Thursday, January 24, 2008

TeePaw to Junkyard Dog:

Shape Up Or Watch Light Rail Die

(and it will be your fault...)

Previous posts have introduced OurLeader's self-assumed nom de guerre, Junkyard Dog, and cautioned him about the fate of Leroy Brown (aka the Junkyard Dog). For the backstory see:

The Junkyard Dog Goes Up Against TeePaw

Or, We May Need to Learn How To Play With the Cards We've Got


A Call For Leadership

President Bruininks, Are You Listening?

The latest from the now out in the open skirmish is reported in the Strib:

Light rail project too costly, Pawlenty warns

Last update: January 23, 2008 - 3:48 PM

He wants project leaders to cut costs by one-third.

With public works funding increasingly tight, Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued a stern warning today that escalating costs and lack of agreement may jeopardize the Central Corridor Light Rail transit line between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Costs for the project, now projected at $1.25 billion, must come down by a third, Pawlenty said in a letter today to leaders on the project. "To qualify for federal funding -- and to garner my support," Pawlenty said in the letter, the project must meet federal cost-effectiveness guidelines.

"Competition for state bonding dollars is intense," Pawlenty wrote. Although Pawlenty has backed the rail project in the past, he has become dismayed in recent months at the infighting and the bid-'em-up dynamic that has emerged.

The governor signaled earlier this month, when he released his bonding recommendations, that the squabbling had cooled him on the project. The $70 million earmarked in his recommendations, he said, was a placeholder, offered as an inducement to those involved to shape up.

On Wednesday, Pawlenty said that in addition to cost containment, local governments must commit to their share of capital and operating funds. "These elements are a prerequisite to my support and (to) the project moving forward," he wrote.

The letter was sent to the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Hennepin and Ramsey county commissioners, and the president of the University of Minnesota.

The Metropolitan Council will vote on the project's cost and scope at a Feb. 27 meeting.

So what is it going to be, President Bruininks and spokesperson O'Brien? Eighty percent of a loaf or nothing? Please try to consider the common good and do not sabotage this effort. Remember that you wanted the stadium ever so much and your wish was granted. You can't always get what you want. Governor Pawlenty would be only too happy to drop this mess off at Morrill Hall. If you blow it, the governor won't have to pay anything for light rail. Please keep this in mind.

And, as Steve Jobs would say, one other thing. With respect to funding for the U, the governor has been squeezing you like a bandoneon. It might be fun to thump your chest and run the motor loud, in the friendly confines of the red-telephone equipped Strib editorial office, but it is unwise to threaten the governor with junkyard dog behavior and accuse him of lack of leadership. Do you want to sleep with the fishies? Pawlenty is a professional politician and you are not. As a famous philosopher once said: "A man's got to know his limitations."

We're all in this together at the U of M, or at least we used to be. Let's drop this foolishness about being one of the top three public research universities in the world and commit to being in the top half of the Big Ten. This is a goal that we can all embrace and it might be more convincing to citizens of the state. It also has the virtue of being achievable unlike the ambitious aspiration of being one of the top three public research universities on the planet.

Welcome back to the fray. Bonzo

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