Off Beat Was Born in a Small Town
While out for a drive one day last week, Off Beat was treated to a John Mellencamp minibonanza on the radio. This in itself wasn't odd, of course. Nor was it particularly unusual that the Mellencamp-o-rama came courtesy of this town's two rock behemoths, the ABC Radio Group's KQRS (92.5 FM) and Chancellor Broadcasting Inc.'s Cities 97 (KTCZ, 97.1 FM). What was bizarre was that simultaneously, each station was plodding through its playlist in alphabetical order. Cities 97 program director Lauren MacLeash says that's because the folks at KQ are a bunch of copycats. "This is our fifth year of doing 'A to Z' as a holiday gift for our listeners," laughs MacLeash, who says she brought the idea to Minneapolis after having found success with it in other markets. "The second year, [KQRS] started three days after ours. I started four days earlier this year just to see if they were going to do it again. Fifteen minutes later, they go on the air with theirs." KQ program director Dave Hamilton is evasive about the timing, allowing only that "we've traditionally started in December." But he flatly disputes MacLeash's claim that she brought the concept to the metro. "We were doing 'A to Z' three years before Lauren rolled into town," says White, a 13-year KQ vet.
Not long ago, City Pages published Mary Ellen Egan's story about a nonprofit developer's plan to boot low-income tenants from a New Hope apartment complex to make room for...other low-income tenants ("Musical Chairs," 11/25). Though residents say they were told at the time that construction wouldn't commence for another few weeks, a work crew arrived last Monday. "The place is a mess," complains tenant Sandy Lego. "There are huge sand piles everywhere, and the mailman has quit delivering because he can't make it through to our boxes." Tom White, the residents' lawyer, is livid. "The families were told they had until December 18 to move and that construction wouldn't begin until the 22nd," fumes the attorney, who also alleges that the developer, Minneapolis-based Project for Pride in Living (PPL), went so far as to call the local elementary school and tell them not to bother sending a school bus anymore. December 18 is indeed the move-out date, confirms PPL director Steve Cramer, but the group never made any promises about when work would start, and they had nothing to do with any school-bus snafu. "Those are our buildings, we own them, and we have a right to conduct our business as we see fit," he asserts.
Seems like everywhere you turn, someone's talking about police departments' pursuit policies. Well, City Pages wrote about it three months ago, after two women were killed by a minivan whose driver was fleeing Minneapolis police ("Hot Pursuit," 9/9). Since then, five more people have died and at least three others have been injured in accidents involving police pursuits around the metro. Wondering whether the spate of deaths might have prompted renewed scrutiny of chase policies, Off Beat made a few calls. The answer? Nope. St. Paul Police Commander Doug Wills says his department's policy isn't under revision, adding that an October 21 fatality--which occurred when suspects who had sold crack cocaine to undercover officers attempted to flee and crashed into a car five blocks away--hardly amounted to a chase at all. Says Wills: "I don't think the police officers even had the chance to pursue them." The Minneapolis Police Department, where officials are maintaining that a November 27 crash that resulted in the deaths of two young men wasn't technically a chase, is finalizing revisions to its chase policy. Commenting for Gilyard's story in September, Inspector David Indrehus termed those revisions a "fine-tuning." Asked to comment in light of the recent incidents, MPD spokeswoman Penny Parrish will say only this: "It is just making us continue to review what we had already started reviewing."
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