And You Thought the Vikings Coverage Was Excessive
Off Beat's not being taken in by any of this Y2K nonsense. Sure, we'll hit the money machine for a couple hundred extra bucks to tide us over the New Year's weekend like everyone else, but beyond that we'll take our chances. Which is why we really feel for our Millennium Bug-bitten brethren at the Star Tribune, where management circulated a memo last week addressing a deadly serious theme: a moratorium on vacations. "We face a special challenge this winter as the new millennium approaches...," the note began. "Effective immediately, all vacation and time-off requests for 1999 must be approved by your manager." Strib editor Tim McGuire says the paper is targeting the first ten days of January as the most crucial period for keeping a tight rein on staffers. "During the week of an election, you'll have the same kind of thing--we'll clamp down on vacations," McGuire explains. "In fact, there are a number of events when we'll say we need all hands on deck, especially from department to department. During this year's NFL run, for instance, it was clear to everyone in the sports department that we'd need as many bodies as possible. This may be the most notable and boldest example, though--there's so many issues, especially if it turns into the story that some people predict." The Strib isn't taking any chances with its own computer system, either. According to flack Frank Parisi, this summer the paper will complete a test of all its "critical systems." Says Parisi: "We think we're in good shape, but it's good to work out any kinks in advance."
The newest, decidedly unofficial Web site about the guv we luv to cov: Ventura Byway, www.pconline.com/~millcity/ventura1/ventura1.htm, satirizes Jesse Ventura's penchant for marketing himself. The site touts a plethora of Venturabilia, from T-shirts bearing the slogan "My Governor Has a Bigger Mouth Than Your Governor" to bumper stickers that say "Concealed Weapons for Everyone" to to-die-for action figures that cast our gube as a drag queen--Cross Dress Jesse. Attempts to order the "products" yield a page containing the address and phone number of the governor's office. Tom Dolan, the 56-year-old Minneapolis artist who launched the site on February 18, says he was inspired to do so after Ventura's personal attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to a state worker who'd sold a few Ventura-themed greeting cards. Though he voted for Ventura, Dolan adds, he has been irked by such postelection antics and sees the site as a way of "just venting." And despite the fact that he's not actually selling anything, he half-expects to generate some official interest from the governor's camp: "I'm waiting to hear from the attorneys for Jesse Ventura," Dolan quips. "I would welcome an attempt on their part to quash it. I don't feel intimidated by them." Meanwhile, the wait for an official gubernatorial Web site (see Off Beat, 1/27) drags on. The ostensibly Internet-savvy governor's former campaign site (www.jesseventura.org) is hawking those coveted action figures, but Ventura and crew still have not managed to come through with anything on the state's North Star Web page (www.state.mn.us).
You Lose Some...And You Win Some
On February 1 a U.S. District Court jury in Minneapolis awarded Leland Stauch $120,000 for emotional distress and loss of equity resulting from the forced sale of his buildings to the city of Columbia Heights (see Mary Ellen Egan's story "On Closer Inspection," in the 1/6 issue of City Pages). Stauch's attorney, Tom White, says that while his client failed to prevail on his claim that the city's actions amounted to racial discrimination, the decision upholds his contention that "the city violated Stauch's right to due process when they posted that his buildings weren't licensed when they actually were. The city broke the law and the Constitution." The verdict gives Stauch the right to seek that the city pay his attorney's fees and court costs; White says a ruling on that request is pending.
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