April 6, 2007

Story Idea No. 5: Puppy Mills

The recent intense media exposure of Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota’s (RAGOM) removal of 83 dogs from a puppy mill in Bismarck, N.D. has brought puppy mills to the attention of the Twin Cities people. Therefore, what is a puppy mill and are they legal? There are few regulations or laws on puppy mills, but The Dog and Cat Breeders Act is currently going through the Minnesota House albeit it is stalled. Therefore, what regulations do puppy mills currently have, why is the bill being introduced, and will the intense media exposure from RAGOM’s removal help move the bill forward?

1. Nikki Rydel, member and volunteer coordinator, RAGOM, (612) 865-2431
2. Darby Holladay, spokesman, United States Department of Agriculture, (301) 734-3265
(The USDA inspected the puppy mill in N.D. and is in charge of inspecting puppy mills.)
3. Paul Koering, senator, R-12 Crow Wing and Morrison, (651) 296-4875
(He is one of the senators introducing The Dog and Cat Breeders Act.)

March 28, 2007

Story Idea #4: Diversity in the Suburbs

Thanh Truc is an authentic Vietnamese food restaurant located in a strip mall in the affluent suburb of Woodbury that has a population of 88.8 percent Caucasian people and 1.1 percent Asian people. Therefore, why did the owners choose a predominately Caucasian inhabited location for Vietnamese food, and does the strip mall location help the restaurant because it is accessible or does it hurt the restaurant since it is authentic Vietnamese food located in a strip mall? The owners say they live in the city so why didn’t they build the restaurant in Minneapolis where there is a greater mix of races? Finally since this is only one of two Vietnamese food restaurants in Woodbury (the other one being a chain) and there are predominately popular chain restaurants in Woodbury, does this restaurant help bring diversity to the area and what do the people of Woodbury think of this?

1. Hai Phan, owner, Thanh Truc, (651) 436-3431
2. Vince Markell, customer and Woodbury resident, (651) 436-1122
3. Nancy Ngo, restaurant writer, Pioneer Press, (651) 228-5172
(The Pioneer Press has written a few articles on Thanh Truc. I would not interview and quote Nancy Ngo since she is another journalist, but I could use her as a journalistic source to get ideas, find potential sources, and/or verify information.)

March 23, 2007

The Impact of Smoking Bans on Young Adults

Jim Farrell of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association said that Gabby’s Nightclub in northeast Minneapolis lost many of its customers to Anoka County, where there is not a smoking ban. According to Farrell, the patchwork of the smoking ban across the Twin Cities has had a major impact on the younger crowd, but he is not sure if the smoking ban has caused the loss of Gabby's customers because he thinks young adults may go out anyway regardless of if they can smoke or not. Therefore, has the smoking ban actually caused young adults to leave Gabby’s in favor of nightclubs that permit smoking, have all nightclubs with smoking bans lost young customers, and have other night clubs that do not have bans gained more young customers since the ban was adopted in other nearby areas?

1. Jim Farrell, executive director, Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, (651) 772-0910

2. Jeff Ormond, manager, Gabby’s Night Club, (612) 788-8239

3. Leslie Bellamy, manager, BE-BOP Night Club in Blaine, Minn., (763) 754-2424
(I would talk to someone from a night club in Anoka County, which does not have a smoking ban, to find out if there has been an increase in young customers like Farrell said.)

March 9, 2007

Affordable Housing in the Twin Cities

According to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, the Metropolitan Council sets goals for communities in a seven-county region to build the needed affordable housing units for that area. According to the public relations specialist for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, some communities are better at accomplishing its goals than others, and she said the city of Woodbury is one community that has excelled at its goals. She said Woodbury will have 48 habitat homes by the end of 2007, which is more than any other suburb in the area. How did the people of Woodbury accomplish their goals and why were they motivated to build the most habitat homes in the area? What do other communities need to do in order to accomplish their goals?

1. Sharon Rolenc, public relations specialist, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, (612) 331-4090 ext. 626

2. Guy Peterson, housing director, Metropolitan Council, (651) 602-1418

3. Bill Hargis, mayor of Woodbury, (651) 739-1040

March 1, 2007

Nutrition Improvement in Minnesota Schools

Obesity expert Martha Kubik said in a recent speech that the nutrition in Minnesota schools received a failing grade in a 2006 nationwide food policy assessment by the Center for Science and Public Interest. What are Minnesota schools doing to improve nutrition and has nutrition in Minnesota schools improved since this study was released?

1. Sherri Knutson, president, Minnesota School Nutrition Association, (507) 328-4216

2. Rosemary Dederichs, director of food service, Minneapolis Public Schools, (612) 668-2821

3. Dulcie Ward, staff nutritionist, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, (202) 686-2210, ext. 338