University of Minnesota fundraisers are suffering from a mild case of fiscal blue balls after a former strip club owner rescinded a $1 million verbal pledge toward the U of M's new football stadium.
Robert Sabes, the erstwhile proprietor of Schieks Palace Royal gentlemen's club, hasn't offered an explanation as to why he's had a change of heart. Nor is it clear why he began flirting with the university in the first place.
In any case, U of M representatives are disappointed at their failure to get their hands on Sabes's fund-bags, especially after coming so tantalizingly close to the goods. But all hope is not lost for a potentially rewarding relationship, even if it turns out to be purely platonic.
"The Sabes Family Foundation has a long history of philanthropic support of the community, and there are a number of ways in which our missions can compliment each other," Daniel Wolter, a university spokesman, wrote in an email.
Campus officials doubt Sabes's second thoughts will encumber the stadium's erection, which has been ongoing since July 11 and is expected to climax in August 2009. —Matt Snyders
The July issue of Stressfree Living, published out of Prior Lake and distributed to a doctor's office near you, offers up "Our Top Ten Stress-Free Destinations," including such innocuous choices as the city of Waseca, the Renaissance Festival, and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
The mag also recommends the world-renowned Mall of America, that notorious headache-inducer and site of an apparent suicide four years ago—but hey, different strokes. Then there's Black Bear Casino, because nobody ever gets stressed out gambling or driving on I-35.
Perhaps money is the root of all stress relief: Of the ten destinations, four advertise in the same issue, including the town, the festival, the dinner theater, and the casino. —Peter S. Scholtes
Friends in High Places
Minnesota's own paragon of unjustified optimism, Dick Franson, has thrown his hat in the ring for pretty much every political office our fine state has to offer. If you're wondering what he's smoking, the answer is nothing.
His campaign has taken a new hardline anti-drug stance after a shocking exposé in the June 28 issue of the Star Tribune. The report revealed that the three leading candidates—Al Franken, Norm Coleman, and Mike Ciresi—each committed that most heinous of crimes: recreational drug use.
Franson himself claims to have remained drug-free his whole life, and says in a press release that "Minnesota doesn't need a U.S. senator who has taken illegal drugs!" Moved by his straight-edge lifestyle, he's calling out his three opponents and demanding that they undergo an immediate drug test to determine their fitness for office.
Assuming he can convince the candidates to stop hot-boxing and show up to the test, maybe he could pick up some pointers on how to actually win an election. —Ward Rubrecht
The Cost of Friendly Fire
The city of Minneapolis might want to start organizing bake sales. A federal appellate decision last week in favor of Minneapolis cop Duy Ngo could prove extremely costly for the municipal government.
In February 2003, while working undercover, Ngo was shot at least six times by fellow officer Charles Storlie ("Shot to Hell," 5/21/03). In a lawsuit filed later that year, Ngo sought $22 million in damages. According to his attorney, Robert Bennett, the city has so far offered just $500,000.
But last week, a three-judge panel determined that Storlie is not entitled to immunity in the case and that it should proceed to a jury.
"It comes as no surprise whatsoever," Ngo says of the opinion. "It was never a close call."
The judicial decision is notable for its stark characterization of Storlie's actions on the night in question. "Storlie exited his squad car and opened fire with a semi-automatic machine gun on a kneeling, unarmed man," the ruling states.
The two sides will now return to settlement talks. Bennett believes the appellate ruling should alter the city's bargaining stance. "It's a very powerful opinion that ought to resonate with the city attorney and City Council, and kind of is a harbinger of things to come in front of a jury," he says.
If no agreement can be reached, the case is expected to finally go to trial by the end of the year.
Storlie's attorney, Pierre Regnier, declined to comment. As for Storlie, he resigned from the police department and is reportedly working security in the Middle East, where there have never been any problems with accidentally shooting our own troops. —Paul Demko
In recent years, the drug Xyrem has been at the root of several problems for Jazz Pharmaceuticals and its Minnetonka-based subsidiary Orphan Medical, Inc.
In 2002, it took the Food and Drug Administration 15 months to approve the drug for use in treatment of narcolepsy. The process was delayed because Xyrem contains the controlled substance gamma hydroxybutyrate, otherwise known as GHB.
In 2005, unbeknownst to its then-prospective buyer, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, a lawsuit was filed against Orphan Medical alleging that the company promoted the drug for uses that the FDA had not approved. Among the off-label indications that drug sales representatives were told to use as selling points: weight loss, chronic pain relief, and treatment of bipolar disorder and insomnia. Jazz Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay a $20 million settlement, pleading guilty to one count of felony misbranding of a pharmaceutical product.
With such willy-nilly indications being thrown about, one wonders why the reps didn't promote the drug for one of GHB's most common uses: date rape. —Rhena Tantisunthorn
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