The St. Paul Welcoming Committee

When it comes to attracting people to St. Paul, city officials take it one person at a time.

MPR News reporter Tom Weber is giving up on the mean streets of Minneapolis and moving to St. Paul. Don’t think the mayor of St. Paul hasn’t noticed that he’s stolen a free agent from the bigshots across the river.

Tom writes:

Yesterday at about 5:00, while in the middle of crashing on deadline for a story, the phone rang. I expected it to be my editor but the other voice said “Hello, this is the St. Paul Welcoming Committee, welcoming you to St. Paul. I’m mayor Chris Coleman.”

Oh come on. I love a joke as much as the next guy, but this was not a good time.

Yes, I’m moving to St. Paul this weekend but I knew this had to be fake. A certain fellow reporter friend and me had been trading barbs for weeks about my move to St. Paul. “The welcoming committee hasn’t approved your application to move,” he’d joke. “I got the special waiver,” I’d retort.

The problem? This guy on this call really sounded like Chris Coleman. No offense to Hizzoner, but what comedian would spend all that time perfecting the Chris Coleman impression? I asked him who told had told him to call me, he replied that he just knew about it and wanted to call. Then my editor actually did call and I put this actor joker guy on hold – only for a few seconds, but definitely on hold. The “mayor” and I chatted a little more and then I said “I really have to go, I’m kind of crashing on something here.” He said “No problem, just wanted to welcome you to St. Paul.”

After the call, I still didn’t believe it really was him and sought my friend to find out how he’d pulled off this joke with some impersonator. When we finally spoke, he confessed: He had called in a favor with someone in the mayor’s office and the caller really was Chris Coleman. And yes, I did put him on hold.

It’s worth pointing out that the St. Paul Welcoming Committee was the name of the group that organized protests during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in 2008.