Church and State

Every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. during the legislative session, Chaplain Dan Hall hosts a two-hour prayer meeting. It is held around a long wooden table in Room 118 of the State Capitol building, just around the corner from the governor’s office. Attendance varies, averaging about twenty people who know Hall from his work as […]

Can the Public Library (and Democracy) Survive?

On the third floor of the temporary library in downtown Minneapolis—a retrofitted office building that once housed the Federal Reserve Bank—a skinny man with a shock of white hair paced hurriedly up and down the aisles carrying a bouquet of roses wrapped in a wad of shredded newspaper. He looked disheveled, a little like Sam […]

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Wrestling Matt

It’s a bitterly cold Tuesday evening in mid-January, the kind of subzero, dangerously low windchill night when Minnesotans are apt to crank up the boiler and hunker down in front of “American Idol” and “Law & Order,” so it’s a little surprising to find more than fifty constituents gathered in the living room of a […]

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Al Franken : The Rakish Interview

Fresh from the flap over his new book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, our favorite local boy Franken (he’s from St. Louis Park, you know) has never been better—even when he won five Emmys for his work on the original cast and writing staff of Saturday Night Live, or when he won […]

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Burning Down the Firehouse

To look at the tidy little house at 48th and York, you’d think the fire that killed Pearl Gallagher on June 14 didn’t really amount to much. Sheets of plywood cover the windows, but there are no flame-scarred walls, no singed rafters. The flower garden just beyond the front door blooms as if nothing happened. […]

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The Real Pat Awada

It’s late afternoon and State Auditor Pat Awada is negotiating southbound traffic on 35E in her white Jeep Cherokee, one hand on the wheel, the other occupied with a Marlboro Light that she ashes out her open window. She brushes a length of long blonde hair from her deep blue eyes and considers the impact […]

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Too quick on the draw

May 28, 2003 I wrote a column last November about a Democrat fund raiser I’d attended with Al Gore. At the time, I noted that I thought we were in for a long period of Republican rule, because the Dems were such inept marketers. Well, the Republicans, at least in the Minnesota Legislature, (who, unlike […]

The Minnesota Model—Unglued

After more than 50 years at center stage in American politics and government, Minnesota has been relegated to the supporting cast in the nation’s capitol at the beginning of the 21st century. The North Star State’s once-impressive Washington presence has dwindled. A host of nationally prominent figures of both parties who have played leading roles […]

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Wellstone the Teacher

My son Matt, who is a freshman at Carleton College, called me early last Friday afternoon to tell me that he’d just heard that Paul Wellstone had been killed in a plane crash. He’d got the news right after getting out of his freshman political science class, the same class I’d taken at Carleton 32 […]

Forgiving Rick Kahn

Fritz Mondale said Wednesday that the effect of the tragedy on those closest to Wellstone didn’t justify the tone of his memorial service, “But we’ve all made mistakes. Can’t we find it in our hearts to forgive?” I certainly hope so—for a couple of reasons. First, how do we blame Rick Kahn for an electorate […]