Off Beat

An Open Invitation to Friends of Sara Jane Olson

Along with everyone else, we've been transfixed by the recent twists in the Sara Jane Olson case. Weeks ago, after Olson reiterated her guilty plea to the judge, we e-mailed the Sara Olson Defense Fund Committee in the hope that Olson might agree to elaborate on her reasons, as a follow-up to the story we published last winter ("Trial & Era," December 13, 2000). We thought, perhaps naïvely, that our efforts, which were recognized last year by Olson's supporters and critics alike, might weigh in our favor. When we heard back, it was an e-mail from Olson herself:

"The mainstream media, of which City Pages is a part, finds it nearly impossible to present 'my side of the story' clearly and fairly. Many of my 'supporters' (not personal friends who are rarely quoted) in the Twin Cities have backpedaled furiously in their support since I made the plea. Many have done so, I assume, due to the rightwing poltical [sic] fallout after the events of September 11 where even a whiff of liberalness is a political death knell. [St. Paul DFL state Rep.] Andy Dawkins admitted as much to my husband. While you may be sincere in your request, the inevitable plethora of nasty, 'name withheld' letters to the editor that will follow and that will ALL be printed is not worth it to me."

Notice is hereby served that if any of Sara Jane Olson's "personal friends who are rarely quoted" would like to be quoted, we will be more than happy to oblige.

While we're waiting, we're left to ponder what brand of "liberalness" advocates censoring free speech. (For the record: Only one of the six letters to the editor about our story last year--letters that, it should be pointed out, offered a variety of opinions--withheld the writer's name.) --By Leyla Kokmen


Beer Money

St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and mayor-elect Randy Kelly have proposed a citywide restaurant and bar tax of up to three percent to pay for a new stadium for the Minnesota Twins. Sounds innocent enough, right?

Well, let's say your beverage of choice is Guinness and your neighborhood watering hole is the Dubliner Pub on University Avenue. A pint of Guinness at the Dubliner costs $4.25. Add three percent and the price goes up 13 cents. Now let's say you like your Guinness enough to consume four pints every evening. (This is perhaps more than Andrew Weil, M.D., would prescribe, but certainly in line with what many of our citizens imbibe.) At this rate the stadium tax would cost you 52 cents a day, or $3.64 a week. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $189.28--or the price of 45 pints of Guinness at the Dubliner.

Now, Mayor Coleman has yet to lay out exactly how many years such a tax would have to be in place in order to cover the city's proposed $150 million share of a new stadium. But let's conservatively posit that the levy will be in place for five years. By the time it expires, you will have contributed $946.40 to the cause. At current rates, that's enough to purchase a general-admission season ticket each year--and still have $200 left over for beer! --By Paul Demko

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