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George Mitchell brought in to mediate Orchestra dispute

Duluth takes action against head shop owner; tall ship bowsprit trouble; West St. Paul bowling alley inventory for sale; and more.

Talk about bringing in the big gun… Graydon Royce of the Strib reports: “He helped broker peace in Northern Ireland. Now, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has stepped into the Minnesota Orchestra’s lengthy and bitter labor dispute. Mitchell met last week in Washington, D.C., with representatives of management and labor to see whether he can coax the parties into a mediated settlement, say sources close to the situation. Mitchell’s involvement is the latest twist in a stalemate that has lasted 10 months and is the longest among major American orchestras. … Mitchell’s potential involvement comes as significant dates approach. Music director Osmo Vänskä stated earlier that he will resign if the contract is not settled by Sept. 9.

Also, officially and for the record… Royce writes: “Both sides in the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute are distancing themselves from a blog post that suggests a new offer has been made by management and will likely be rejected by musicians. British critic Norman Lebrecht, who writes the blog ‘Slipped Disc,’ posted on Monday that he has seen a document that indicated a management proposal to lift the lockout on Sept. 1, for a two-month period of negotiations. Musicians would be paid during that period under the terms of the old contract. If no new contract were reached at the end of that time, a pay cut of 25 percent would be imposed. Musicians spokesman Blois Olson would not comment on the report other than to say ‘there are several inaccuracies.’ Management spokeswoman Gwen Pappas said in a statement, ‘Our position is that we are respecting the negotiating process, trying to work out of the limelight, so we have no comment on the Lebrecht piece.’ ” Hmm… pretty limp denials, IMHO.

Bad pun alert: So is this thing finally coming to a head? Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “The city of Duluth is tired of babysitting Last Place on Earth head shop owner Jim Carlson, who acts like a 2-year-old in creating a public nuisance and continually flaunting the law, Deputy City Attorney M. Alison Lutterman told the court Tuesday. Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue, responded that the city has made his client the personification of everything evil. Tigue said the city will break any rule in an attempt to put Carlson out of business because the end justifies the means, making the city far more dangerous than the seller of synthetic drugs. The city obtained a temporary restraining order to close Carlson’s business on Friday after Duluth police made a controlled buy of synthetic drugs from the store, which isn’t licensed to sell them. The city is now seeking a temporary injunction, keeping the store closed, until legal questions are answered.”

No, the big lake did not consume it… A report in the Strib says: “A bowsprit problem on one of the tall ships destined for a Duluth festival will keep it away from the event. Capt. Bruce Randall [says] the bowsprit on the 118-foot schooner Halie & Matthew failed and hasn’t been repaired. That’s the long pole that extends from the front of the ship and supports the masts. More than 1,000 tickets for a ride on the schooner have been sold. Organizers say most of those ticketholders will be redirected to other tall ships in the fleet.”

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And yet again… Conrad Wilson at MPR reports: “A Mille Lacs County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with sexually abusing young boys who accompanied him on fishing trips. Aaron Joseph Heuer appeared in Otter Tail County District Court Tuesday on four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Investigators allege Heuer inappropriately touched four boys, ages 8 to 10 years old, last month while working as a volunteer fishing guide at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning, Minn. The criminal complaint alleges he then ordered the boys to have sexual contact with him. The complaint says Heuer threatened to push them out of the boat if they refused.” Who screens these characters?

More bad publicity for my people… Andy Rathbun of the PiPress reports: “A 32-year-old Edina man was arrested in Wisconsin Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly held a woman against her will in a car on Interstate 94. The Wisconsin State Patrol received information just before 1 p.m. that a woman was being held in a Chevrolet Equinox traveling west on I-94 near Eau Claire, Wis. The woman, who had met the man online, was communicating by text message, according to the State Patrol. Troopers stationed themselves along the interstate from Eau Claire to Hudson, Wis., in an effort of locating the vehicle. The 19-year-old woman from Whitehall, Wis., was able to convince the man she needed to use the restroom, and they exited the interstate. She was able to communicate to law enforcement that she was in a restroom of a gas station near Elk Mound, Wis., the State Patrol said.”

The GleanNeed a few dozen bowling shoes? A 40-foot bar? Nick Ferraro of the PiPress writes: “The former owner of West Side Lanes will be selling the insides of the now-closed bowling center Tuesday through Friday, offering everything from bowling shoes to beer signs to a 40-foot wooden bar. Juette Holseth, who owned the West St. Paul bowling center for 17 years, has until Friday night to sell the contents of the building, at 1625 South Robert St. Hours of the sale are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. … Items for sale include bowling equipment (balls, shoes and 20 AMF lanes), office equipment (safes, an ATM machine and a security system), bar and restaurant equipment (bar stools, mugs, commercial ovens and walk-in coolers and freezers), as well as miscellaneous items such as vending machines, TVs and wainscoting.”

At the moment it may not have a rival for the crown of Ultimate Geek Fest, (unless there’s a “Glee” convention somewhere) but City Pages has a photo gallery — which they say is staff produced — of characters from Comic-Con in San Diego.

Another tax hysteria myth bites the dust. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “…state spending per capita in Louisiana, Wyoming and even Wisconsin grew more than spending in Minnesota over the last decade. According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesota’s state spending grew by 22.5 percent from 2001 to 2011, ranking it thirty-fifth in real dollars spending growth. … According to Minnesota numbers (linked and below), the state’s general fund spending (a slightly different calculation than the Tax Foundation used) has been growing steadily since 1960 with only one biennial dive. In Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s last year in office state general fund spending dipped, comparing two year cycles, by 11.5 percent.” Next thing you know someone will tell us austerity doesn’t cure a recession.