The Republican National Convention website features this historical nugget: The RNC in 1892, held in Minneapolis, was the first to allow female delegates. More than a century later, the GOP picked a woman—Jo Ann Davidson—to share leadership duties at the Republican National Committee. Now Davidson, with a political career that stretches back to the '60s, is the lead planner for next year's convention in St. Paul.
Davidson doesn't fit the Republican mold. She's been a longtime advisor to Republicans for Choice, and as head of the Bush campaign in the Ohio River Valley in 2004, she took no public stand on same-sex marriage. On the side, she runs an institute dedicated to getting more women into Republican politics.
If she's a bit of a maverick, you wouldn't know it from the RNC website, which includes a bio that mentions nothing of her work with women in politics and introduces her, in big blue letters, as "Chairman"—stopping just short of calling her Mister Davidson.
So if you bump into her around town—she'll be the one with the silver hair and the GOP standard-issue stick-on mustache—tell her you're looking forward to the party. —Jeff Severns Guntzel
Man of the People
Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and apparently so do political scandals. Larry Craig (R-No, I Won't Go Away), the bipedal punch line who needs no further introduction, has found an unlikely supporter: the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. In a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee, NGLTF Executive Director Matt Foreman urged lawmakers to call off the investigation into Craig's alleged attempted bathroom tryst.
Foreman's main beef is that Craig has been all but crucified by legislators, while his colleague Sen. David Vitter (R-All Man)—who, in July, admitted to carousing with a hooker after his name popped up in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution sting—has, ahem, gotten off relatively unscathed.
"We are writing to state the inherent contradiction between your treatment of allegations of ethical misconduct by Senator Larry Craig and Senator David Vitter and to insist that you open an investigation into Sen. Vitter's conduct," Foreman wrote last week to the ethics committee. "There is no explanation for the diametrically opposed responses to these two situations, other than hypocrisy tinged by homophobia." —Matt Snyders
Hops crisis hits home
The worldwide hops shortage is what Mark Stutrud, founder of Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul, refers to as "the perfect storm." It's been blamed on a poor crop in Europe, increased demand in China and South America, and ethanol corn soaking up all the acreage.
Summit has already had to raise its prices 1.5 percent last February and anticipates a similar increase this February, which translates to about a $.25-$.40 hike per six pack. Ansari hasn't done the calculations yet. "I'm not looking forward to the day I sit down at the office with a spreadsheet." But, he says, "Prices are going to have to go up. The question is how much."
And while Summit promises that they're "not going to dumb down the beer," brewmasters anticipate a scramble at some smaller breweries to revise recipes to accommodate the shortage.
Because hops take so long to mature, the shortage may last as long as three or four years. If you want to drown your sorrows, we suggest raiding the couch cushions. —Rhena Tantisunthorn
Pioneer Press subscribers received an interesting postcard in their mailboxes last week. It announced that the St. Paul daily was unveiling "Guaranteed VIP Delivery."
"Enjoy the luxury of guaranteed delivery to your door," the mailing crowed, "for just pennies a day!"
What's more, the missive promised, subscribers who pay their monthly bill electronically would have this very special service added automatically. The cost? A mere $1.52 a month, or 12 percent more than customers currently pay for seven-day delivery.
But something about this innovation in newspaper delivery service doesn't quite make sense. Haven't Pi-Press subscribers always been guaranteed delivery of their newspapers? Isn't that the essential service that customers expect to receive when they agree to purchase a subscription? Or are they merely buying the theoretical possibility that a newspaper will be delivered if the paperboy isn't too hungover? —Paul Demko