StarTribune columnist Jon Tevlin on bike helmets

Jon Tevlin visits the GBM in Northfield Jon Tevlin

StarTribune columnist Jon Tevlin (crappy 2007 photo with Tracy and Ross at the GBM above) covers the bike helmet issue in his column today, Bike helmet debate hits evocative fork in road:

In a Star Tribune story earlier this week, Minneapolis Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy was photographed on his bike, without a helmet. He told the reporter that he doesn’t always wear a helmet because he doesn’t want the activity to appear dangerous or scary. "I just want it to be seen as something that a normal person can do," said Murphy.

As you might imagine, comments posted online and letters to the editor took Murphy to task. After the story ran, Murphy was told by supervisors that he now has to wear a helmet on the job. But at least one Minnesota bike advocate is on Murphy’s side, presenting some counter-intuitive data that is stirring up controversy on two wheels.

That advocate would be me.

"The studies out there are irrefutable that wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing a helmet," said Bufton. "The cost is low and the return is high. We’re not militant on it and we’re not at the Legislature asking for mandatory helmet laws."

Bufton misses my point.  The cost is low for an individual person but from an overall public health impact, we’re inadvertently paying a high price by such over-zealous promotion of helmet-wearing for casual biking.

Wigley is happy about that. Meanwhile, he will continue to ride his bike and wear a helmet, but he sure won’t tell you what to do.

Not quite. I no longer wear a helmet for around-town/casual biking.  I do wear a helmet at all other times.  And if you’re a public official, I will tell you what to do: for the sake of public health, set an example like me.

Buddhist nonsense given front-page treatment in the Strib

The StarTribune used this teaser headline on the homepage of their website yesterday:

4-year-old believed to be first Minnesota-born lama-reincarnate

The actual headline and by-line for the front-page story: The little lama from Columbia Heights – "Tibetan Buddhists see the extraordinary in this Columbia Heights boy — a reincarnated guru."

003buddha12181111Jalue Dorjee, you see, is believed to be no ordinary boy. According to the highest authorities of the Tibetan Buddhist order, he is the reincarnation of the speech, mind and body of a lama, or spiritual guru, who died in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655.

There’s a lot to like about Buddhism, just like other religions, but a human-interest story based on goofy literal beliefs about reincarnation should not be given front-page treatment but relegated to the Variety or a local section, just like the newspaper did with its story a year ago, A little chapel in Wisconsin draws pilgrims seeking Mary. Likewise, this article published in July: Communion wafer turns red in S. St. Paul — is it miraculous?

In five more years, I hope to see a follow-up article about Jalue Dorjee with a headline like:

Columbia Heights family to ship their 10-year old to study in a monastery in India – is this good parenting?

Gridlock, extremes, partisanship at the Capitol? Unintended consequences of what Northfield’s liberal voters asked for

Star Tribune reporter Richard Meryhew at the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse in NorthfieldStarTribune reporter Richard Meryhew paid a visit to Northfield and a few other towns in District 25B last week, asking citizens their reaction to the state budget battle at the Capitol.  His story appeared in yesterday’s paper: Voters say: Enough Already.  In politically diverse House District 25B, folks wonder how compromise became a four-letter word at the Capitol.

Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.

Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."

Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago:  Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures.  Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune.  Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:

Ray CoxIn the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.

Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers.  Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.

Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.

So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous.  Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there.  Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?

Tom Neuville, Al Quie, Ray CoxWayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, had a commentary in last week’s Strib titled The state’s GOP has lost its way – and many party veterans know it. He criticized the GOP for being "Not Your Mother’s Republican Party" because the voices of moderate Republicans like Arne Carlson, Duane Benson, Dave Jennings, Al Quie, and Dave Durenberger were no longer being heard by the GOP. 

Were he writing about Rice County, he’d likely name Ray Cox and Tom Neuville.

Strib joins Locally Grown to lower editorial decency standards

Strib commentary page I detect a trend. A couple weeks ago, I blogged how Target had lowered its community decency standards to match LoGroNo. Then yesterday, the StarTribune’s editorial page ran a delightfully sophomoric commentary by John Olson titled Amid the bad news, something uplifting which was laden with erection-related puns and euphemisms such as this:

Is it possible? Did the E.D. industry cause the market to droop to 1997 levels just to make us nostalgic for the gusto we had back then? We’ll never know. We do know, or at least we’ve heard, that at least one stimulus package is working quite well.

Biodiesel flap: Strib forgets to point finger at self

opExchange The editorial in yesterday’s StarTribune was titled: Unearned black eye for biodiesel fuel: It wasn’t the culprit in Bloomington bus problems.  The unnamed editorial writers (don’t get me started on that tradition) rightfully spanked Fox TV commentator Glenn Beck for his bombastic comments but as I read it, I kept waiting for a mea culpa since their mid-January cold snap news reports (here, here, here, and here) surely helped contribute to the ‘unearned black eye.’  (continued)

Continue reading Biodiesel flap: Strib forgets to point finger at self

StarTribune reporter seeks input on Northfield’s state of affairs

Tracy Davis, Ross Currier, Jon Tevlin Ross, Tracy and I met Friday morning with Jon Tevlin, a reporter for the StarTribune. He contacted us last week, as the paper’s considering publishing a story on all the um, interesting things that have been happening at Northfield City Hall lately.

Since he’s been following the discussions here on Locally Grown, I suggested to him that we set up a private blog post/discussion thread where he could interact with interested citizens and community leaders as he works on the story. I suggested that it be private since most reporters don’t want to be scooped by the competition. He agreed, as did his Strib colleagues.

Here’s our current plan on how it’s going to work (we could change our minds):

I’ll start a new blog post, make it private, and hand out usernames and passwords to anyone who’s interested, with these qualifiers:

  • you’re a local, have met me, Ross or Tracy face-to-face at least once, and we think you’d be a good addition to the conversation
  • you’re not a member of a media organization that competes with the Strib
  • if you’re not local, Jon knows you and approves of your participation
  • you agree to not communicate (blogging, email, etc) with others about what’s being discussed
  • you agree to our usual Guidelines for participation, with the understanding that the purpose of doing this is to help Jon write his article.

If and when the story gets published, we’ll make the blog discussion thread public with Jon’s and the Strib’s permission.

So if you’re interested, attach a comment here. Don’t email me asking to be included. If you’re not willing to go public with your wanting to be included, you’re probably not a candidate for participation.

And if you have suggestions on how we might better run this, please speak up!

Sex al fresco in Northfield

vitamn_sexalfresco_cover.jpgThe StarTribune’s entertainment tabloid, VitaMN, ran a story last week titled Sex … al fresco by Alexis McKinnis.

“When the weather warms up, Minnesotans can’t get enough sex — outdoor sex, that is.”

It caused enough of a stir that Kate Parry, Star Tribune Reader’s Representative, devoted her Sunday column to it: Reality check needed on ‘Sex al fresco.’

McKinnis has her own blog, Girl Friday – Confessions of a Concierge, and she’s blogged her response to Parry: Oops, There Goes My Skirt Droppin’ to My Feet. MNSpeak has a long discussion thread on the topic.

Since McKinnis’ neighborhood is Northeast, and since she grew up in North Branch where she says “It’s just something we always did growing up,” I’m thinking that Northfield must be ranked highly in this al fresco activity that dates back to the Garden of Eden.

So I’ve set up a straw poll and added it to upper lower right sidebar. And I’ve temporarily suspended our unwritten rule about using your real name when attaching a comment to a blog post.

STRAW POLL: How many times have you had sex outdoors in the Northfield area?
(See poll in upper lower right sidebar.)

Tell us your stories of your outdoor sex al fresco escapades by attaching a comment here, either using your real name or a pseudonym with a fake email address.

Since the topic might be controversial, I’ve added another poll:

What’s your opinion of sex al fresco?
(See poll in upper lower right sidebar.)

Weigh in with your comments about this post, pro or con.

And now, a little exerpt from Greg Brown’s “The Poet Game“:

Down by the river junior year
walking with my girl,
and we came upon a place
there in the tall grass where a couple had been making love
and left the mark of their embrace.
I said to her, “Looks like they had some fun.”
She said to me, “Let’s do the same.”
and still I taste her kisses
and her freckles in the sun
when I play the poet game.

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