, of Minneapolis. After he was arrested following a robbery at the Uptown Cheapo, he was charged with similar crimes at a Perkins Restaurant on the West Bank, the Fire Roast Mountain Café, the Burch Pharmacy & Gifts, the Richfield Liquor Store, and Pizza Lucé in Uptown.
After the big bust, an employee of one of the robbed business decided to see what she could find out about Lee. Naturally, she went to MySpace, where she soon learned quite a few things about the man who goes by the screen name "Devastator."
As weaknesses, Devastator writes: "Where do I start? Airplane glue, sluts." His perfect pizza consists of "ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, Xanax with extra cheese." He only gets motion sickness during drunken sex. His best physical feature is his dick, though he has "sweet pecs."
In a biographical entry, he writes that he was sent to "this rad planet called Earth" to "skate, get zorched, and start the ultimate band which will enslave all those in earshot.... All I want to do is make the world a sex slave camp for me and my Robot armies."
In the details section, Devastator—who lists his occupation as "breakdancing assassin"—says he earns $250,000 a year.
That's $50,000 more than he needs to post for bail as he awaits trial on six counts of aggravated robbery. —Mike Mosedale
Ballpark Frank Discussions
The unveiling of the design for the new Twins ballpark on Thursday brought out the kind of civic high-fiving that is the stuff of PR wet dreams. But during the pre-game drills at the Dome later that day, most Twins players were oblivious to the new design plans, which, after all, are merely drawings at this point, and won't be a reality until 2010 at the earliest. Some, like batting champ Joe Mauer, wanted to know how far a ball would have to be hit to get over the outfield fences (answer: pretty much the same as in the current stadium).
Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire gamely took questions from the media about the stadium schematics, hinting that he and Twins GM Terry Ryan made some suggestions to reps from HOK Sport, the main architecture firm on the project. "They wanted input on stuff like where the umpires would come out to the field," said Gardy, who has been known to take umbrage at the occasional bad call. "They wanted to know if we wanted them to come out through our dugout, and I said, 'Well, no.'"
Elsewhere, the reception to the stadium was less enthusiastic. "It's very disappointing that even with a small footprint to work with, all the levels above the lowest one are set back two miles from the field," says Neil deMause, co-author of the definitive stadium swindle book Field of Schemes and curator of the blog of the same name. "The view will be of Wisconsin." —G.R. Anderson Jr.
The Strib Giveth, But eBay Taketh Away
For Lisa Perry, the 45-year-old St. Paulite selling all her worldly possessions in an eBay auction, media coverage has been a mixed blessing.
Last Tuesday, the Strib ran a story about Perry's auction, which is apparently a Zen-inspired meditation on unloading slightly used skis. That morning, thanks in part to the story, which was well circulated on blogs, Perry's auction took off, reaching a high bid of $2,325 and climbing.
Then, just as things heated up, eBay shut it down. The free-spirited Perry had violated eBay rules by claiming without proof that proceeds from the auction would go to charity, a company spokeswoman told City Pages.
The auction was back online within a day. But with bidding starting over at zero, the auction lost momentum and never recovered. When it ended Sunday, the high bid was $880—well short of the minimum $2,000 Perry was asking.
"Pulling the auction was something they could have done after they talked with me to resolve the issue, and not before," she said. "Especially when they were getting incredible publicity and new members from the auction. Especially when they provided no way for me to contact a live human to correct the problem before they pulled it."
Still saddled with her worldly possessions, Perry is considering putting them up for auction once more—though this time, it won't be on eBay. "I'm thinking of going to Craigslist." —Jonathan Kaminsky