Monday, November 1, 2010

 A Database of U of M Documents

And an Excellent Troubled Waters Post

Helping to See the Forest for the Trees...

The Land Stewardship Project has posted a database of documents on the Troubled Waters fiasco. They are available as a complete download or as subsets by author, such as: Brunininks, Levine...

Land Stewardship Project staff members have sorted through over 2,000 University of Minnesota documents related to the Troubled Waters controversy. Released as a result of LSP’s Data Practices Act request, the majority of the documents are internal e-mails.
LSP sorted through all the documents and pulled out the most compelling ones. We have organized them chronologically and also by selected topics. Below is a description of the document sets we have created. All are Adobe Acrobat documents that are capable of being searched by keywords or phrases.
  1. All Docs: A comprehensive set of e-mails in chronological order from Aug. 10 to Oct. 2, 2010. Click here to download this file (307 pages; 4.8 MB). 
  2. Key Docs: Select subset of key e-mails from the larger group above in chronological order ranging from Aug. 10 to Oct. 2, 2010. Click here to download this file (121 pages; 2.4 MB).
  3. Himle Docs: These are U of M vice-president Karen Himle’s e-mails. Note: You will see that text has been redacted from several of the e-mails. LSP has submitted a follow-up letter to the University of Minnesota Office of the General Counsel asking for information on the redacted text. Click here to download this file (42 pages; 834 KB). 
  4. Bruininks Docs: These are U of M President Robert Bruininks’ e-mails. Click here to download this file (6 pages; 165 KB).
  5. Levine Docs: These are e-mails from Al Levine, Dean of the U of M’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Click here to download this file (45 pages; 748 KB).
  6. Duncanson Docs: Exchange about the film between Al Levine and Kristin Weeks Ducanson, vice chair of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council’s board of directors. Click here to download this file (23 pages; 688 KB).
There is also an outstanding chronological article that helps to make a little clearer the three-ring circus that was the administration's reaction to the Troubled Waters fiasco.

by Brian DeVore, Land Stewardship Project

Throughout the Troubled Waters brouhaha, U of M officials have maintained that there was “no outside pressure” to censor the film. E-mails and other documents obtained through an LSP Data Practices Act request show that no overt pressure was needed: deans, vice-presidents and communications staffers as far back as April bent over backwards to make sure Big Ag was not offended by the Bell Museum’s film.

On April 14, Kristin Weeks Duncanson, vice chair of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council’s board of directors, wrote an e-mail to College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) dean Al Levine describing her impressions of the film. This e-mail is significant because someone at the University felt compelled to share as early as last spring (without the filmmakers’ knowledge) a cut of the movie with a major player in corporate agriculture. Duncanson is a past president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, which in 2008 temporarily pulled $1.5 million in funding from the U of M after having a fit over research by U scientist David Tilman showing environmental problems with biofuels. Agriculture deans pay attention to things like that.

[Duncanson] sees his presence [Tilman] in the film as a major lighting rod for controversy: “No matter what the guy says the Corn and Soybean folks will be upset—He could be delivery [sic] money from the “Prize Patrol” and those guys will slam the door.”

On Aug. 13, Levine provides Weller an “historical” explanation for why “crisis” was considered a proper moniker for the plan: “Things rise to the President’s office and we have meeting after meeting for weeks on end. It’s much worse than most would understand.” He goes on to describe a meeting involving U President Robert Bruininks: “I can remember when we had to meet f2f with the President and the soybeans [sic] and corn growers. The claims were that articles in Science had no peer review!” Nothing like a little history of “outside pressure” to squash future intellectual inquiry.

Wow, just wow...

1 comment:

Beth said...

I really love the fact that they expect us to believe there was no outside pressure to sensor the film. There is always outside pressure!