Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Eric Kaler sworn in as U president with plenty of pomp

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: AG’s latest lawsuit; stadium booster disses sales tax vote; “busy” T-PAW writing, monitoring Tunisa elections; state “move-ins” drop; a new concertmaster; and more.
Read Thur. Morning Edition


Eric Kaler was sworn in today as the U of M’s new president. Doug Belden of the PiPress advanced the event, saying, “Here’s a bit of background on the ceremony, should you decide to check it out:
The procession: Delegates from more than 50 colleges and universities around the world are scheduled to participate, starting with the oldest institution on the list, the University of Graz (Austria), which dates to 1585. U faculty members process behind the delegates. Kaler comes last.
The outfits: The cut, ornamentation and color of academic gowns all carry meanings. Kaler will be dressed as befits a University of Minnesota Ph.D., with a maroon robe and black velvet bars, a black velvet tam and a blue hood.
The symbols: During the ceremony, the U president is presented with a mace and medallion, symbolizing university leadership.”

Kind of makes you wonder what happened to the incense and myrrh.

The for-profit college business model features a heavy reliance on taxpayer money. Minnesota AG Lori Swanson has seen enough to file suit. The AP story says: “The Minnesota attorney general has joined a lawsuit against the country’s second-largest for-profit college company, alleging that two of its schools in Minnesota illegally collected taxpayer-financed financial aid. Attorney General Lori Swanson announced the lawsuit today against Education Management Corp. and its Argosy University and Art Institutes International schools. She alleges the colleges were ineligible to receive the state financial aid because the company paid incentives to its recruiters based on the enrollment of new students, violating federal law.” That is kind of an open secret, isn’t it?

The PiPress’ Belden, again, has a story on the latest thinking about that proposed vote on a Vikings stadium tax: “If Ramsey County decides to put a Minnesota Vikings stadium sales tax to voters in 2012, the stadium project — at least in Arden Hills — is dead, a leading legislator said Wednesday. ‘For all intents and purposes, I think it would kill the project, for that location,’ said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the pointman in the House on the stadium. ‘If somebody wanted to kill the project, that would be a good way to do it.’ Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, called the prediction premature. She said a referendum, which she favors, would present a hurdle, but it’s too early to say it would scuttle the deal, the details of which are still evolving.” Points to Lanning for unusual candor.

Our Guy T-Paw tries out his Deep Thinking chops in an opinion piece for Politico. One takeaway is this: “Practical, common-sense conservative ideas to increase jobs and reduce government burdens improve people’s lives. Voters, whether Republican, Democrat or independent, understand this. As governor, I found innovative ways to balance Minnesota’s budget, cut spending, reform health care and bolster education — all without raising taxes. … We should not give Obama a major additional advantage by nominating a vulnerable candidate. That would be a historic missed opportunity for the conservative movement — and the cause to restore America. Social Security, for example, provides a vital safety net for millions of Americans. While Romney has long seen that Social Security has severe, long-term financial problems, he favors saving and protecting the program by fixing those problems. He has not denounced the program — as some have done — and called it unconstitutional.” As for supporting the so-called Ryan bill …

We’re seeing 19 percent fewer “move-ins,” compared with 2006. Jennifer Bissell’s PiPress story says: “Fewer people are moving to Minnesota from out of state, according to new census data released today. Since 2006, the flow of newcomers has declined 19 percent. ‘People have been unwilling to pick up and move,’ Metropolitan Council research manager Libby Starling said. They’re concerned about selling their home and skeptical that the grass is greener in another place, she said. Robust population growth can spur new construction and retail sales, boosting the state’s economy. But in order to gain residents from elsewhere, a state needs a booming economy with good prospects of employment. Minnesota’s unemployment rate sits at 7.2 percent, compared with the national average of 9.1 percent. The Twin Cities’ unemployment rate is not recovering as fast as it had been … Nationally, Minnesota saw the 15th-largest decline in new residents from out of state from 2006 to 2010, according to data released today from the American Community Survey. All but six states saw a decline.” You can only imagine the migration if the economy ever recovers.

As a philistine, I can’t tell you for certain what a concertmaster does, but the Minnesota Orchestra has a new one. Euan Kerr’s MPR story says: “The Minnesota Orchestra today announced violinist Erin Keefe will be its new concertmaster. Keefe succeeds Jorja Fleezanis, who departed the Orchestra in 2009. Keefe is an accomplished chamber musician, who most recently was a member of the the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Featured on Live from Lincoln Center three times with the Society, she has performed regularly with both the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society and Boston Chamber Music Society.”

The usual partisan “factiness” over the so-called “Buffett rule” — mega-millionaires paying a lower rate of taxes than their employees — got a good airing on MPR’s “Midday,” with guest Joe Rosenberg of the Tax Policy Institute. As you might imagine, there’s more nuance to the issue than will ever fit on a bumper sticker or a talk radio show.

BWCA fire update: Wet weather = progress. Stephanie Hemphill, also at MPR, writes: “Firefighters on the Pagami Creek fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are slogging through another wet, chilly day. They’ve made a lot of progress on the western edge of the fire. Incident Command spokesman Doug Anderson said two crews are combining on that side, which releases firefighters for the more problematic north side.”

Wonkette, the deliciously snarky DC blog, notes that T-Paw is heading off to be an election observer in Tunisia. Kirsten Boyd Johnson writes: “Anonymous human entity ‘Tim Pawlenty’ has not had very much luck getting a nation of 300 million people to recognize his existence and much less his stuttering, abortive campaign for American President, so he told reporters he will try his hand somewhere a little easier: ‘I wish I were still in the race, but now I’m going off to Tunisia instead.’ WOAH, Tim Pawlenty, do you even speak, uh, African? … you do not have to actually exile yourself just for your humiliating loss to insane person Michele Bachmann in the Iowa straw poll, although we can’t say we blame you. That’s a tough one to live down.”