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Hopeful Signs On Central Corridor - The Strib Edges Away from JYD

or, Has the Red Phone Been Disconnected?

Mr. B. has noted on previous occasions the symbiotic relationship between Morrill Hall and the Star Tribune. For the first time in recent memory the Strib appears to be backing away from President Bruininks (self-described before Christmas as a Junkyard Dog, or JYD). The Tribune now seems to be suggesting that compromise is necessary and that the world will not end if a tunnel for light rail does not run through the U. They even pay a backhanded compliment to OurGovernor, Tim Pawlenty.

Don't get me wrong – I'm no Pawlenty fanboy and disagree with many of his positions. But I respect someone who has principles and sticks to them. It is not difficult to predict where Pawlenty will come down on a given issue, unlike a lot of other politicians.

And in a political system we have to play with the cards we've got. Something that President Bruininks and Provost Sullivan seem to be very slow to learn – to the University's detriment.

OurLeader or his spokesperson, O'Brien, should not be making imperious statements and refusing to engage in honest discussion and negotiation about what is the best light rail plan for everyone involved, including the University. These public tiffs with the governor and former Regent Peter Bell are embarrassing, unseemly, unnecessary and harmful to the University. Where is Dan Wolters?

I am not a fan of Peter Bell's politics, but I am a big fan of his as a person. He is a charming, reasonable, man of principle. Why didn't OurLeader invite him over for a chat or even – God forbid – go visit him at Peter's place?

An imperial presidency does not serve a land grant institution well. Remember Mark Yudof and the pancake thing? Getting down off the horse and mingling with the peons would be helpful, both to learn what is important to your own constituency as well as politically.

Think about it, Bob.

From the Strib

It's time for decisions on Central Corridor

Tunnel alternatives deserve serious consideration.

Last update: January 26, 2008 - 4:42 PM

Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued two stern messages last week to planners of the Central Corridor, the proposed light-rail line between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. His directives: Spend no more than $840 million, and settle your differences on the design by Feb. 27.

The governor, a good student of group dynamics, knows that a firm deadline and bottom line help move committees toward decisions. His decree, bolstered by a threat to withdraw his support for the project, likely had that goal.

A tunnel through the east bank campus of the University of Minnesota, once considered a must by university officials, is now one of at least three proposals from that quarter. The cost of a tunnel spiked when the location of the new Gophers football stadium was factored into its design. A campus tunnel now carries a price tag in the $250 million range, and pushes the whole project as currently conceived past $1.1 billion. That number is too far from $840 million to fly.

An independent newspaper not in knee-jerk support of every University plea for more money is welcome. Lately, the Pioneer Press seems to be serving as a better example of this kind of reporting and editorial policy.

Hopefully, the Star Tribune in the future will show more of this willingness to carefully examine what goes on at the University of Minnesota. It is not necessary to be a homer in order to be a supporter of the University of Minnesota. Saying something critical of the University does not make one a hater.

The goal of most people in the state of Minnesota is to make the U better. There seems to be some disagreement about how to accomplish this. Let's have a free and open discussion of these matters.

The Strib has been smoked in the past because of some of their long ago activities in turning over rocks at the U. Thus, the more recent athletic scandals at the U were discovered and exposed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ironic considering the fact that a certain Strib sports reporter – well past his expiration date - is essentially an adjunct at the department of athletics.

Maybe the Strib will even disconnect the direct Red Telephone line to Morrill Hall?

Ciao, Bonzo

ps. If you are reading this on Sunday afternoon, go outside and go for a walk.

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