Friday, September 17, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser...

Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?

(or who pulled the plug on the U of M's Mississippi River
Documentary and Why?)

Molly Priesmeyer reports:

The University of Minnesota looks to be getting itself into deeper hot water.

...University Relations sent out a statement late yesterday asserting that University officials were reviewing the film to see if it "meets the specifications of the legislative appropriation to the University." The documentary was funded in large part by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

However, Michael Banker, communications manager for LCCMR, said that, while the University has the authority for determining whether the film meets University standards, "the authority to determine whether the project meets the language of the appropriation and LCCMR-approved work program is the responsibility of LCCMR and the legislature."

Karen Himle, the VP of University Relations, yanked the film from TPT more than a week ago. Banker said he can't explain why because the University has yet to give LCCMR any specifics.

[I have yet to see it established that Karen Himle "yanked" the film. Full disclosure: I consider KH to be a good person and a friend...]

"I made a request to Karen Himle on September 16th to provide us with documentations of concerns so we can consider them within our own review," Banker said. "I was informed that the documentation did not exist at the time."

Banker said that, so far, Himle is the only one to talk with LCCMR about her concerns, and none of them are rooted in specifics. "To the best of my knowledge, it appears that the concerns and requests to halt the film rose from the Office of University Relations," he said. "So far, Karen Himle is the only one who has been in communication with LCCMR about concerns."

Still, the question is whether Karen Himle's connection to Himle Horner and the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, a proponent of ethanol and industrial agriculture, poses a serious conflict of interest for the University. Dan Wolter, the director of News Service in the Office of University Relations, has yet to respond to questions raised by TC Daily Planet about issues of conflict of interest.

"We still don't know what specific concerns the University has," Banker said. "But because the University raised concerns, we are in the process of extensively reviewing the film to see if it meets the appropriation language. However, we are still waiting to hear what their specific concerns are so we can better make that determination."

Other funders, including the McKnight Foundation and the Mississippi River Fund told the Star Tribune that they were troubled by the decision and waiting for an explanation from the University of Minnesota.

[I don't like it, but I won't say why?]

1 comment:

momo said...

Dean's words "Levine says the film isn't inaccurate, but it's unbalanced."