News Real

MONEY TALKS: Tuesday dawned bright and chilly to the news -- in a copyrighted St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by football writer Jim Thomas -- that beleaguered St. Louis Rams head coach Dick Vermeil would be given one more year to right the Rams' ship. The paper ran the headline "Dick Vermeil?" when the former Philadelphia Eagles coach and college-football analyst was hired to take over the team two years ago, and that question has been regularly asked ever since as the Rams plunged to a record of nine wins and 22 losses under Vermeil. Early reaction to the news was a collective sigh of resignation from desperately unhappy Rams fans, who are bracing themselves for one more year of the same bad football. Even more interesting was the fact that the Rams -- flush with cash under their sweetheart lease to relocate to St. Louis -- are evidently letting a reported $10 million price tag to fire Vermeil and his staff stand in the way of doing just that. "I'd be lying to say (the buyout price) wasn't a factor," team president John Shaw told the P-D. (RB)

ARMCHAIR GENERAL TURNED ARMCHAIR REPORTER: In this day of CNN, C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, Fox News and Hustler magazine, what journalist needs a notepad and a pen? Apparently not the one who has to write the Page 1 story on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In a point size reserved for the second coming of Christ or a new Mark McGwire home-run total, "IMPEACHED" topped the page, followed by a view-from-the-mountaintop piece by Harry Levins, "Post-Dispatch Senior Writer." Perhaps the title is a giveaway -- writing doesn't necessarily require reporting. There was no dateline on the piece, which did not jump from Page 1, so there was no suggestion that the writer actually was in Washington, D.C.; any linkage was likely made by way of radio and television. The cataclysmic one-word headline and impressionistic tone drew the attention of the New York Times, which reported on Tuesday that "the Post-Dispatch distinguished itself by reserving its entire front page for a narrative essay, written out of St. Louis, prompting strong objections from all five members of the newspaper's Washington bureau." Gee, what are they griping about? Don't they know it's easy to follow stuff on TV? Sure beats running around and asking a lot of clumsy questions. (DJW)

DOES THIS MEAN THAT BEVO MILL WILL GO NEXT? One early benefit from the attention turned on the Arena on Oakland Avenue is that the Easter Seal Society has managed to sell all of its keepsake 24-karat-gold-plated ornaments minted to commemorate the 69-year-old building that once was home to the St. Louis Blues and the Spirits of St. Louis. The Arena ornament was first cast in 1994, but with all the recent public hand-wringing about the building's impending implosion, sales of the souvenirs, at 16 bucks a pop, took off . Other ornaments of St. Louis landmarks sold by the society include King Louis XIV on his horse, Bevo Mill, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis airplane and Busch Stadium. (For more info, call 776-1996.) Meanwhile, back on Oakland, primo prospect Safeco Insurance -- which was going to occupy the office park planned at the Arena site -- has opted to stay in St. Louis County. Mayoral spokesman John Boul is upbeat, but then, that's his job. Boul recalls that Bridge Technologies was an earlier recruit that bailed, so the mayor's office thinks more prospects can be found. Implosion still appears to be the odds-on favorite as the means of making the Arena go away, after the old barn is gutted for more trinkets -- signs, turnstiles, whatever. Sometime in February should be the time folks with cameras will line up on Oakland to see one more St. Louis relic blast into the past. (DJW)

HIGH-MINDED PURPOSE: Come 1999, the Missouri Legislature will once again crank into high gear and take up some high-minded proposals for legislation. Here are our picks for the ones that will waste the politicians' time: the establishment of the Mark McGwire Highway, introduced by Sen. John Scott (D-St. Louis), which would rename parts of Interstate 70 to, guess what, the "Mark McGwire Highway"; a proposal by Sen. Steve Ehlmann (R-St. Charles) directing how the city of St. Louis conducts its own business, including imposing new taxes, eliminating others and allowing civil trials to be conducted in other areas that are "more convenient" than St. Louis; another Ehlmann brainchild, a law that would repeal all "quotas" based on sex, race, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, including schools; a law proposed by state Rep. Sam Gaskill (R-Washburn) that would allow one person to attack another person if the other person is defiling a U.S. flag; and the bill that won't go away, proposing the creation of special license plates for square dancers by Rep. Bill Ransdall (D-Waynesville). (MR)

Contributors: Richard Byrne, Melinda Roth, D.J. Wilson

 
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