Village Voice Media/City Pages sex ads under new fire

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.”

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 06/11/2012 - 09:19 am.

    Missing the point on VVM ads

    What the critics of the VVM Backpage ads NEVER acknowledge is that while some bad players use those ads (and in so doing create trails the police can use to bust them), VVM’s Backpage and (formerly) Craigslist ads allow sex workers to operate without the aid of a pimp or madame. Just like medical marijuana clinics spare people in pain from having to find and negotiate with drug dealers.

    When these forums are shut down, it forces the sex trade further underground which directly results in more violence and abuse to women.

    The logical solution would be to legalize and tightly regulate the sex trade, but that would be a grownup solution and today’s new Puritans get very childish when you talk about the real world in real ways.

    The sex trade is never going away, and the more we prohibit it, the nastier it gets.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/11/2012 - 10:35 am.

      Legalize and regulate

      is the common sense approach to the sex trade and drugs. Too bad common sense is such a rare commodity.

  2. Submitted by John Edwards on 06/11/2012 - 11:40 am.

    Journalistic tradegy

    What an admirable story it would have been if City Pages’ intrepid liberal reporters had had the courage to expose the sleaze in their own workplace. But then that might have endangered their livelihoods.

  3. Submitted by Howard Salute on 06/11/2012 - 11:41 am.

    Pizza Delivery

    “Men can get a girl delivered to their door for sex more quickly, they’re reporting, than they can get a pizza delivered”

    Ok, next time I order a pizza for delivery I won’t ask for everything on it.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 06/11/2012 - 11:42 am.

    I’m usually pretty liberal but the first two comments here…

    …kind of don’t pass my “ick” test. I think calling these women “sex workers” as if it were a chosen profession gives the situation too much credit. Maybe in some ideal world where adults don’t abuse and abandon their children, where poverty doesn’t force one to act against their own sense of right and wrong, maybe in some Ron Paul dreamworld, legalizing the sex trade would make sense. I know the anecdotal evidence is that it seems to work in Denmark and Nevada but I have a hard time OKing something so sleezy. So as a “grown up” you’d be OK with your daughter chosing to be a prostitute? When that idea works for you as common sense then I will respect your opinion on this more, no offense. So you tell your daughter, “Honey, I know you like sex and your grades aren’t too good and you do have a nice figure. Have you ever thought about the sex trade?” I don’t think so.

    As for legalizing drugs, something I have been for in some limited ways over the years, I remember my youth. We used to hang out at this pizza parlor and try to get the old guys to pick us up six packs across the street at the liquor store. I guess I wouldn’t want my son to have the opportunity to try to talk some guy into running over to the drug store to pick up a little smack or crystal. I acknowledge that all things being equal alcohol is probably the more deadly drug, but it does have the small saving grace that people can have one with dinner or in a social setting without getting bombed. You could probably say much the same about pot but most other drugs are just there to get you stoned and making them hard to get is a good thing I think.

    • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 06/11/2012 - 06:36 pm.

      You’re right

      If you’re not tightly regulating the sex industry you are winking at abuse, coercion, codependent and all manner of negative situations. If there was a legal, controlled option, it would make it much easier to isolate and diminish the worst aspects of the underground sex industry (child abuse, enslavement, drug dependency, mutilation and worse).

      It’s not going away, and saying it’s illegal doesn’t slow it down. It’s a discussion our country should have.

  5. Submitted by Phil Cenedella on 06/17/2012 - 01:35 pm.

    Backpage Flash Protests – please forward

    Flash Pickets

    In October 2011, Philip J. Cenedella of the National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocates organized and pulled off the very first protest of Village Voice’s backpage. When the “Editor-in-Chief” of the Village Voice, Tony Ortega, visited Cal State Fullerton, Cenedella and his troops were waiting for him, armed with picket signs and chants of “Stop Sex Trafficking!” Mr. Cenedella may also be the first to implement a new tactic called the “Flash Picket”. Cenedella says he would like to see the whole month of June devoted to flash pickets occurring nationwide. We soon shall see.

    Village Voice doesn’t understand the damage they are causing with their prostitution ad business. They do understand the language of the almighty dollar.

    In addition to full-blown street protests at Village Voice; phone calls, emails, Facebook posts and tweets to Village Voice’s advertisers; we are piloting a new tool:

    The “Flash Picket”.

    Grab your camera and some friends if they are around or go solo – Make a quick picket sign and head to the nearest company that advertises with Village Voice or
    you could even do a flash picket at one of Village Voice’s “alternative newspapers” listed below.

    The advantage of the “flash picket” is instead of standing out in the hot sun for a couple of hours with a few hundred people seeing your picket sign, you can get your photo taken with your picket sign, put it on the net, show it to the world and send it to the company you are protesting. All with very little sweat. We would be happy to post your photos to We’ll even make a webpage with space for photos from every state in the country, but certainly you can find many uses for your flash picket photos!

    It would make quite a statement to accumulate photos of Flash Pickets from every state in the country! We’ll keep you info’d on this progress.

    1. Make the message on your sign very clear so everyone gets what you are trying to communicate.
    2. Include the name of the advertiser or newspaper you are protesting; example: “Hooters supports Child Trafficking Ad Biz”
    3. Make sure you, your picket sign and the sign of the company are all included in your shot.
    4. Email the photo to the advertisers you are protesting, post it to your Facebook page, tweet it, post it on your websites so people know what you’re up to these days, send it on over to the folks at and generally plaster the whole world wide web with it.
    5. Have fun.

    NEWSPAPERS to picket
    Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC (Phoenix parent company) which owns the below “Alternative” Prostitution Ad Newspapers:
    City Pages / Minneapolis
    Houston Press / Houston
    LA Weekly / Los Angeles
    New Times / Broward
    New Times / Miami
    New Times / Phoenix (in same building as Village Voice Media Holdings)
    Observer / Dallas (also headquarters to a Backpage call center!)
    OC Weekly / Orange County
    Riverfront Times / St. Louis
    Seattle Weekly / Seattle
    SF Weekly / San Francisco
    Village Voice / New York
    Westword / Denver

    Village Voice Advertisers to picket
    2929 Entertainment
    American Apparel, Inc.
    American Automobile Association
    Angelika Film Center
    Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
    Arizona Diamondbacks
    Atlantic Broadband
    Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau
    Bacardi USA, Inc.
    Blick Art Materials
    Blue Man Productions, Inc.
    Brooklyn Museum
    Buffalo Wild Wings
    Cancer Fund of America, Inc.
    Champs Sports
    Charter Communications
    Cirque du Soleil:
    Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
    COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY – New York State Psychiatric Institute
    CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.
    Dave and Busters
    Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc.
    Diageo PLC
    ESPN, Inc.
    Focus Features (Moonrise Kingdom)
    Foot Locker, Inc.
    Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
    Guitar Center
    H.D. Buttercup
    Hard Rock Café
    Harrah’s Resorts
    Houston Symphony
    Hyatt Hotels Corporation
    JR Electronics
    LA Philharmonic
    Landmark Sunshine Cinema
    Landmark Theatres
    Lincoln Center Theater
    Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation
    Marriott International, Inc
    Mayo Clinic
    Mesa Arts Center
    MGM Resorts International
    Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.
    Miller Light
    Minnesota Orchestra
    Minnesota Wild
    MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – Mood and Personality Disorders Research Program Department of Psychiatry
    New Belgium Brewing Company, Inc.
    P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.
    Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
    St. Louis Rams
    The Bowery Presents
    The Salvation Army
    Total Bank
    Toyota Motor Corporation
    United Way Worldwide
    University of California, Los Angeles
    University of Denver
    Veo optics
    Walt Disney Pictures
    Warner Brothers Entertainment
    Whole Foods
    YWCA of Minneapolis
    YWCA Twin Cities

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