The fates of 14 Star Tribune reporters who work for the newspaper's soon-to-be-defunct weekly suburban editions have been in limbo in recent weeks. Negotiations on their future jobs have been ongoing between Strib brass and representatives of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild.
At a bargaining session last Wednesday, management suddenly threw down an ultimatum: Accept the deal currently on the table, or all 14 jobs might be eliminated.
"It was just ass-backward, unfair bargaining," says union representative Chris Serres, a business reporter at the paper. "It's the equivalent of sitting down to discuss a contract and having one of the parties pull out a gun."
Although embattled publisher Par Ridder was not present at the negotiating session, it was understood that the threat came directly from his office.
The very next morning, Ramsey County Judge David Higgs ruled that Ridder must vacate the publishing post for at least one year because he had misappropriated valuable business information from his former employer, the Pioneer Press.
Serres can't help but marvel at the irony of Ridder threatening jobs on his way out the door. "It was literally his final act," Serres says. —Paul Demko
Historical Toilet Paper
There's been a lot of attention focused recently on a humble water closet in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Travelers have been stopping by the lascivious lavatory to see (and take pictures of) the spot where Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, according to airport police, got caught with his pants down soliciting sex from an undercover cop.
But now fans of the anti-gay Republican's scandalous career-ender can own a piece of history, courtesy of eBay: an unsoiled 20-inch piece of single-ply toilet paper from the historic site.
Steve Gamba, a San Franciscan eBay "Power Seller" with a 100 percent positive feedback rating, said he got the idea to list a piece of Craigpaper from a friend who sent the TP to him.
The current bid at print time is $20.34 (plus $4.25 shipping), but Gamba says he was surprised he got any bids at all. "I didn't mean anything bad by listing it; it's kinda just to keep people laughing," he said.
The joke's been made, but we'll make it again: Why not sell it on Craigslist? —Ward Rubrecht
A Capital Decision
Bill Kling's American Public Media Group suffered a blow last week when a radio station it had its sights on in the Washington, D.C., area was abruptly taken off the market.
Snapping up WGTS, a Christian station owned by Columbia Union College, would have given Kling's public radio company a mouthpiece in one of the most important media markets in the country. APMG had been pursuing WGTS for months, reportedly offering more than $20 million for it.
Columbia Union College's board of trustees, in reversing its earlier decision to sell the station, bowed to pressure from listeners, who had set up two websites decrying the decision.
The anti-sale efforts mirrored the ultimately unsuccessful attempts by devotees of WCAL, a classical public radio station owned by St. Olaf, to block that station's sale and transformation to the Current. —Jonathan Kaminsky
Last chance for the Church
Community members hoping to save the Olivet Methodist Church building at 724 East 26th Street—for years known simply as "the Church"—will argue this week against demolishing the 98-year-old edifice to make way for an expanded Children's Hospital and Clinics.
Church supporters say they wish to turn the structure, which for years has served as an art studio and music venue, into a community center. They're appealing the August 21 decision by the Heritage Preservation Commission to grant the hospital a wrecking permit, and bringing the issue before a Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Room 317 of City Hall.
"We presented a large enough body of historic material to prove it was historically significant," argues Susan Lynn-Greenfield, a former tenant.
Evidently, a letter from Rolling Stone senior editor (and former City Pages music editor) Melissa Maerz did little to sway the commission: "I count the shows I've seen at the church as some of the most creative, inclusive, energetic performances I've ever seen in my career as a music journalist," wrote Maerz in an open letter. "If the venue is demolished, it would destroy an essential part of the local music scene." —Peter S. Scholtes
In a touching display of bipartisan unity and legislative elbow grease, senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar joined forces last week and helped pass a resolution condemning the use of character-assailing puns in newspaper ads.
Our senators joined 70 others in voting to rebuke MoveOn.org for its placement of an antiwar ad in the New York Times questioning the factual accuracy of General David Petreaus's past assessments of the war in Iraq.
But the main point of contention had to do with a pun present in the ad's title ("General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"), as Klobuchar explains. "To juxtapose a military commander's given surname with a negatively connoted, rhyming phrase is downright deplorable," she said in a completely fabricated quote. "As such, I can think of no better use of the Senate's time and energy than passing this much-needed piece of pseudo-legislation."
Meanwhile, a source close to the general has confirmed that his surname is indeed pronounced puh-TRAY-us.
Fortunately for fans of talk radio and Fox News, it's still fair game to accuse your opponent of betraying America, provided the allegation doesn't come in pun form. Liberal wordsmiths contacted by City Pages declined comment, save for one, who denounced the vote as "Bush league." — Matt Snyders