Saturday, April 17, 2010

"I think they were a little grumpy..."

(University of Minnesota President Bruininks)

What an inane comment to make.
The President is hoping that the legislature will help him to pull his chestnuts out of the fire, and then he says something like this. After poisoning the well for years, he calls elected officials grumpy and presumes that he is back in their good graces?

Lord love a duck.

His words will come back to haunt him. Many state legislators have seen their own very worthwhile projects line-itemed by the Governor. They feel that they have been more than generous with the University, given the cuts that they have have been forced to make elsewhere. I'm sure they are just lining up to help President Bruininks and the Governor with this problem.

In your dreams, Mr. President.

How was the figure of $12.5 mil arrived at? And where is the university's half coming from? Did the U admin check with the legislature beforehand? Did they agree to the $12.5 mil figure? Or was this something that you just worked out with the Governor and you expect the legislature to just meekly go along with?

The Jockeying Continues...

Lest you think the granting of an easement is the end of it on the University of Minnesota and Central Corridor light rail (from the Pioneer-Press):

Among the key elements of Friday's agreement, which still must be fully ratified:

Both sides agreed on how to deal with potential problems, should they arise. They involve complex scenarios, such as this: If more electromagnetic interference reaches labs than is supposed to and train operators have done everything they can to fix it, but university research is still at risk, the Met Council will for pay for up to $200,000 in repairs. If the costs go higher, they'll split the extra costs with the U. This particular scenario involved concessions from both the university and the Met Council.

[So no blank checks, the U has skin in the game...]

The Met Council will support the university in a new request at the Capitol for $12.5 million in bonding authority to pay to move a handful of labs containing the most sensitive research equipment.

[Which is what should have been done from the very beginning if the University had been honest about the situation.]

University President Robert Bruininks said a $25 million plan to move the labs is still "preliminary," but he said he plans to pursue it during the current legislative session. Acknowledging that might be a tall order, he said, "We're going to try, but if it doesn't work this session, then the next session."

Bruininks added: "I have a commitment from the governor that if the bill reaches his desk in a form he can support, he will sign it."

[Wow, that is unequivocal support!]

It's unclear how good Bruininks' and the university's standing is in the political arena. In late March, when the U refused to give the green light for the advance street work to begin on campus, elected officials on both sides of the river lashed out at the institution.

"I've had it," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said at the time. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin called the U "myopic," and Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough accused the university of "arrogance and pettiness." State Rep. Alice Hausman, a St. Paul Democrat, said the U's refusal to give the summer construction go-ahead "shows a pattern of noncooperation."

Of such comments, Bruininks said Friday, "I think they were a little grumpy ... but I think we've done our part and will hopefully be back in their good graces.

[Sure, Bob, whatever you say...]

Later this month, Bell and O'Brien will return to mediation to try to iron out remaining disagreements with the eventual goal of the U withdrawing its lawsuit.


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