Daily Glean: Everybody’s scrambling for a local Obama angle

The late Thomas Griffith, who was known as “the house liberal” of Time magazine, once described journalism as “history on the run.”  All over the world, the media are on the run, trying to come up with new ways to describe the historic meaning of almost-President Barack Obama’s inauguration. And everyone is attempting to come up with a local angle to this international story.

MPR reporter Brandt Williams is riding with three men and a boy to D.C.  “If we have to walk, push, ride the bus, train or plane, we’re going to get there because we want to be part of this moment,” says Ray Seville. Actually, the men — along with Williams and a reporter from the Spokesman Recorder — are getting there in Seville’s Chevy Suburban. They’re staying at a martial arts studio in D.C.

The Strib’s Pam Louwagie is on a bus with 23 students from Harvest Prep Academy and 19 adults. “Whatever you do, you need to put some effort into it,” Braxton Haucly tells his son as they study a book about Obama. “If you end up being average, that’s fine, but you always shoot for excellence.”

Amid all of the serious, heartwarming stories about the meaning of the inauguration, Ruben Rosario of the Pioneer Press found a story with a little different bounce to it. A self-professed gym rat, Rosario spoke with others who head to the gym to find joy and the meaning of life in pickup basketball games like Obama plays. “It shows an everyman aspect to him,” said one of the gym rats.

By the way, an Associated Press story reports that more than 200 Minnesota law enforcement officers will be helping with security in D.C.

If this is Minnesota, there must be a recount story. The Strib’s Kevin Diaz reports that maybe-Sen. Al Franken was in D.C. Sunday doing what pols do: He was raising money for at a $1,000-a-plate brunch at the Willard Hotel to fund recount expenses. Oh yes, Franken also plans to attend the inaugural.

The deep freeze was on and the heat was off in apartments run by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, according to a report on KMSP-TV. During last week’s brutal cold spell, residents at Cedar Towers and several other MPHA buildings reported having had little or no heat.  Housing officials acknowledge there have been “boiler issues” but that they’re being fixed as fast as possible.

The crater in the state budget won’t be the only issue at the Capitol this session. A Pioneer Press story by Megan Boldt, for example, notes that a thorough review of charter schools is high on the legislative public education agenda. Most of the changes will center on cleaning up a variety of charter school management issues, based on a 2008 legislative auditor’s report.

While public schools shudder over what may happen in St. Paul, private school administrators are concerned about the economy in general. There are 500 private schools with 80,000 students, reports the Strib’s Gregory Patterson, and administrators are nervous. “The fear is that if unemployment increases next year, it could significantly affect enrollment the following year,” Terry Campbell, administrator at New Life Academy, a Christian School in Woodbury, tells Patterson.

Just in time for the really bad economy, the $20 million Burnsville Performing Arts Center is set to open this week. The Strib’s Joy Powell reports that there’s still controversy around the project, which was the dream of Mayor Elizabeth Kautz. Built from levies and landfill fees, the arts center is expected to lose $300,000 a year before it becomes sustainable as a venue for national and regional shows. Opening show is very regional: “The Talents of Burnsville.” (Stop that, you urban snobs.) 

It was sweet while it lasted. The really cold weather passed, Tubby Smith’s Gophers — perhaps that should become the official name of the team “Tubbysmith’sgophers” — had shocked Wisconsin and appeared destined to move up in the national rankings. Then, Sunday, Tubbysmith’sgophers went to play “lowlyNorthwestern.” Admit it. Deep down, Minnesota sports fans, you knew what would happen. For details, go to the Strib’s account or here for the Pioneer Press version of a long day in Evanston, Ill.

There will be a Minnesota angle to the Super Bowl. Larry Fitzgerald Jr., who played high school football at Holy Angels, is a star wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals, who advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the Philadelphia Eagles. Fitzgerald, who caught three touchdown passes in the first half, will have to try to get past the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl in two weeks. The Minneapolis Spokesman Recorder should have the best insight into the game. Larry Fitzgerald Sr. is sports editor there.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Louise Mengelkoch on 01/19/2009 - 07:05 pm.

    Check out my inauguration week blog for more “local” flavor. I must say, I’m having an interesting time!

    http://www.demsindenver.blogspot.com

  2. Submitted by Hugh Gitlin on 01/20/2009 - 05:57 am.

    Don’t forget, the Steelers have former Hastings & Gophers tight end Matt Spaeth. Also in Pittsburgh: former Gophers Tyrone Carter and Gary Russell.

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