This weekend, my Whistleblower colleague Lora Pabst described how Mari Weiss of Lakeland is one of hundreds of Minnesota parents whose child support payments are held by the state for six months. In Sunday’s column, I told the story of Audrey Lazarus of St. Louis Park, who over the past year has struggled to escape a nearly $10,000 credit charge for a business opportunity the state has deemed illegal.
Both stories originated from reader tips, the origin of virtually all Whistleblower stories. Our unquenchable thirst for these tips is what sent me to the State Fair on Saturday.
I should have known that a real-live Whistleblower was no competition with bacon-flavored lip balm, the wildly popular freebie at the Star Tribune booth. Nevertheless, I enjoyed greeting the fairgoers who stopped by. Maybe you were being polite, but some of you even acknowledged reading the Whistleblower column. Everyone must have been in a good mood, because no one yelled at me.
Once I explained how we investigate tips from readers, many of you took my card and nodded your heads with a mischievous grin. “Oh, I know something that you should look into.” Or the more contemplative, “Let me think about this for a while.”
I even got a few immediate targets for investigation, although the most fervent request involved an “investigation” of the Great Gobbler Gallop at King Turkey Day in Worthington, Minnesota. The fabled race, now in its 36th year, pits a turkey from Cuero, Texas against a local Worthington turkey in a wild trot down Main Street. I questioned whether Whistleblower was needed because there’s evidence the Texas turkey is really an ostrich, or there’s some other evidence of simmering unrest in the turkey competition, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19. Not so, I was told. They just wanted this event documented for history.
Alas, that will have to be a task for another reporter. But keep those tips coming.