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Tough day for U of M sports: Now, golf coach files lawsuit

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Pawlentypalooza book tour, tough grocery business, action on invasive species, and a smart state move on refinancing. Plus we’re No. 1 in RumChata!
Read Tuesday Afternoon Edition


Tough day for Gopher sports Tuesday, and that was without any games. First, there was the restraining order business with the basketball player (detailed in The Glean’s Tuesday Afternoon Edition). Then, Rochelle Olson at the Strib tells the next step in the story of a U of M associate golf coach — she’s suing the university for firing her because she’s gay: “Kathryn Brenny served a lawsuit Tuesday on the University of Minnesota, alleging that athletic department officials took away her coaching duties after the golf director learned she is a lesbian. The 16-page complaint alleges that the university and golf director John Harris violated her rights as a member of a protected class under the state Human Rights Act. The complaint said Harris ‘did not want to hire a homosexual to coach the women’s golf team.’ … Brenny agreed to a severance package, then rejected it after she heard that an athletic department employee told at least one player that ‘Harris discovered she was a homosexual and did not want her on the road with the team.’ “

Beth Ann Baldry at Fox Sports’ Golfweek blog says:  “Brenny, 30, alleges that Harris minimized her coaching duties upon learning shortly after hiring her Aug. 30 as associate head coach that she is a homosexual. Brenny claims she was not allowed to travel to team events or offer swing instruction at practice.  ‘Harris delegated administrative tasks to (Brenny), such as typing up the schedules for the women’s and men’s teams and escorting several recruits for the men’s golf team to a university football game,” according to the complaint. Brenny claims that when she scheduled a team meeting and photograph, Harris told her to cancel both, saying, ‘You have nothing to talk to these girls about.’ “

The Pawlentypalooza book tour stopped for the warm embrace of FoxNews and Neal Cavuto while in New York Tuesday. It gave the ex-gov a chance to reiterate his claim that a little shutdown, like the kind the Tea Party folks are threatening for the U.S. government, is good for you. Says a story by Jillian Rayfield at Talking Points Memo: “Pawlenty explained to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto: ‘In Minnesota, it’s a very liberal place. It leans pretty hard the other way. I had to draw lines in the sand and I had to back it up. It wasn’t always pretty but — we had shut downs.’. Cavuto asked him if he regretted not compromising more, and asked if ‘maybe you overdid it?’ ” Pawlenty replied: ‘One of things I wonder is whether I should have let the shut down run longer to get more of my agenda through.’ Cavuto pointed out that at the federal level ‘they say that is playing with fire.’ Pawlenty replied: ‘In Minnesota we survived it OK. You don’t want to be reckless or irresponsible about it, but there’s going to have to be some lines in the sand.’ ” Like maybe 6.2 billion of them.

The Strib’s Kevin Diaz met up with Pawlenty in Manhattan. The book-before-campaign shtick, he says, is “a well-trod path for presidential hopefuls, including such better-known Republican rivals as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, all of whom have penned best-selling memoirs. ‘Pawlenty has to introduce himself, naturally,’ said Washington political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. ‘I don’t know how well his book will do, but it’s part of the American political ritual.’ The challenge for Pawlenty remains his relative obscurity. Despite repeated forays to Washington, D.C., and frequent stints on cable TV talk shows, Pawlenty has yet to capture the national political limelight. ‘I had no idea who he was until my sister told me about him yesterday,’ said New Jersey resident Mary Ann Ammon, a member of ‘The View’s’ studio audience.

Tough quarter for Super Valu. The AP reports: “Eden Prairie-based Supervalu lost $202 million, or 95 cents per share, for the period ended Dec. 4. A year ago it earned $109 million, or 51 cents per share.” And: “Supervalu was one of the industry laggards heading into the recession and its problems have been compounded since then as shoppers cut spending and competition intensified. Its stock was one of the worst performers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 in 2010, dropping 24 percent.”

The transparency of the Minneapolis City Council’s own budget is the issue in a piece by Steve Brandt of the Strib: “The Minneapolis City Council lopped firefighters and cops from the payroll, and it restricted the spending of neighborhoods. But when it comes to making cuts to its own budget, the council so far has been slow to act.” And: “Just how much the council spends is not very visible, despite the council’s adoption last year of ‘transparency, accountability and fairness’ as city strategies. The size of the council budget is not broken out within the budget of the city clerk’s office, which totals $8.2 million. Council President Barbara Johnson said she knows that the council will need to restructure operations to save money, but in an interview she gave no timetable for that.”

Invasive species are a big issue in the Great Lakes, and the AP says two organizations are studying how to separate junk fish like Asian carp from migrating between them: “The study is sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission, which includes the region’s eight states, and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative representing more than 70 mayors and other local officials. They announced Tuesday that the study is under way now that they’ve reached their $2 million funding goal. The money is coming from a half-dozen private foundations. A team of engineers, biologists and other experts will do the technical work.”

Our weather? Eh. Any of our sports teams? Don’t remind us. But dang it, we’re No. 1 in RumChata. Monica Wright at City Pages clues us in: “The year-old rum-infused horchata liqueur was a new discovery for us over Christmas, but Tom Maas, owner of the Wisconsin-produced beverage, says Minnesota is his No. 1 market. That’s right, Wisconsin is producing a booze-infused horchata beverage, and Maas says surprise is only natural. ‘People always ask why we’re not in Mexico, but if you’re working with dairy you go to the dairy state to get the best quality and the best technology.’ The liqueur uses the same products found in a traditional horchata real dairy cream, rice, vanilla and cinnamon and infuses it with Caribbean rum. So why is Minnesota sucking this stuff down like no one else? Maas credits the cold climate. ‘A shot of RumChata in hot chocolate is wonderful.’ “

Speaking of our fine cheesey neighbors, Tom Scheck at MPR files on the “news service’s” Capital View blog: “The latest economic update from Minnesota Management and Budget says the state of Wisconsin has not paid the state’s final tax reciprocity payment to the state of Minnesota. The update says Minnesota is waiting for $58 million from their neighbors to the east.” And: “I contacted the state of Wisconsin’s Revenue Department to see why the payment hasn’t been made. An official there sent this written statement from Richard Chandler, the Wisconsin Secretary of Revenue: ‘Minnesota unilaterally ended the tax reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin 15 months ago, which appears to have led to a communications breakdown between past administrations.’ “

Finally, someone’s playing smart. Mike Cook, writing in The Session Daily, says: “The Department of Transportation has seen mixed results in funding, but one recent action is expected to save significant money in these tough economic times. At its first meeting, the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee learned that some of the state’s transportation accounts are seeing monetary reductions but one saw a large gain. Refinancing debt service at a lower interest rate early in fiscal year 2011 is expected to save about $115 million through fiscal year 2013, based on a November forecast prepared by the department. ‘This is one of the positive, bright spots,’ said Warren Skallman, MnDOT budget director.” Come up with another 60 or so of those moves and we’ll be getting somewhere.