Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



The Answer Man knows who's who in the political world

Dear Answer Man, in this season of political mailings, brochures from Democrats and Republicans have clearly identified sources. But who are these shadowy characters such as the Alliance for a Better Minnesota Action Fund and why are they hiding behind such a stilted pseudonym? — Lee

Some might call my own pseudonym stilted, so I'll take a pass on that. But there's so much money from all-but-anonymous special interest groups in this year's election that it'll take years to sort out who bought whom.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, is "funded primarily by labor unions and the family of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Dayton. It ran several TV ads attacking the GOP’s eventual nominee, Tom Emmer. It raised nearly $1.7 million prior to the state’s Aug. 10 primary. The group’s initial funding was funneled through two other state-level groups, but the sources could be traced through disclosures filed under Minnesota’s campaign finance laws."

Minnesota Forward, according to Annenberg, "is a pro-business, corporate-funded group backing Republican candidate Tom Emmer for governor of Minnesota. It is also supporting a bipartisan group of candidates for the state Legislature. It had raised nearly $1.2 million by the time of the state primary elections on Aug. 10."

Send me a few of the organizations you most want to know about and I'll try to answer by Monday. Time is short, but I'm here to help. So is the Annenberg center at the University of Pennsylvania; the Annenbergs also gave money to build Mayo's plaza by the Plummer Building.


The long and short of it is, pay no attention to TV and radio ads. Turn off the partisan news shows on Fox and MSNBC. Read as much as you can about the candidates from various independent sources and think for yourself.

Hello, Answer Man! My question is likely a simple one, so no need for me to try and be witty. If Sheriff VonWald were to lose his re-election bid, would he then find himself unemployed or would he revert back to an Olmsted County deputy? Thanks.

Ha ha! Another easy one! I'll be off to doughnuts and coffee in no time!

Sheriff Steve VonWald, who was appointed to the job in April 2008 and thus is seeking election, not re-election, will be looking for work as of January if he loses on Nov. 2. Ditto for Dodge County Sheriff Jim Trihey, who's also seeking election after being appointed to the job last year, and any other area sheriff on the ballot.

OLD CARS IN SILVER CREEK:Last week I passed along a question from a reader about whether it was true that Silver Creek was a junkyard for old cars in days gone by. Several readers shared information, and one of them, Joe Melmer, contributed a pic.

"Great Finder of Truth," Joe addressed me, "I have seen (the cars) along the south bank of Silver Creek and at least one has an open top that was covered with tarred cloth of the 1920s and early '30s. There also are many large pieces of concrete and other junk apparently used to stabilize the south banks. The car bodies are located along a stretch of the creek between Quarry Hill Nature Center and the Federal Medical Center...the south bank is occupied by the railroad and they don't encourage trespassing."

I don't, either, and judging by the photo, it's a treacherous area. Don't go there.

Another reader, Mike Liebenow,says it's "correct that the cars were used for erosion control. They were visible in a number of places along the railroad line from here to Winona. I later learned they were put in place by the Chicago & North Western Railroad. They were stripped of engines and radiators, mostly just sheet metal remaining. They left a 1931 license plate on one of them, and I still have it."


Emery Walters, who's 83 and was born and raised in Rochester, called to say his father, Floyd, was the guy who dumped the cars there. "They used to have a washout along the CNW tracks there every summer, and in summer of '45 they took all those cars from the junkyard and filled up the washout. To the best of my knowledge, they haven't had a washout since."

LAST CALL:Following up on my history of the restaurant space in Apache Mall prior to Applebee's, Val Gerberoffers this: "The bar before B.J. Snaps at Apache Mall was called Spats. I believe they had to change the name because there already was a bar named Spats in Minnesota."

Another reliable source, Bill Schneider, confirms that. He and his wife Kayebought Mac's bar at the mall and renamed it Spat's in July 1983. "Within six months, someone out East contacted us and said they had the name Spat's trademarked, which we didn't know, so we changed the name to BJ Snaps restaurant and lounge." (And I'll henceforth go with Bill's style on spelling BJ Snaps and Spat's...he should know.)

They closed in January 1992 when Applebee's moved in, but Bill and Kaye are still at the mall. They bought the Orange Julius franchise in 1996 and have since added Karmelkorn to the menu at the food court.

HONK IF YOU HATE GOOSE POOP:Today's final word goes to Dave F. Dunn, who has this to say on my item last week regarding goose droppings and dog do-do on playing fields: "If the scientific community at Mayo can figure out some way to keep the crows and starlings from pooping on the sidewalks, perhaps that could be applied to the geese."

That's a big if, Dave. Inventing cortisone was easier than figuring out how to shoo away crows from Central Park in Rochester.

Dear Answer Man, is Steven Wilson, the Independence Party candidate for U.S. House, the son of (deleted for privacy reasons) of Rochester? Just wondering ... Julie Brown

No, Steven is not the son of (deleted for privacy reasons). He's the son of Melvin and Elrey Wilson of Houston, Minn.


Since that was so easy, here's another one — of course, they're all easy for me:

What To Read Next
Get Local