History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blogger to the fore in Jacob Wetterling case

Joy Baker
I remember being at the first-ever Minnesota Timberwolves home opener. The family of Jacob Wetterling came out to the center of the court before the game, for a rousing acclamation. The Wetterling abduction/disappearance case was of course fresh.
You may have forgotten that our Timberwolves played their first season at our beloved old Dome. I attended something like five games and had great fun. Dad (RIP) came with me to one. Bill Musselman was coach, that guy with the maniacal reputation who had soared and then crashed/burned with our U of M Gophers in the '70s.
The Timberwolves charted a course where they would try to maximize winning from the outset, rather than accept the usual lumps of an expansion team. Patrick Reusse would later scold us for enjoying that. Well, I enjoyed it. But, by dropping lower in the draft order than otherwise would have been the case, we may have picked up a "curse" of sorts that has diminished winning opportunities ever since. I have lost interest. Anyone who has seriously followed the T-Wolves over the last 25 years: Shame on you for wasting so much time.
I'm not sure what was accomplished simply having the Wetterling family come forward as if they were being feted in some way. They were simply victims of a horrible tragedy. The pre-game spectacle wasn't going to accomplish anything.
 
Determination by a new media practitioner
It turns out there were lots of wasted efforts over many years trying to unravel the Wetterling mystery. All it took in the end to solve it, was a curious blogger. Her name: Joy Baker. Efforts ought to be made to get Joy some generous compensation. She did what "all the king's horses and all the king's men," i.e. those law enforcement "professionals" with their uniforms, failed to do. It's yet another example of how our new digital, online world is being disruptive. Our old clunky, bureaucratic institutions are revealing all their limitations, while people empowered by the new online world are showing what they can do, unencumbered.
The recent John Walsh TV special on CNN showed the world how a determined Joy Baker simply sought the truth. This pure motivation, minus any bureaucratic or "turf"-centered limitations, penetrated through the apparent thicket of mystery.
Meanwhile this law enforcement guy, this uniformed Sanner fellow, came off looking pathetic. He said something about how bloggers can "speculate" whereas people like him, apparently, cannot? Really? Isn't the whole process of following "leads" based on speculation?
Wasn't it the likes of Sanner who "speculated" in making this Rassier fellow a "person of interest?" Do they realize the damage they are doing to someone's life in applying this "person of interest" tag? I suppose they would deny that such an individual is a "suspect." What, then, is he? Certainly the public would see an individual in this light.
I hope Mr. Rassier, a terrific trumpet player, is suing and I hope he gets a windfall. I played in the St. Cloud State University concert band with Dan for two quarters back in the 1970s. If you're reading this, Dan, "hello." Looks like you're keeping your "chops" in shape. Here's what's disgusting about the situation he ended up in: He's an adult who lives with his parents, so, was this the basis for thinking he might be a little "strange?" There are people all around us who can be considered strange for all sorts of reasons. This lifestyle "norm" that is promoted by our commercial media is a myth - it's a consumerist ideal. In truth, "the majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
Mr. Rassier had the great misfortune of living out where the Wetterling tragedy happened. How would you like it if something like that happened where you live? How would you like being viewed with suspicion?
Law enforcement apparently pursued tens of thousands of leads regarding the incident. I'd like to know how far-fetched some of those were. Oh, remember those ridiculous "sketches" of suspects that were pinned up, presumably all over Minnesota? Remember that hyperbolic caption? "We MUST FIND these men." I love the emphasis there. "YOU TOO can prevent forest fires!"
Then there was the line: "So JACOB can be found." Don't we all know guys who would roughly match those drawings? We were informed that one of these guys had a "bold, authoritative manner." Like that's real revelatory. Would anyone in his right mind think that these stupid drawings were going to lead to anything helpful? Did the artist see a matchbook cover ad for drawing school? Let's call all this a charade. It was a charade helping law enforcement people "look good." They went through the motions as per the expectations of their well-funded bureaucracies.
And now a mere humble blogger comes along and shows us all how it's done. What a relief. What a relief to simply know the mystery is over. Who cares who the successful sleuth eventually was? But, something should be done to see she's properly compensated. Quite generously too. I suggest that she write a book and get a good publisher to guide her.
I wonder if all those uniform-wearing professionals are cursing under their breath about this. "Turf protection" is an extremely strong force. Taxi businesses are going wild trying to resist these new Internet-driven transit entities. Up to now the forces unleashed by the Internet have been unstoppable, and "disruption" has been widespread.
 
Yours truly, making waves too
I sensed that local law enforcement was not comfortable with me blogging about the Craig Peterson case. I got an email from the police chief one day. I had prematurely reported that the charges were dropped, based on rumors that were ridiculously pervasive at the time. OK, so I was premature or you might say "wrong." The chief indicated that he expected me to "acknowledge my error." Was that a threat? Well, I made sure I wore my seat belt 100 percent of the time after that.
I have been told that my writing may ultimately have affected the resolution of the case. I was told that my writing had a strong common thread of indicating this was a "he said, she said" case with dubious grounding. I'm not looking for any pats on the back. I'm just an unemployed person with a background in writing.
Anyone non-local reading this, here's a little background: Craig Peterson is the high school principal in Morris who was on paid leave for most of last year due to being charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct.
One reason us new media journalists can be so powerful is that we do what we do for almost no cost. So, we don't need to be blessed by material resources to do what we do, unlike "professional" law enforcement. Maybe if those jerks would spend less time on seat belt citations and minor marijuana offenses, they could actually solve cases like Wetterling.
Anyway, congrats to Joy Baker for her raw energy and concern, simply seeking the truth. It makes too much sense, doesn't it? Our new communications age is like that.
I went to that inaugural Timberwolves game by bus. Our team lost to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan (in his prime). Jordan scored in the mid-40s but it was a "quiet" scoring total, friend Rick Lucken remarked to me. I remember the players shaking hands with owners Wolfenson and Ratner in pre-game. Rick had a chat with Bob Stein. I loved "Crunch" the mascot. Coach Musselman was his usual obsessed self. Basketball was really a blast at the Dome.
 
Addendum: I have communicated with a couple friends/contacts since the Walsh special, and below is an interesting portion of an email I received back:
 
I have a repair tech friend who now lives in the Long Prairie area, who says (and, for some reason, proudly) that he is No. 20 on the FBI's "person of interest list" for the Wetterling case. Seems he lived next door to the Wetterlings in St. Joe back when it happened. He says the FBI sends a couple agents out every two years or so, and they ask him questions again and again - sometimes at his house, and sometimes they "take him downtown." It's mostly just to see if he remembers anything that would be of help.
 
Addendum #2: Scott Thoma, former Willmar newspaper scribe, indicated his next book would be about the Wetterling case. He appeared at our Morris Public Library to present his book about the Tracy MN tornado. He mentioned the Wetterling book project in an informal conversation afterward. I wonder how far along he is with it. The recent revelations would either scrub the book or cause him to approach it anew. He could make Joy Baker the centerpiece.
I ran the Rassier name by him. This was before the recent revelations. "They (the authorities) think he did it," Scott said.
See? That's how the "person of interest" tag gets interpreted. Thoma left the West Central Tribune under circumstances that seem similar to how I left the Morris paper. Both papers are owned by Forum Communications of Fargo ND. It's a Machiavellian company. If they wanted Thoma gone, I'm sure they made it happen. Oh, I'm sure he's a very hard-working and competent person. He was sports editor. Community papers make such a fuss over sports, so far beyond the real level of interest. They make "heroes" out of sports stars which I feel isn't real healthy for the overall school community. A sociologist could do a study.
 
Addendum #3: This morning (Friday, Sept. 5) I heard back from an old friend of mine, a Morris native who today lives in Cold Spring. He has familiarity with Mr. Rassier and has always been skeptical of any suspicion directed his way. Obviously my friend is happy now. Here is what he communicated:
 
It's funny you should mention the John Walsh special on CNN.  We gave up TV about six years ago, but we were in Las Vegas over the weekend and we had just gotten back to our room when (my wife) turned on the TV. The TV station that was on was CNN and they ran a short promo on what was coming up next and it was the Wetterling case. I said to (my wife): I wonder if they will include that blogger's update, and they did! Timing is everything. I thought they did an excellent job on it. They didn't name the guy they suspected for legal reasons (I assume) but it did take the heat off of Dan Rassier. I never see the guy (these days) but I'm sure he is feeling better.
In the end I think the sheriff bungled the case. He said something that implied bloggers could get certain info they could not. What a bunch of B.S.! I'm voting for the other guy in November.

 
Just consider: A kid disappears and then almost anyone, it seems, can be a person of interest. In the meantime that sub-human scum of a perpetrator leaves a trail that affects the lives of more than just the victim/family. Rassier has picked up a stigma that he will work to shake, I'm sure. He has been an adjunct type of teacher in music, I have read. He is a distance running enthusiast. He looks trim and healthy in a photo I found online. He may have lost weight because of the stress.
It's a relief we no longer have to have a trace of suspicion about Mr. Rassier. But think about the impact on his life. Joy Baker comes along like an angel for him (and others I'm sure).
A scary afterthought: If I had blogged extensively about the Wetterling case several years ago, would I be contacted by authorities?
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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