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Convention Beat: August 26, 2008 Archive

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St. Paul says "NO!" to elephants

Posted at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

elephant.jpgWe're only six days from the opening of the Republican National Convention, but the city has decided to ban the party's enduring symbol: the elephant.

That's right. You can't host a live elephant in St. Paul during the RNC, according to Bob Kessler, head of the city's licensing office.

And it's not for lack of trying. Mike Runyon, one of the owners of Shamrocks and the Nook, two landmark St. Paul taverns, said he and his partner, Ted Casper, were thinking of having one in front of their Shamrocks restaurant.

They'd apparently located an elephant that might be available at the Renaissance Festival. The festival runs on weekends and Labor Day, through Sept. 26, so one of the animals might have been able to make an appearance in St. Paul on his or her days off.

"Politics and elephants are just a bad mix," Kessler said this morning, after nixing a plan to stand one in front of the Irish-themed eatery on W. 7th Street, near Randolph. "Remember what happened to Jim Scheibel."

For those of you who's memory starts to dim after 18 or 19 years, things started to turn badly for then-mayor Jim Scheibel shortly after he took office in 1990, when he greeted the circus and a strong man put him atop an elephant.

Runyon was audibly disappointed when I called. "We offered to get an elephant and a donkey, just to make it fair," he said, as he was getting ready for the lunch rush today. "It would have been really cool. It's not every day you get the Republican National Convention, you know."

He said customers will have to settle for an RNC menu special: baloney sandwiches. "We might even have a baloney eating contest," he said.

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World's. Largest. Dancing. Peace Sign.

Posted at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

peacesign.jpgFormer FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley is gearing up for the RNC - by creating the largest human piece sign on Harriet Island

But wait, there's more.

It will likely be a dancing peace sign.

The dancers probably won't be doing the Macarena, Rowley tells us. Palbasha Siddique, the young Minneapolis woman who sang the backdrop to the "Dancing" video that became a YouTube sensation, will be performing at the time, Rowley said. In the video, Matt Harding is shot doing a goofy dance in various scenes from all over the world.

The peace sign will be forming around 6 p.m. on Sept. 4.

"The kind of nerdy dance that Matt Harding does is one option, but I think we'll let people freely express themselves," Rowley said. (You can read about Harding's 4 minutes and 29 seconds of fame here.

The one-time DFL Congressional candidate said organizers of the Peace Island Picnic have even got a camera on a kite "that is kosher with air space" regulations.

-- Laura Yuen.

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More dangerous pictures

Posted at 7:00 PM on August 26, 2008 by Tim Nelson (10 Comments)

mplsphotogb.jpgI heard today from a former journalist in North Minneapolis who was out taking some pictures of his home town last night, including some sculpture along the Mississippi, the Riverside power plant and this -- the local constabulary boarding a van near 41st and Dupont.

He said he took this picture, left, then decided he was so curious about what they were doing that he pedaled back on his bike for another look.

Apparently the officers took exception to that, according to the former journalist, who did not want to be named because he would like to be a journalist again. "I'm in the job market right now."

But for a while there, he thought he was going to be in the hoosegow, too.

He says the Minneapolis police drove out of a fenced lot at the department's Special Operations Division offices and did what looks a lot like what's known in the business as a "jump out" on the amateur photographer.


He said they handcuffed him, searched his bag and camera referred to him as a "terrorist." Some plainclothes officers eventually showed up and straightened things out. There's a lot more to his account, and I called and emailed the Minneapolis police to inquire - and try to verify - the incident, but they haven't gotten back to me.

Anyway, the former journalist says that he was released after about an hour. He said in an email that he was "warned to stay away from all of the RNC activities. The investigators explained to me that nothing would happen to me unless one of the sites I photographed was compromised, or I was detained again for anything related to the RNC."

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