Off Beat

When Is a Subsidiary Not a Subsidiary?


As city officials debate whether to declaw the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission--presumably to clear a path for Dayton Hudson to build a Target store downtown ("Civil Disobedience," 10/21)--the city's Department of Civil Rights has quietly erased the issue that gave rise to the controversy in the first place. When city attorneys debarred Dayton Hudson back in 1984, the corporation argued that it should not have to file an affirmative-action plan for its entire operation, but only for the segment of the company that wanted to do business with the city, Dayton's Commercial Interiors (DCI). Seventeen years later, the city has apparently come around to that point of view: Late last year the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights allowed DCI to file an affirmative-action plan for itself only, and restored the company to the city's list of approved contractors. That didn't sit well with Leon Rice, a Dayton Hudson stockholder and former employee who has complained to the department that the move violates city law. According to Civil Rights Commission Chair Lisa Albrecht, attorneys haven't yet gotten to the bottom of the matter, which would seem to hinge on the nature of DCI's relationship with Dayton Hudson. Dayton Hudson spokeswoman Susan Eich describes DCI as "a subsidiary" and refuses to elaborate on whether its status has changed since 1984. The way Albrecht sees it, if DCI is found to have "parallel, perpendicular, or hierarchical ties" to Dayton Hudson, she can't imagine it could be considered a separate concern. But even if Rice is right and the city did screw up, she adds, it was probably unintentional.

Honk If You Hate Speed Bumps

Minneapolis public-works staffers are beginning to understand what Sisyphus went through: All summer they've been installing the traffic-calming devices--speed bumps, extra parking bays, islands--that are fast becoming the rage in Minneapolis neighborhoods. Now those very same additions to the streetscape are about to wreak havoc on their snowplows. "Any plows that exert down-pressure have got to be very, very careful to pick up the blades when they go over the speed humps," says street maintenance engineer Mike Kennedy. "Anything that's in the way is a problem for us," he adds. "We don't like traffic-calming from a maintenance standpoint."

Don't Honk If You Hate Speed Bumps

In October meetings of both the Kenwood-Isles and Lowry Hill neighborhood associations, residents were warned that they could be ticketed if they leaned on their horns while crossing speed bumps. "Initially, when the speed bumps went in on Douglas Avenue, some disgruntled neighbors were expressing their displeasure by honking," explains Douglas Gardner, assistant to City Council member Lisa Goodman. "We told the neighbors that they can take down license-plate numbers and then call 911 or the nonemergency police number. My understanding from the police is that they would mail a letter warning [honkers] that they could be ticketed."

Look Out Below

It's months till Jesse's inauguration, but the rats seem already to have begun scurrying off Gov. Arne Carlson's ship of state. Delores Fridge, head of the Department of Human Rights, has announced to her staff that she's leaving in mid-November to take a job with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities as an associate chancellor for equal opportunity. Her new duties come with a salary of $97,300--same as her current wage. (When Fridge was appointed in 1996, the job paid $60,000. During a special session in 1997, the Legislature hiked her salary along with those of other agency heads.) Speaking of salaries, Tim Price, whom Fridge is replacing, was making only $84,000 a year, a pay rate MnSCU officials say he'll take with him when he assumes his new duties as a special assistant to one of the agency's senior vice chancellors. Finally, Off Beat can't help noticing that Fridge's parachute comes courtesy of MnSCU Interim Chancellor Morris Anderson, the former Carlson chief of staff who floated over in April 1997. Anderson now makes $109,000 plus a $20,000 annual housing allowance--the same as his predecessor.

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