When Pi Press-turned-Strib publisher Par Ridder took the stand in Ramsey County District Court last Tuesday, one question loomed over the proceedings: Is he a thief, or just a schmuck?
The hearing pitted the Pioneer Press against the Star Tribune to determine whether Ridder poached talent and trade secrets when he jumped from the St. Paul daily to its Minneapolis competitor in March.
Looking every bit the boarding-school rich kid during some four hours of withering questioning, the 38-year-old newspaper scion emerged as neither crook nor cad, but as a computer geek. Ridder explained that he was merely transferring spreadsheets to continue building on a record-keeping process he had built up during some 10 years in the newspaper biz.
"I use Google desktop because I never throw anything away," Ridder said, referring to the archive he maintained as "massive." "This way I can do a keyword search for a file."
Then Ridder turned defensive. "The iTunes folder came up yesterday," he said, referring to an issue addressed during testimony on Monday. "There was nothing in the iTunes."
In that case, allow us to suggest a few choice cuts for Par's 'Pod: How about the old Hank weeper, "Your Cheatin' Heart"? Or Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run?" And, depending on Judge David C. Higgs' decision, which is due any day now: "I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)." —G.R. Anderson Jr.
Taking the party of out GOP
Since 1976, presidential conventions' influence on the nominating process has all but vanished. Nowadays, they serve more as morale-boosting pep rallies and opportunities for lobbyists to woo lawmakers via orgasmic frenzies of decadence. Think surf 'n' turf washed down with $400 bottles of Riesling.
But when Republicans roll into Minneapolis for their party convention, they might encounter a much more Spartan scene. Looking to buttress a pending lobbyist reform bill, Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have added language that would prohibit senators from attending "lavish convention parties."
"These events have come to symbolize both the excess and the access of some lobbyist-lawmaker relationships," reads the June 21 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The Senate is presently negotiating a finalized bill with the House of Representatives. Both chambers passed the original form in January.
Convention organizers doubt the bill will put a damper on the four-day-long festivities. "We're confident we'll have a well-orchestrated, well-attended convention and we look forward to it," says Minneapolis-based RNC pressman Matt Burns, who's assigned to the convention.
Regardless of the bill's fate, the Republican über-rally will entail more business than pleasure for Burns. "I'll be working, my friend," he chuckles. "We have 15,000 media personnel coming in. And now with the 24/7 news cycle, there will be added responsibilities and benefits." —Matt Snyders
The battle over the land for the new Twins stadium heated up again last week as hearings were held in Hennepin County District Court to determine the value of the 8.8 acres that will house the hometown nine.
What's it worth? If you believe the attorneys for the landowners, Rich Pogin and Bruce Lambrecht, the land is worth some $65 million. But Hennepin County officials say it's only worth half the $17 million the county is willing to chip in.
Some of the inflated purchase price may be due to the recent sale of four Star Tribune plots to Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, for $45 million. Pogin told the Strib that those lots were only valued by the county at $17 million, meaning the county is also grossly underestimating the true market value of his land.
Pogin's fuzzy math rankled more than just Twins fans anxious to get on with building the ballpark already.
"It did piss me off a little bit when Rich Pogin said what he thought our land was worth," Vikings VP of public affairs Lester Bagley told us last Thursday out at Winter Park. "Don't tell us what you think our land is worth and I won't comment on what I think your land is not worth. Don't get into speculating on what our property is worth and we'll return the favor. I know Bruce Lambrecht really well, so I was able to call him and leave a nasty voicemail about it." —G.R. Anderson Jr.
Norm vs. NORML
When Republican Sen. Norm Coleman came out against legalizing marijuana, there was one person more surprised than most: the dude he used to smoke doobies with.
Norm Kent, an attorney and NORML board member, says that he toked with Coleman on many occasions during the duo's antiwar days at Hofstra University.
So in a scathing yet jovial open letter posted on the website celebstoner.com, Kent called out the senator on his dope-dissing duplicity:
"How about admitting that if the Rockefeller drug laws were applied to Norman Bruce Coleman on Long Island in 1968, or to me, or to our friends and fellow students, you, I, and others we knew and loved might just be getting out of jail now?"
Coleman did not return calls requesting comment, so we'll let Coleman-from-1969 do the talking, via a letter to the campus newspaper when he was promoting his run for student senate: "I know these conservative kids don't fuck or get high like we do." —Matt Snyders