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Village Voice Media/City Pages sex ads under new fire

Ellison predicts amendments’ defeat; clergy split on marriage amendment; Duluth cutting classes; St. Cloud braces for heroin trouble; and more.

City Pages’ parent company, Village Voice Media, is taking heat — again for its classified ads pages. Way too many links to sex trafficking, say the cops in Nicole Norfleet’s Strib story: “In recent months, has become the focus of activists and authorities in the Twin Cities and nationwide who are demanding the closure of its adult-ad section. ‘It’s absolutely unconscionable that they are making money off of the selling of girls. … Men can get a girl delivered to their door for sex more quickly, they’re reporting, than they can get a pizza delivered,’ said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. ‘What does that say about our society?’ Village Voice Media, which own as well as several alternative weekly papers, including City Pages in the Twin Cities, says it has helped police rescue child sex-trafficking victims by responding to subpoenas and reporting content that could involve the exploitation of minors.” So you see, the jing they make off Backpage allows them to exercise a kind of civic largesse …

Congressman Keith Ellison is on record … Over the weekend, he talked with Talking Points Memo’s David Taintor: “Ellison (D-MN) told TPM on Saturday that he expects a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota will fail when voters head to the polls in November. ‘I believe that the right to marry someone who you please is so fundamental it should not be subject to popular approval anymore than we should vote on whether blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus,’ Ellison said after a panel on voting rights at the Netroots Nation conference here. At the local level, Ellison said his campaign staff is working to defeat the amendment. ‘When we call, we don’t call and say, ‘Please vote for Keith.’ We say Keith is fighting to defeat the voter ID and the anti-marriage amendment. Will you support these efforts too?’ ”

Also from the weekend, the AP reports: “Members of Minnesota’s clergy are increasingly taking sides on the push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a political battle that’s pitting certain denominations against others and, in some cases, splitting believers from the same faith. This Sunday, a group of Catholic churchgoers opposed to the amendment are kicking off the ‘Catholics Vote NO!’ campaign, flying in the face of the church’s local hierarchy, which supports the measure. It’s just the latest in a lengthy list of recent organizing efforts by the faithful — from a recent ‘pastor’s summit’ of church leaders who support a ban to a gathering this past week of more than 100 Christian and Jewish ministers opposed to it. Among the latter was the Rev. Kelly Chatman, lead pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He took take a public stand against the amendment, he said Friday, ‘because I don’t want that other voice to be the only voice, I don’t want same-sex people to see all churches that way. ‘I’m doing this because it’s important people see a pastor who believes that God is loving to everybody.’ ” Have Catholic bishops made a point of inviting GOP amendment supporters up to the pulpit for a few pep sermons?

The Glean To paraphrase a recent high government official, some of Duluth’s children are learning enough. Jane Hollingsworth of the News Tribune writes: “The Duluth school district will save nearly $1 million by switching Lincoln Park and Ordean East middle schools to six-period days next school year, down from seven periods. … The Duluth School Board voted 5-0 on both measures in a special meeting Tuesday night. Members of the Duluth Federation of Teachers have also approved the middle school change, which was required for it to happen. The move to a six-period day — which the high schools already have — is meant to save about $900,000 through layoffs as the district works to cut $3.5 million from its budget. The decision means the district won’t have to increase class sizes as much as otherwise would have been necessary. Board members struggled with the decision, which means eliminating one eighth-grade elective course and providing less time for advising, after-school programs and teacher meetings to accommodate the bus schedule.

Last week, it was a big bust up in the Twin Ports. Now the smack story is out of St. Cloud. David Unze of the St. Cloud Times writes: “Heroin, which used to frighten off young people because of its stigma as a counter-culture drug that involved sharing needles, has made an aggressive comeback that has local investigators scrambling. There have been five overdoses resulting in two deaths in the last month and a half in the St. Cloud metro area, four deaths in Mille Lacs County, two more in Sherburne County since the first of the year and at least one each in Wright and Morrison counties since Jan. 1.
‘I think it’s the tip of the iceberg,’ [undercover investigator Brent] Fair said. ‘I don’t want to alarm you, but there will be, within a year, kids dying. And it will be high school kids, people still in school; the tragic story, the cheerleader or the captain of the football team. It’s only a matter of time.’ It’s why the commander of the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force in April called a Heroin Summit in St. Cloud … Commander Jerry Edblad, a lieutenant in the St. Cloud Police Department, has been a police officer for 23 years and was astounded at what those around the table were telling him.” He doesn’t want “alarm” us?

Maybe Morrie should get naming rights to a few luxury skyboxes? David Kolpack of the AP writes: “Retiring state Rep. Morrie Lanning insists that his controversial and successful campaign to help finance a $975 million Minnesota Vikings stadium did not drive him from a 39-year career in public service. But his reputation as a diplomatic leader was never more tested. Lanning, R-Moorhead, was threatened by emails and phone calls, chastised on blogs and snubbed by members of both parties. … Next up for Lanning, besides spending time with his six grandchildren, could be a spot on the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which will oversee construction of the stadium. Rybak and Dayton will name the five members. ‘I haven’t been approached. Nothing is pre-arranged. But I’ve indicated [I] would be willing to consider that. I would like to hear more about what would be expected,’ Lanning said. ‘Stay tuned, I guess.’ ” Apparently the NFL and the Wilfs don’t hand out ambassadorships to productive foot soldiers.

You knw you want to support a true constitutional patriot. Catharine Richert of MPR says: “This election cycle, Rep. Michele Bachmann will use a special political fund to help Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate. All Republicans need are a net four seats to secure a majority in the Senate, Bachmann wrote in a fundraising e-mail for MICHELE PAC, a so-called leadership PAC that lawmakers set up to help fellow lawmakers or those running for office. … The e-mail doesn’t specify which candidates Bachmann plans to help, but this year’s MICHELE PAC campaign finance reports provide some clues. For instance, Bachmann’s leadership fund has already contributed $2,000 to Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg’s U.S. Senate campaign. Rehberg is challenging incumbent Sen. Jon Tester, a race that Real Clear Politics calls a toss-up. So far this year, MICHELE PAC has raised roughly $11,800 and spent more than $52,500. At the end of April, the fund had about $147,700 in cash on hand.” I assume she will kick in some from her own campaign surplus … ?

Those are good cupcakes … at Cupcake. Rick Nelson of the Strib reports: “Kevin VanDeraa of Cupcake won Food Network’s “Cupcake Champions” and its $50,000 prize on Sunday night. At a viewing party in downtown Minneapolis, he said he will invest the winnings into his business, including plans to open new stores on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and at the Mall of America in Bloomington. He will be selling his cupcakes in the megamall’s Rotunda on Saturday to celebrate his victory.”
In this case, “as long as it takes” was 47 years. The AP story says: “The remains of a U.S. Navy fighter pilot who had been missing in action in the Vietnam War are being returned to his family in Minnesota for burial. Lt. William Swanson, of Zimmerman, will be laid to rest Monday with military honors at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. Swanson was 27 years old when his A-1H Skyraider aircraft crashed during an armed reconnaissance mission over Khammouan Province, Laos, on April 11, 1965. … a joint U.S./Lao People’s Democratic Republican team discovered the crash site in 2000. It wasn’t until 2010 that a recovery team finished excavation and recovered human remains.”