The U Always Seems to Be Able to Come Up With Money for Advertising Campaigns and Lobbyists...
In what's revealing itself as a clash of cultures — academia vs. politics — the University of Minnesota voted "no" Wednesday to the Central Corridor light-rail route favored by every local political entity involved.
But the consensus that was sought is gone, at least for the moment.
University Vice President Kathleen O'Brien said the U doesn't plan to sue to stop the project, but she didn't rule out continued lobbying by Patton Boggs, an influential Washington, D.C., firm that the U has retained for, in O'Brien's words, "less than five figures."
But local and state officials predict the now-undeniable discord could kill federal approval of the project — a prediction the university says is without merit.
University officials hired Patton Boggs to seek out a federal timetable contrary to the Met Council's, a directive that local officials read as a challenge to their competence. University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg wrote a 23-page legal memo to federal officials charging that the U was being railroaded, a memo that politicians said was naive because it invited scrutiny from federal bureaucrats.
Who's right and who's wrong remains to be seen, but after listening to O'Brien on Wednesday, state Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, stepped up to an array of TV cameras and microphones and let loose the word politicians had been muttering for months but had refused to say publicly: arrogance.
"The U is simply accustomed to getting their own way," she said.