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DFL Rep. Gauthier changes mind, decides to drop out

Minnesota State coach charged; T-Paw in prime time; General Mills rapped for info gathering; Olympics letter goes viral; and more.

As of right now, he is not running. Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “After starting Wednesday by announcing that he would seek re-election, embattled Duluth Representative Kerry Gauthier ended the day by saying he wouldn’t run after all. Gauthier made both announcements to Northland’s NewsCenter news manager Barbara Reyelts. ‘He said there’s been too much fallout, that it’s been too hard on him psychologically,’ NewsCenter News Director Barbara Reyelts said. ‘I asked if he’s resigning. He said, ‘I’m not resigning; I’m withdrawing.’ And that ‘I hope to keep my health insurance benefits through the end of the year.’ Gauthier would not return News Tribune requests seeking comment on Wednesday.”

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler got Gauthier on the phone. “He also said he’s thinking of resigning from the Legislature. ‘I need to address my issues first and consider the effects of my behavior on my family and friends’ …  Earlier in the day, reports said otherwise. Gauthier was reported as saying he wanted the people in his district to decide his political future. But Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton — among others in the party — asked him not to run for re-election. One Democrat, Rep. Tom Huntley, said he considers Gauthier a child molester. … When asked if he had ever engaged in similar behavior, Gauthier gave no comment. He also said he would not discuss details of the incident so as to protect the identity of the boy with whom he acted. In a written statement, Gauthier said he is a gay man and has known that since college. He also said he is chemically dependent, and admits to taking ‘an overdose of pills to not feel any pain’ after the incident became public. After his sexuality was made public, however, Gauthier says he now feels free.”

The Minnesota State football coach accused of engaging in and possessing child pornography was charged Wednesday. Dan Nienaber at the Mankato Free Press reports: “Videos of nude children found on a Minnesota State University cell phone led to child pornography charges filed against its head football coach. Those three videos, allegedly created by Todd Hoffner, show his three children dancing and jumping around while they are naked, according to a criminal complaint filed in Blue Earth County District Court Wednesday. The children are under the age of 10. Hoffner is charged with felony counts of using minors in a sexual performance and possessing pornographic work. … A one-minute video created on June 26 showed the three children, one boy and two girls, with their backs to the camera and covered by towels, the complaint said. They drop the towels and turn toward the camera, exposing themselves. The boy allegedly fondles himself and the girls allegedly bend over and expose their anuses to the camera.”

Set your DVRs for next Wednesday night for a repeat of the performance that dazzled GOP primary voters. Catharine Richert at MPR says: “After being passed over for a spot on the ticket, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been given a top speaking slot at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. Pawlenty, who was among Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s top choices for vice president, will be giving an address Wednesday, August 29 some time after 7:30 p.m. He’s wedged between Arizona Sen. John McCain, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who was also a top VP contender, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan will be giving the keynote speech that evening, according to the RNC’s schedule.” When’s Donald Trump scheduled?

Natasha Singer of The New York Times reports that two General Mills websites have raised the ire of a group now complaining to the Federal Trade Commission: “A coalition of nearly 20 children’s advocacy, health and public interest groups plans to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, asserting that some online marketing to children by General Mills Inc. and four other well-known companies violates a federal law protecting children’s privacy. The law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, requires website operators to obtain verifiable consent from parents before collecting personal information about children under age 13. But in complaints to the FTC, the coalition says six popular websites aimed at children have violated that law by encouraging children who play brand-related games or engage in other activities to provide friends’ e-mail addresses — without seeking prior parental consent.”

At first, I thought, “Naaa, they’re just a couple writing a letter to a tiny little Duluth paper.” But now that Dennis and Rosemarie Mitchell’s letter to the Budgeteer has gone viral … well, here’s a sample of their complaints about the recently concluded Olympics: “[T]he quality of the past two or three Olympics has been a great disappointment. The entertainment of this latest Olympics was dark, loud, sexualized with scanty clothes and revealing cleavage on women, and with disturbing pagan noise. Connecting children, beds plus frightening villains made one think of pedophiles. The black and red colors of sex and violence dominated most of the closing. The nuns were obviously there to mock Christianity while one could only think of Satan being glorified. … Some of the clothes the competitors wore also reflect the sexualized entertainment. The male swimmers look unprofessional with their hip-huggers trunks stopping just above their pubic region, as also the women’s track and volleyball with their underwear-bikinis. All are offensive and degrading. … The girls’ gymnastics also are sexualized in their swimsuits and are too tight around the buttocks plus partially expose their butts.” Clearly the Mitchells paid very close attention.

At the Gawker media sports site Deadspin, Barry Petchesky writes: “There is nothing in the world like the letters to the editor section of a small newspaper. Remember the Ohio man who wanted the “bisexual” buckeye removed as the state tree? By definition, the people who write these things have too much time on their hands and a capacity for outrage that only kicks in at age 60. So we highlight a wonderful letter in this week’s Duluth Budgeteer News as a public service: support your local newspaper, so things like this can continue to exist.” I’m reminded of how the delightful Marilyn Hagerty of Grand Forks had the last laugh last winter after her review of an Olive Garden restaurant. This might be different.

In a (very) similar vein … . Jim Romenesko, the noted journalism hall monitor, took note of the admonishment endured by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist, Jim Stingl for a story on a texting champ headlined, “OMG! Texting pays big 4 Rhinelander teen.” Says Romenesko, “Stingl was scolded by readers for the OMG headline below. One wrote:

I don’t know if you write the headlines for your articles, Mr. Stingl, but I do know that OMG stands for Oh My God, and I do know that God tells us that the use of His name in a disrespectful or empty manner is sin, and that there are eternal consequences for those that willingly engage in that type of sin.

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… Stingl emails: ‘I’ve received some lively reaction from people on both sides of this question. You can find some in the reader comment section online. A few have suggested the real battleground is not OMG, but OMFG. I had no idea anyone would be offended by OMG, or at least enough to sit down and write an email.’ ”

There may also be a connection here, too. I’m not sure. Tad Vezner of the PiPress writes: “A woman at a St. Paul bus stop told police Wednesday, ‘I’ve seen a lot on University Avenue, but never anything like this.’ The 30-year-old woman, who was sitting at the corner of University and Marion Street, called 911 after seeing a man pull up in a car in front of her. Minutes later, officers near University Avenue were told by a dispatcher to look out for ‘a white male in a red pickup performing oral sex on a white dildo’. Cars behind the man had been honking their horns, trying to get him to move, the woman added. Plus, there were kids around. Police responding to the call noticed a red pickup on University near Wheeler Street, several blocks west of Snelling Avenue. After pulling over Brian Wutschke, 45, of Farmington, police searched the interior of his truck and found the white sex toy under a flannel shirt. They also noted several pairs of women’s panties strewn around the interior, including hanging from the rear-view mirror and the gear shift.” And believe it or not, it gets worse …