[Editor's note: A correction ran concerning this story; see end of article.]
Coincidence? We Don't Think So
WHEN LAST WEEK'S issue of City Pages hit the stands, Dr. Ron Falcon was still planning his appeal of a military administrative discharge board's decision that he owed the U.S. Air Force some $84,000. The air force kicked the Minneapolis physician out last year for violating the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy requiring that gay service members keep their homosexuality secret; in Falcon's discharge hearing last September, the government also argued that Falcon had breached his "contractual obligation" to the military and should therefore pay back the cost of his medical education. As our cover story on the case went to press, Falcon's attorney, Kyle White, was drawing up a brief for the Eighth District Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the air force itself had violated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by aggressively investigating an anonymous tip concerning Falcon's sexual orientation. But on Thursday, Falcon and White got word from the nonprofit advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) that the appeal would be unnecessary. According to Jeff Cleghorn, a legal staff member at SLDN, the Undersecretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., is in the process of overturning the discharge board's decision. "The rationale behind the change-up is quite simple," Cleghorn, who is still waiting for written confirmation of the reversal, says. "Dr. Falcon demonstrated at his separation hearing that...he wanted to serve, but the circumstances of his case forced him to disclose parts of his personal life." Off Beat's calls to the Pentagon press office went unreturned. But we can't help noticing that the apparent reversal comes in concert with the Defense Department's announcement last week that it is drawing up new guidelines intended to limit aggressive investigations of service members' sexual orientation. Falcon, who since his honorable discharge has been practicing medicine in Uptown, says he's "happy as a clam" to learn that the air force wouldn't be sending bill collectors anytime soon.
HERE'S A POSER: Who gossips about the gossip columnist? C.J.'s byline disappeared from the Star Tribune's Metro section for several weeks in late May and early June, after she threw a glass of water at a photographer at a University of Minnesota fundraiser (see Off Beat, May 19 and 26). But then it was back to the thrice-weekly grind--or so it seemed. On July 18, in lieu of their Sunday C.J. fix, devoted fans were treated to this witty message on the Metro section front: "C.J. is off. You knew that." Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday since then, it has been: "C.J. is on a leave of absence." More intrigue? More water sports? Though her voice mail's still up and running, the protagonist didn't return Off Beat's call. No one in the newsroom seems to know what's going on, and editor Tim McGuire won't say. "She's on a personal leave," he allows. "It's her call and her choice, and that's all I can say about it." When can we expect to see her column again? "I believe she'll be back around the first of September," McGuire ventures after some hesitation.
Why Don't You Kale Me
LOOKS LIKE THE Minneapolis City Attorney's Office has gone soft on vegetables: On August 10 the county dropped charges against City Pages contributor Miki Mosman and two codefendants, in a case stemming from their display of bodies adorned with the leafy greens during Minneapolis's May Day parade. As reported here May 12, the three were cited for violating a city statute requiring "proper clothing" on park land; they could have faced a maximum fine of $700 or 90 days in jail. But when the defendants arrived in Hennepin County District Court judge Roberta Levy's courtroom last week, prosecutors offered to let the case go; the defendants' records will stay clean as long as they are not charged with the same or a similar offense within the next year. That means means no parading around in vegetables next May Day--a major disappointment to Off Beat: We had been nursing a fantasy in which the roughage warriors marched down Bloomington Avenue (maybe bearing posters of Carmen Miranda and Josephine Baker?), with naked parks commissioners and cops lining the route, chanting praises and scattering rose petals at their feet.
Correction published 8/25/99:
In the originally published Off Beat item, the prosecuting agency was mistakenly identified as the Hennepin County Attorney rather than the Minneapolis City Attorney. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text. City Pages regrets the error.
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