On the Beat: More than river divides Minneapolis, St. Paul

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2011 - 11:56 AM

Having covered Minneapolis City Hall for seven years and the St. Paul counterpart for an equal number of months, I consider myself qualified to make a subjective comparison on the finer points of the two: humor and clothes.

Without question, council members are a lot funnier in St. Paul, where edgy jokes are more common than they are in Minneapolis, where the mood is more formal.

As evidence, I cite when St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith told the council about the pursuit and arrest of two men who were caught on camera committing crimes on the East Side. This prompted President Kathy Lantry, who represents the area, to wisecrack, "Don't look at me, I don't know them."

As Smith was about to start his budget presentation, Lantry made a quick comment on sting operations at a notorious cruising spot, "Don't worry, I won't ask about Hidden Falls."

St. Paul meetings have yielded confessional yarns of all-night keg parties on frozen lakes and the admission of one council member to being kicked out of a hotel after an ingenious attempt to move the ice machine into the room for easier access and drink-making.

Clothes tell the same tale of the two cities.

St. Paul Council Member Dave Thune often sports bright Hawaiian shirts.

In Minneapolis, the look tends to be more polished -- notwithstanding Council Member Robert Lilligren's scraggly ponytail, Cam Gordon's rumpled hippie look and former Council Member Dan Niziolek's turtlenecks sans jackets.

St. Paul Council Member Dan Bostrom is a buttoned-down former cop, but it's hard to see him applying foundation for the cameras as Minneapolis Council Member Gary Schiff once did before facing the bright TV cameras.

In dressing for power, however, nobody in either city gets near former Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes. Her affinity for red jackets, Chanel lipstick and Stuart Weitzman pumps set an enduring standard.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035

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