Short Cuts

The vanquished candidate got on the cell phone to the Taproom, site of the Reed victory party. "Tell him his opponent is on the phone," said Cacchione to whoever answered. Cacchione congratulated Reed, then handed the phone to Clark, who, after offering her congrats, gave her potential successor an earful. What was said stays between them, but one wag later blurted that it sounded like Granny dressing down Jethro.

Reached over the weekend at home, Cacchione waxed philosophical over his abortive bid. "Now I don't have to have an opinion about speed bumps in Compton Heights," he mused. "I can say, 'I don't care.'" Cacchione says he's inclined to keep out of the political arena from now on, "but I think it's something that if people feel strongly about, they should go after it. I wanted it. It didn't happen. I'm dealing with it quite well. You look forward, and you move on." (WS)

BILL OF FIGHTS: A good columnist always keeps an eye out for potential targets, and Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan is about as skillful as they come in spotting the good ones. And nothing gets a newspaperman juiced up more than a torrential negative reaction. Which is exactly what McClellan got when he tossed a couple of lines in a column in late '97 that rubbed the upper-crust elite at John Bur-roughs, the private school in Ladue, the wrong way. Writing about a stock-market nosedive, McClellan wrote that it made the common man feel good to hear that the rich sometimes have problems, too. Then he compared it to hearing that the Burroughs football team got its ass kicked in a game. He got some complaints. McClellan wrote another column the next week gigging the Burroughs kids a bit more. Noting that tuition is more than $10,000 a year and that the kids come from well-connected families, McClellan wrote: "it will surely teach them a good lesson about life if some kids less blessed kicked the stuffings out of them on the football field." Then came the flood of reaction from the Burroughs community. Next thing you know, the P-D editorial page decided to run a column -- McClellan-style -- from a Burroughs student named Andrew Volpe, wherein the presumably well-connected kid made fun of McClellan, accusing him of living in Clayton and rubbing shoulders with the ruling class himself, all the while pretending to be the common man. Ouch. On Monday, McClellan returned to that deep well again, this time in a column that began with the Ladue public-school district's decision to opt out of the school-desegregation program and stop accepting African-American students from city schools.

That's when the column got funky, as city Treasurer (and our cover guy this week) Larry Williams might say. McClellan mentioned that his newspaper's editorial page had rapped the Ladue district's knuckles about opting out of the deseg program and reminded readers that it was the same editorial page that ran Volpe's biting satire of his column more than a year ago. "That's because the editor of the editorial page is a member of the Burroughs community. She graduated from the school and has a child at the school," McClellan wrote. That would be Christine Bertelson. Is there a feud going on inside the P-D that is perhaps spilling over into the content of the paper? Not at all, says McClellan. Bertelson had asked him whether he minded if she ran Volpe's column before she did it. "Bertelson and I are friends," he says. (SA)

Written by D. J. Wilson, Wm. Stage and Safir Ahmed.
E-mail us at shortcuts@rftstl.com.

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