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Daily Glean: From prayers to ethanol, events prove times are still a-changin’

By Doug Grow | Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In Tuesday’s news roundup: Remember when it was OK for Catholics to pray with gays and lesbians?

Remember when it was OK for Catholics to pray with gays and lesbians? When communities thought they were going to receive a bigger taste of state aid?  When ethanol was the answer to all our energy needs?  When a bus ride was two bits, or even $1.50?  When there was a gate across Rice Creek? The times, as always, are changing.

Be careful whom you pray for. 
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis told staff members of St. Joan of Arc Church they could not hold their annual gay pride prayer service, according to PiPress reporter Tad Vezner.  “That descriptor (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) was not possible on church property,” said archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath. Apparently with a straight face, McGrath said that this isn’t some new crackdown because Archbishop John Nienstedt is now in charge. Recently retired Archibishop Harry Flynn would have cracked down on this, too, had he known of it, McGrath said. Maybe. But the service was not exactly an underground deal. In the past, it was advertised on St. Joan’s website and in its bulletin. Many are saddened and angry — but probably not surprised.

At least some communities are getting a surprise when they figure out just how much of an increase in local government aid they’ll be receiving from the state, according to MPR’s Tom Robertson. In some cases, there’s no increase — and in some cases, there’s even a decrease. Legislators did approve a $42 million increase in LGA. But Gov. Tim Pawlenty got a cap on the amount cities can raise property taxes. The two are intermingled in a complex formula that is leaving some cities gasping for funds. “The reality is, I think we were duped,” says Bemidji City Manager John Chattin.

This is never a good sign on a business story: “Back in the salad days . . .” That’s how the Strib’s H.J. Cummins begins her story on ethanol production in Minnesota. Those “salad days,” when every politician was touting ethanol as the silver bullet to all energy problems, occurred only two years ago. With corn, ethanol’s main ingredient, at a record high price per bushel (almost $8), the industry is in the tank. Some brand-new plants aren’t even going to open for the time being.

In more depressing energy news: KARE-TV’s Scott Goldberg has a solid piece on the newest boogeymen in rising oil costs: This time, it’s not those nasty princes from the Middle East; rather, it’s home-grown speculators. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar vows to do something about ’em.  But in the meantime, the Strib reports bus fares will be going up, as much as 75 cents in coming months.

But the good transit news is people in the northern suburbs can now commute by canoe. The Strib’s Jean Hopfensberger has a story on the opening of Rice Creek. For the first time since WWII, paddlers can make it from Lino Lakes in the north to the Mississippi River in Fridley, a 17-mile run that had been cut in half by a gate at the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills.

The Juneteenth festival will go on, event organizers tell Strib reporters, after wild gunfire brought an abrupt end to this year’s celebration to the end of slavery. Three bystanders were wounded when gunfire broke out. But organizers say that’s the first time the festival has been marred by violence — that is, if you don’t count the fact that a young man, Brian Cole, was shot and killed shortly after leaving the event two years ago. Police said that Cole was not the intended target in that shooting. No one knows who the intended targets were this year.

WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy shows us how a green screen works in getting into the dispute over whether Sen. Norm Coleman and his spouse, Laurie, were in the same kitchen at the same time in filming a campaign commercial. Outtakes of the commercial shoot prove that the couple was together, the Coleman campaign says. But this is the classic case of an ad backfiring, says the Humphrey Institute’s Larry Jacobs. It took the spotlight off Franken and put it right on the untraditional Coleman marriage.

Variety is the new-old name that has replaced Source at the Strib. Bringing back the “Variety” name, editors said, showed they are listening to their readers. Tuesday’s Variety features a massive photo of a child getting “her first pedicure.” After blowing off the death of George Carlin with a few graphs in Monday’s paper,  the paper blew its chance to come back strong. Variety buried a story on the iconic humorist today. Hmmm. Which readers are those editors  listening to?  

Twin Cities sports scribes, who pay little attention to female athletes most of the year, are falling all over themselves in covering the women’s U.S. Open, which opens this week at Interlachen Country Club. The PiPress’s Bob Sansevere points out this will be longest, hardest test ever for world’s top women golfers. The Strib’s Mark Craig has a sweet tribute to Minneapolis legend Patty Berg.