January 2008

Psssst!  Al Franken is scheduled to appear at the Royal Cafe in Little Falls this coming Saturday (February 2) at 11:00 a.m.  Spread the word.

You know, I wish the local DFL would quit hosting huge candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken at the Royal.  While I’m sure the restaurant owners like the extra business, the space isn’t big enough, there are too many tables in the way and not enough chairs, and the acoustics are lousy.

When Franken comes to town, be ready for standing room only.

Getting ready to do my impression of a sardine,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel


 Wearing Slippers on Sunday,

Brooke Trout

Ever read a story in the newspaper that was so outrageous that you wanted to fling the entire paper across the room?  I did in last week’s Morrison County Record, the January 13, 2008, issue.  The headline says it all – “Wheeler brings $1 billion lawsuit against the state”.  (That’s the headline in the paper version, not the online version of the story.)

For those of you who haven’t been following the Gordon Wheeler saga, this is the latest in a long process that involves Wheeler’s businesses outside the gates of Camp Ripley, including the Camp Bar, Krazy Rabbit and Lookin’ Fine Smut and Porno.  Wheeler was found guilty of prostitution-related offenses in his Camp Bar business and sentenced to 90 days in jail.  Further, the County Board denied him a liquor license.  By following the string of lawsuits he has filed against the county, county employees, and now the State of Minnesota, it’s obvious that he’s steaming mad.  (Links to articles at the end of this post.)

In the article about his suing the State, a list of the offices Wheeler is targeting with this lawsuit includes the Attorney General, Dept. of Natural Resources, Governor, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Health, Public Safety, Military Affairs, Insurance Commissioner, Human Services, Board on Judicial Standards and Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.  What?  No MNDOT?  No Secretary of State?

Wheeler and his wife Kathleen are citing “crimes against humanity” in their case against the State.  In the words of Kyle Broflovsky’s mom on South Park – “What, what, WHAT!?!”  Exactly how is being held accountable for illegal activities considered “crimes against humanity”?  Shouldn’t that designation be reserved for something like genocide?

Kim Slater submitted a letter to the editor of the Record this week that expresses her outrage over the Wheeler matter and she brings up many of the things I’ve been thinking  about the issue.  She says the following:

“I would like to see a “landmark case” brought against you [the Wheelers] for wasting taxpayer dollars and the time of the judicial system once again.”

I concur with you, Kim.  Class-action lawsuit, anyone?  Frankly, though, I’d like to see the Wheelers’ lawyer included in such a lawsuit.  Does this person not have a shame bone in his/her entire body?  Dumb question, I know.  This is precisely the sort of thing that gives lawyers a bad name.

I’d like to give the Wheelers a little advice, but I’ll start with one of Dr. Phil’s stock questions.  “How’s that workin’ for ya?”  Rather than wasting your money (and MINE!) by suing everyone you lay eyes on, why don’t you move to Nevada, where prostitution is legal, and start over by running the business you’d like to run?  Of course, there are laws there that you’d have to follow, but at least you wouldn’t have to work to get a really big one changed.

Here is a list of articles and documents related to the legal issues the Wheelers have had:

Findings of Fact, Conclusions & Recommendation from the State of MN – Office of Administrative Hearings – for Morrison County in the matter of the non-renewal of the liquor license of Gordon K. Wheeler, Sr., d/b/a the Camp Store/Bar/Cafe

Court document related to Gordon K. Wheeler’s request to dismiss or stay proceedings related to non-renewal of liquor license

By typing Gordon Wheeler into the Morrison County Record’s search feature, I got 33 hits between  January 1, 2005, and January 20, 2008 (the current issue).  Here are the stories relevant to the case.

Six arrested for prostitution

Prostitution suspects arrested

Formal charges filed in Camp Bar prostitution case 

Commissioners discuss Camp Bar liquor license

Court order prohibits adult use business

Hearing on liquor license for Camp Bar is postponed

Camp Bar owner, dancer arrested

Commissioners approve three month liquor license for Camp Bar
Commissioners deny Camp Bar liquor license

County pursues injunction against Camp Bar

Commissioners deny liquor license to any Camp Bar applicant

County to seek outside help in Wheeler appeal

Commissioners approve outside council in Wheeler appeal

Dancers, bar owner, testify as prostitution trial gets underway

Wheeler trial breaks new ground for Morrison County

A travesty of justice for Wheeler

Wheeler drops liquor license appeal

Wheeler gets 90 days for prostitution-related crimes

Camp Bar closed

MN court of appeals rules against dancing lounge

Commissioners prepare to reject Wheeler liquor license

Commissioners reject liquor license

Wheeler restraining order petition tossed

Wheeler petitions appeal to supreme court

County discusses new facets to adult use ordinance

County board keeps Krazy Rabbit’s doors sealed

Liquor license precedent set by County Board

Former bar owner claims county corruption

Lawsuit against Morrison County dismissed

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just from reading through those headlines.  If you find a link that doesn’t link up to the proper story, let me know and I’ll fix it.

The shame bone’s connected to the guilt bone,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Almost a year ago I was plagued with a sinus infection which became excruciatingly painful over a weekend when the clinics were closed. I was in too much pain to ignore it so I took to the internet and searched out natural cures for sinus infections and discovered a website called Earth Clinic.

I liked their website because it offered a host of natural cures then encouraged people to post whether or not the remedy helped them.  Among the suggestions for curing a sinus infection was taking regular doses of organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). They suggested an 2 Tbs. 3 times a day but recommended increasing that dose if you had an actual infection.

I was in such pain that my ears were starting to hurt and none of the over the counter remedies were taking the edge off. I was just desperate enough to try it. I bumped the dose to an eighth of a cup held my breath and drank it in juice. It was so vial that I gave me the heebie jeebies but within 15 minutes by ears began to crackle and the pressure in my head started to dissipate,  I was astonished. Within 12 hours I was 80% better within 2 days all symptoms were gone. I didn’t see a doctor and I didn’t use over the counter drugs.

After the infection was gone I began a maintenance routine drinking 2 Tbs. 3 times a day in juice. During the periods that I was able to stick to the regime I eliminated 80% of the medications I had been taking. My sinus problems were such that I had not only been taking several doses of Advil Cold and Sinus daily but along with that I was on Singular, Astelin nasal spray and Allegra D. After starting the ACV routine I eliminated all drugs except the Astelin. I was breathing better, sleeping better because I was breathing better, it was nothing short of a miracle.

In addition to the aid it provided to my chronic sinus problems it also controlled all of my allergy symptoms, from itchy watery eyes to sneezing attacks. It was so successful that my mother, who was also bothered by periodic allergies, began the ACV routine too. We have both noted that at the first hint of a cold, ACV seems to blow cold symptoms out of the water.

But the remedy wasn’t without a catch. ACV is so pungent that forcing myself to swallow it became increasingly difficult. If I slacked off on a dose I would feel it within 24 hours. If I missed several doses all my symptoms returned painful as ever and I would have to work my system back up to a state of optimum functioning.

What I learned during these periods was that the ACV worked better than any over the counter medication or any prescription drug. But I stopped short of spreading the fantastic news because it simply wasn’t a palletable.

On day my son read the ACV bottle and it recommended that 1 to 2 Tbs. of maple syrup be added to the ACV to kill the taste, I added a tablespoon and gave it a try. The flavor reminded me of a flat beer, not great but a palatable improvement over trying to mask the ghastly taste in grape juice. The change was profound enough that it made taking ACV as a regular routine completely realistic and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Two month ago, my medical insurance was bungled by my insurance company. It took several months to get the situation rectified and I went without coverage for nearly 10 weeks. During that time there were several period that I simply could not afford to pay for the one prescription I still used on an as needed basisand that was Astelin. Since I was able to faithfully maintain my ACV routine I only experienced 2 days of sinus pain out of a cumulative total of 30 days without medication. Both of those days were preceded by a missed ACV dose because I wasn’t home to take it. This was a small miracle, I functioned 100% drug free for the first time in a decade. While I still maintain my Astelin prescription I no longer require it twice a day.

Since this entire ACV experiment began I have successfully eliminated 90% of the drugs I was taking for allergies and sinus problems and its success has surpassed the results of all the drugs combined. I breath  better and I sleep better, I feel like I did before my allergies and sinus issues became an issue.

In addition to the respiratory benefits I’ve also noticed that my skin problems have cleared up. I used to be bothered by minor eczema on my scalp. It goes away when I use ACV, actually all my irritating skin symptoms go away. ACV clears up minor breakouts but even better, its gotten rid of my oily skin problem. Now I am not dry or oily my complexion is just nicely balanced.

 Additionally, ACV is also recommended for high blood pressure,. When my younger sister’s doctor recommended putting her on a prescription drug for high blood pressure, my sister went shopping for an alternative remedy. I suggest ACV and she tried it, it was so successful that drug intervention was no longer necessary. Today, she and her husband take ACV faithfully.

Some of the emerging notions regarding disease and health indicates that many of the problems we suffer from are dietary related. Scurvy is a good example and the use of Cranberry juice to treat yeast infections serves as another. Since both work as successful remedies, maybe it isn’t a long walk to consider that the same could be true for other health conditions.

Since my journey for a home remedy began I’ve saved loads of money on over the counter meds alone which used to cost me about $7.00 a week, I’ve eliminated Singular and Allegra D, I’m down to 1 dose of Astelin, I feel better, sleep better, I’ve stopped buying special scalp shampoos and I’ve stopped purchasing skin care products that claim to aid oily skin because I don’t need them anymore.

In posting this blog, I’m not recommending anyone stop taking prescriptions, I am suggesting that simple home remedies can produce staggering health benefits even if your M.D thinks your silly and ridiculous.

Breathing Better,

Brooke Trout

The folks at the Morrison County Record are demanding change.  Someone at the newspaper has a lead foot and wants to put it to use.  In the Our View section of this week’s paper, the lead footed make a case for increasing the speed limit on Haven Road.

Haven Road, for those of you unfamiliar with Little Falls, is actually a continuation of First Street Northeast, one of the main roads through downtown.  The road becomes Haven as soon as one crosses the railroad tracks on the north end of town, very near City Hall.  This road was widened and repaved this past summer.  Now that it has been improved, the Record notes that “the new design of that stretch invites people to speed up, and most people drive between 35 and 40 mph.”  The Record continues with the following:

“That being the case, we believe that the speed limit should be increased to 40 mph east of the railroad tracks.  To leave it at 30 mph is to invite disrespect for the law, which is never a good thing.”

Let’s get this straight.  The Record is arguing that the speed limit should be increased on this stretch of road because people are already going over the speed limit and we don’t want them to disrespect the law.  Are you serious?  [Phineas continues reading.]  I guess so, because toward the end of the article, the Record states, “Laws need to be reasonable and fit the norms of public behavior.”  Well, that’s interesting.  Have you noticed that no matter where the speed limit is increased, people have a tendency to go five to ten miles per hour over the posted limit?  The Interstate has a speed limit of 70 mph, but people regularly go 75 to 80.  Just because something seems to be a public norm, it doesn’t mean that we should automatically give in to that norm.  If you jack the speed limit on Haven Road up to 40 mph through this area, it’s a guarantee that people will speed up to 45 or 50.

Let’s set aside the argument that we should increase the speed limit on Haven Road because everyone is driving that speed anyway and examine the situation from a different perspective.  My Fish Wrap colleague Suckerlip Blenny and I took a little drive on Haven Road to check things out.   We wanted to figure out why the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) thought it would be appropriate to set the speed limit at 30 mph through this stretch.

As we drove over the tracks, we hit the mileage counter to see how long the stretch in question was.  We were looking to see when the speed limit changed.  From the track to just past 13th Avenue Northeast, the speed limit was 30 mph.  Once past 13th Avenue Northeast, a speed limit sign indicated an increase to 45 mph.  The distance between the tracks and the 45 mph sign was approximately half a mile.  Between the tracks and the 45 mph speed limit sign, we noted that we moved from a residential area into a business area.  There are new apartment buildings in this stretch along the river.  There is a Casey’s gas station, Charlie’s Pizza, Dairy Queen (which is getting a full face-lift), and the Crestliner boat manufacturing plant.

Is it possible that MNDOT looked at these businesses and figured that with all the traffic coming and going, the wisest decision was to keep the speed limit at 30 mph?  Have you noticed all the kids that frequent the Dairy Queen in the summer?  How about all those cars streaming out of Crestliner, off of 13th Avenue Northeast, when the shift changes?  Having driven through this stretch myself during busy times of the day, I think MNDOT made the right decision.

But, Suckerlip Blenny and I weren’t done yet.  It was time to strain our brains with MATH.  What kind of time might people save if the speed limit increased from 30 mph to 40 mph for this half-mile stretch?  It takes 2 minutes to travel one mile driving 30 mph.  It takes 1.5 minutes to travel a mile driving at 40 mph.  Divide those minutes in half to get the time it takes to travel a half-mile.  It takes one minute to travel a half-mile going at 30.  It takes 45 seconds to travel a half-mile at 40 mph.  The difference between those amounts is the time you would save by speeding up – a mere 15 seconds.  If anyone enters Haven Road from 13th Avenue Northeast in front of you, you’re going to have to slow down, which will eat up those 15 seconds.

If you haven’t got 15 seconds to spare in a day, you need to torch up some incense and schedule a weekend at a Zen center for some meditation and introspection, ’cause your life is just waaaaay too busy.

Glub, glub, ohmmmmmmmm . . . .

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

While the Morrison County Record has the words “Morrison” and “county” in its title, in the past, the newspaper hasn’t always appeared to cover the whole of the county with the fervor it has used in covering the news of Little Falls.  Remember when Pierz and Royalton news appeared in Section B, as though it was no more than an afterthought?  When ECM Publishers took over the paper, that changed and news from other communities around the county began to be featured in Section A.  It was a much-needed improvement, imho.  In this week’s Record, the main article on the front page is called, “County leaders share their 2008 resolutions.”  I was half expecting the old Record as I began to read it, thinking the article would feature mostly Little Falls leaders.  The Rec surprised me though, starting its article with the resolutions of Motley’s Bob Jenkins.  The paper covered the resolutions of leaders from Randall, Pierz, and Royalton.  Don’t worry, the Little Falls folks weren’t forgotten.  More of them were reported on than from the other areas, but still, the Rec is making some progress in evening out the coverage.

My tail is just as important as my dorsal fin,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Third Party Politics : Bush and Gore Make Me Want to Ralph

As I was reviewing the MC Record online I noted that in the month of December ECM’s capitol reporter T.Budig submitted a 3 part series on former Governor Venture, it was printed over a 4 week time period. I skimmed the articles which were rich with interviews with  state legislators and the governor. The articles offered commentary on the Ventura administration and personal reflections. One of the article even included a current physical description of Jesse and  indicated he was clean shaven with moderately long hair.

At this juncture I have to ask the tough question: Who gives a shit?

The state is on the verge of kicking off the 2008 legislative session and the capitol reporter rounds up key legislators and the governor to take a postpartum look at Jesse? Surely, you jest. I couldn’t help but look at this series and conclude that its only material relevance could have been a discussion on the impact that third or even fourth party political candidates have on  elections and more specifically how it impacts state political parties in terms of election funding. A topic that might be timely and relevant but its mentioned only briefly in the series and never explored.

The one question that is specifically asked regarding 3rd party candidates focused on whether or not a Jesse election upset could happen again.  Then story goes on to reminded Minnesotans of the highs and lows of the Jesse years. Naturally, the highs were discussed in general, nondescript terms and the lows were discussed with specificity and careful articulation , one headline called Jesse paranoid. While the series flim-flams as to whether or not a Jesse upset could happen again, its material point appears to be nothing more than an excuse to smear third and fourth party politician and shame Minnesota for moving away from the status quo during that election cycle. This is almost amusing given the disaster  our Republican President has made of …everything.  Are we actually calling a time out to mock Jesse’s administration while the CIA destroys torture evidence?

But thanks to Dub-ya Bush the answer to the probing Jesse question, could another Jesse upset happen again? Is a resounding no, not right now because Americans are too scared . Jesse won the election when Minnesotans felt safe and comfortable, and dissatisfied with the same old, same old.  While the election of Jesse made a strong statement as to Minnesota’s readiness for change … Minnesota failed to elect a legislature with a compatible agenda. That having been said, even under the best circumstances its unlikely Ventura would have delivered the change his constituents had hoped for.

Americans today aren’t shopping for sweeping change, we’ll be content if someone would just sweep the House. We’re shopping for a rational, fiscally responsible candidate who can aid America on her long, strident climb back to mediocrity.

Charging the Electric Broom,

Brooke Trout

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