Off Beat

Bulworth Does Wellstone

A friend recently passed along an invitation to a November 28 fundraiser in San Francisco for U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. You know the drill: So-and-so and so-and-so invite you to a reception, blah-blah-blah. The price of admission was $250 ("friend"), $500 ("sponsor"), and $1,000 ("co-host").

Valet parking was provided, naturally. But the real inducement was the "special guest": Warren Beatty. Evidently the man who swore up and down that he wouldn't be stumping for the Senate in 2002 has come even further than we thought.

The event--a two parter (cocktail reception followed by dinner)--was largely the work of Susie Tomkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing line, prominent Democratic donor, and good friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton. We're told the proceedings went off as scheduled--the exception being that Wellstone was in Washington making legislation and couldn't attend (or perhaps campaign-finance matters still give him the heebie-jeebies?), so his wife Sheila had to go it alone. About 75 people ponied up a total of $60,000, says Buell's assistant, Michelle Maine, adding that although she was busy running around she heard that Beatty spoke for quite some time at both functions and was "witty and charming." --By Tom Finkel and Britt Robson


Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

R.T. Rybak is a real go-getter, what with jumping into the fray to save the Twins and publicly swapping ideas with fellow mayor-elect Randy Kelly of St. Paul. (Must be all that wheat grass he purports to consume.) Still, one task looms large now that the campaign's over: What to do with the orphaned lawn signs that have been dumped in his lap?

A few weeks ago Rybak campaign co-chair Laura Sether circulated an e-mail. "Calling All Campaigns! Lawnsigns for the following campaigns have been mistakenly dropped off at the Rybak for Mayor campaign office during last week's lawnsign collection efforts," it began, followed by a list of about a dozen names. "These signs can be picked up from the office's parking lot (2429 Nicollet Av S) at any time," Sether concluded.

"I'd guess there's probably about 50 signs here," Sether's co-chair Peter Wagenius reports two weeks later. The problem, Wagenius says, is that while collecting their candidate's signs after the election, some of Rybak's overzealous volunteers picked up some strays. It's a good thing, he notes, in that it keeps the city clean, and several campaigns "further down on the ballot" lack the volunteer base to collect their signs in a timely fashion. "But it would be nice to see them take it upon themselves to come get them now," he adds.

A Minneapolis ordinance requires that signs be removed ten days after the general election. The onus is on the campaigns, explains Susanne Griffin, the city's director of elections. "They get permission to put them on the lawn, so it wouldn't be fair to go after the homeowner. But I'm not aware of anyone ever being charged for a violation."

Wagenius, the son of state Rep. Jean Wagenius and at the tender age of 30 a veteran of several campaigns, isn't sure what he'll do if the signs aren't reclaimed. "Theoretically they're only recyclable into other signs," he muses. "Or you keep them if you plan to run again. We're keeping ours." --By G.R. Anderson Jr.


Gutting It Out With Dan Barreiro

Longtime readers of the Star Tribune's sports page could not have been surprised by the various tacks taken by the paper's columnists after the Vikings' dismal 13-6 loss to the Chicago Bears. Sid Hartman voiced his customary despair over the team's dwindling playoff chances. Patrick Reusse celebrated quarterback Daunte Culpepper's stoicism injury. And Dan Barreiro excoriated Randy Moss, writing that the star receiver was observed at one point admiring himself on the Jumbotron "in all of his gutless majesty."

A nice turn of phrase, to be sure. But one that seemed somehow familiar. As is our custom when our interest is thus piqued (See "Sid Plays Bawl," November 7), we turned to the trusty Nexis news database--where we learned that the columnist has employed the term "gutless" on no fewer than 26 occasions, beginning with a July 17, 1992 column assailing former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot as "the gutless Texan."

Who is most responsible for this epidemic lack of intestinal fortitude? Leading the pack are the Minnesota Vikings, who have merited three mentions for collective cowardice and three more for individual weenieness. (Along with Moss, former defensive lineman Fernando Smith and head coach Dennis Green have been singled out.) On three occasions Barreiro has seen fit to question the courage of anti-stadium legislators. And in an impressive blow for gender equity, he has twice found University of Minnesota women's athletic director Chris Voelz lacking. Other victims include Twins owner Carl Pohlad, former Wichita State pitcher Ben Christensen, and the anonymous gossips who suggested that the murder of Michael Jordan's father was connected to the star's gambling habits.

It's plain that Barreiro calls them as he sees them. And that, we can surely all agree, takes guts. : --By Mike Mosedale

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