Telephone line opens communications to columnists

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 1999

Thursday, September 02, 1999

If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s one of those "cute" voice mail messages.

You know the ones. Somebody is rappin’ for God’s sake, there are animal noises or somebody is waxing poetically with a rhyme for all the wrong reasons.

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Heaven forbid that I would ever do that.

Here are some recent telephone messages I’m received at work.

"Call me back. You’ve got the wrong hometown of Richard Sears."

The caller was Loren Loucks, a nice guy, who just wanted to set the record straight. Mr. Sears, who founded the catalog and mail order company that bears his name was not born at Spring Valley. Nor was he born at Stewartville. He was born at North Redwood, which does not even exist, according to Mr. Loucks. "It’s so small, it’s not even on the map," he said.

Thank you, Loren.

"Did you know that, technically, Pat McGarvey may not be the city administrator and that the real title is ‘assistant to the city council.’ You oughtta look into that."

This caller was Bob Peterson, the former city building inspector, who retired. According to Mr. Peterson, Daryl Stacy was, indeed, the assistant to the city council, when he was originally hired by the city. When the city of Austin sought some of the block grant funds of the 1960s and 1970s, every time Mr. Stacy would fill-in-the-blank asking for his job title, he would put down assistant to the city council. When the feds got the application, they asked ‘What is this assistant to the city council stuff anyway?’ and despite his explanation, they put down "city administrator." According to Mr. Peterson, Mr. Stacy kept the title, during his long career with the city and Mr. McGarvey took it over when he was hired. But, the city’s charter commission never officially changed the job title from assistant to the city council to city administrator.

Mr. Peterson also wanted to talk about the noise made by vehicle wheels speeding along Interstate 90, because of the freeway’s rough surface.

One crisis at a time, Bob. The freeway noise will have to wait until I learn about Mr. McGarvey.

"Would you like to do a story on my mound system?"

Talk about your seductive offers.

This caller can’t be identified – at this time – for the obvious reason: an individual sewage treatment system’s disposal mound is a very private affair.

However, this caller is typical of several, who have consumer complaints and call the media for help via exposure of the contractor.

If it’s in the public’s interest, the story should be told.

But, I’ve never done a story on sewage before, so I will approach this delicately.

"Do you want a copy of the peace treaty? We’re going to ring the bells Sept 4 on the anniversary of the day the war ended in Europe."

The caller was none other than Kermit Thomas, who frequently appears in stories about World War II. In fact, he has appeared in so many stories written by so many reporters that some people wonder if there was more than one Kermit Thomas in World War II.

What could I say? I told him to bring it in and we would look at it and – here are the operative words – "See what we can do."

That leaves it open-ended. I haven’t promised Mr. Thomas a story. Neither have I said we aren’t interested.

"How would you like to spend Sept. 16 in the Twin Cities at a reunion of sailors?"

The caller was Donna Williams, Sam’s wife. Sam and his shipmates are getting together in mid-September for some serious celebrating.

Mrs. Williams is going to hold a "Hormel Night," which she and Sam will host – and she has invited Governor Ventura, the ex-Navy SEAL, to attend.

I’m flattered, but after Jesse slammed the St. Paul Pioneer-Press for criticizing his recent appearance at a WWF professional wrestling match at the Target Center and announced he would not talk to reporters, it raised my ire and a few other things.

Don’t go there, Jesse. It’s too dangerous. Newspapers buy ink by the barrel. It’s not worth it.

I don’t know what would happen if Governor Ventura and Yours Truly would meet in an elevator at the Comfort Inn near the Mall of America.

Sorry, Williamses, but I must decline your invitation in order to protect Jesse from himself.