Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


After latest revelation, archdiocese promises to release names … with conditions

MPR’s case for award consideration is strengthened anew by today’s report on the archdiocese’s handling of one Father Clarence Vavra. Madeleine Baran, Tom Scheck and Sasha Aslanian report: “One night on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota nearly four decades ago, a 36-year-old Roman Catholic priest asked a young boy to share his bed. The boy was about 9 or 10 years old. As he climbed into bed, he asked the priest a question: Are you going to molest me, like my relative does when he asks me to spend the night? The answer was yes. What happened that night remained secret. The priest, the Rev. Clarence Vavra, stayed in ministry and served in 16 parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before retiring in 2003. He’s never been publicly identified as an abuser. There are no records of any police reports or lawsuits. No victims have come forward. Vavra admitted in a May 1995 psychological evaluation that he had attempted to anally rape the South Dakota boy. The report was stored in the vicar general’s filing cabinet at the chancery.”

Very quickly, Tony Kennedy of the Strib has a story up with Archbishop John Nienstedt promising to release names of abusive priests. Except, as Kennedy writes: “Nienstedt said the Archdiocese will disclose ‘the names, locations and status of priests who are currently living in the Archdiocese, and who we know have substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors’. … the statement said the disclosures will be restricted to priests living in the archdiocese who have substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors — and then only with permission of the ‘relevant court.’ [Attorney Jeff] Anderson said those limitations will protect the archdiocese from having to reveal the names of dead priests who committed sex crimes against children in recent decades, past offenders who are now living outside the archdiocese, sexual offenders who have been removed from the priesthood and any priest who has been accused of sexual manipulation of adults, including vulnerable adults.”

Meanwhile, some immigration reform news, paired with Veterans Day. Jim Adams of the Strib says: “On the eve of Veterans Day, Klobuchar pushed for passage of an immigration bill, including the so-called DREAM Act, short for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. … Klobuchar said the immigration reform bill ‘would bring 11 million people out of the shadows so they can get an education and serve.’ She said after the news conference that the continuing budget debate talks in the wake of the government shutdown last month could encourage passage of the bill that she said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated would save $158 million in the next 10 years.”

Looking for government work? Consider Rochester. Edie Grossfield of the Post-Bulletin says: “Rochester and Olmsted County government staff are among the highest paid local government employees in Minnesota, according to annual public salary notices that cities and counties with more than 15,000 people are required to make. Within the 126 cities and counties mandated by state law to report their three highest paid employees, City Administrator Steve Kvenvold and Rochester Public Utilities General Manager Larry Koshire are the two highest paid city employees. They each have base annual salaries of $165,780. The next highest paid city employee is St. Louis Park’s city manager, who makes $160,639, followed by Rochester Director of Public Works Richard Freese, who makes $158,452.”

The GleanDirectly related … Brian Bakst of the AP writes: “Salaries of the top-paid employees in Minnesota city and county government have risen sharply since the state peeled back a restriction that made it rare for local personnel to earn more than the governor. An analysis of salary data by The Associated Press found scores of local officials — city managers, police chiefs, parks directors, county health agents among them — now drawing bigger paychecks than the governor. In some cases, pay for the same position shot up more than $40,000 in about eight years. The trend could factor into upcoming state salary decisions. A study of competitiveness of state executive branch pay is underway and could result in raises as soon as next year.”

At Midwest Energy News, Dan Haugen follows the squabbles over “solar gardens”: “As customers begin putting money down to join one of Minnesota’s first community solar gardens, new comments to state regulators reveal significant disagreements about how the program should work. … Xcel unveiled its plan for the program on Sept. 30, and last week solar developers responded with several objections over proposed fees, rates and restrictions the utility would place on the projects. MN Community Solar started accepting deposits a few weeks ago for a 40-kilowatt solar garden to be built on the roof of a south Minneapolis warehouse. But it expects it will have to refund that money if major changes aren’t made to Xcel’s proposal. … Others criticizing parts of the utility’s plan include SunEdison, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association (MnSEIA), and Fresh Energy (where Midwest Energy News is based).”

WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy was not impressed with Ranked Choice Voting: “One: It was confusing. Two: It took far longer to count the ballots than supporters said it would. Three: It was a fix for a system that wasn’t broken. … What will be the final cost of the overtime and the special Florida consultants who were brought in to oversee the extravaganza? … Ranked-choice supporters say their system eliminates negative campaigning. And it does. Candidates can not afford to alienate another candidates’ backers because they need those second place votes. But I would argue the result is a false positive, the impression that the candidates are all on the same or similar pages. Candidates withheld drawing sharp contrasts or critiques of one another that would have been helpful to voters. It was Minnesota Nice at its worst — a frozen veneer of civility, when in a ‘normal’ election the gloves would have been off.”

The Josmil Pinto era begins … Joe Mauer is now a first baseman. Phil Miller of the Strib says: “The eight-time All-Star will become a full-time first baseman in 2014, after a foul tip ended his 2013 season six weeks early. ‘After consultation with doctors from Mayo Clinic and team doctors, and given the inherent risks of future injury at the catcher position,’ the team said in a statement, ‘the organization and Joe determined that it would be in the best interest of both him and the Twins for a position change.’ … It also likely opens a spot in the lineup for Josmil Pinto, a 24-year-old Venezuelan who batted .342 in 21 games in September.”

City Pages’ Aaron Rupar reports: “Seema Desai claims the Minneapolis department tasked with making sure employers treat workers fairly fails on that very score when it comes to its own employees. Desai, a 33-year-old former complaint investigation officer for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, recently filed a complaint against the city alleging that the way her bosses treated her violated the Minnesota Whistleblowers Act. She says she was forced to work overtime without pay, discouraged from raising concerns about her treatment with her union, and was singled out for harassment after she ignored bosses’ admonitions and reported her concerns to the city’s human resources department. … Things came to a head this summer after Desai reported her alleged mistreatment to the city’s human resources department. The complaint details what happened from there.” If accurate … very classy.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 11/11/2013 - 02:13 pm.


    “It was Minnesota Nice at its worst — a frozen veneer of civility, when in a ‘normal’ election the gloves would have been off.””

    This comment is an eye-opener for me. I supported RCV on the notion that the winner would have the majority of the votes and no votes would be “wasted”. How naive I was!

    We need the gloves off!

  2. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 11/11/2013 - 02:23 pm.

    Esme Murphy

    Is Esme Murphy a lot stupider than the average person in Minneapolis? Because nobody I know found RCV confusing at all. As for the time required to count the ballots, we all went to bed fairly certain that Hodges had won, so what’s the big deal on waiting a day or two to confirm? Besides, next time we’ll have the counting software certified and this won’t be an issue.

    As far as the candidates being too polite… I guess it’s no surprise that someone in TV news would prefer a bunch of overly aggressive, exaggerated claims about the other guy. “Candidates shake hands, smile and discuss issues” just doesn’t get the ratings, eh?

  3. Submitted by Charles Thompson on 11/11/2013 - 02:49 pm.

    RCV discourages negative ads which drop to WCCO’s bottom line. Esme is talking her book. Elections turning a bit civil and rejoining our day to day reality doesnt seem like a tragedy.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/11/2013 - 03:19 pm.

    Is Esme right?

    I hate to admit it, but she may be on to something about the lack of negative campaigning.

    Negative campaigning is one of those things that depends on whose ox is being gored. It can be the ghost of Lee Atwater, blowing dog whistles and spreading half truths. At the same time, a candidate who doesn’t like his record being aired in public might start hollering “negative campaigning” to foreclose discussion (Brian Sullivan did this in an MPR forum, when one of the other Republicans running asked how he could square his conservative principles with campaign donations to help get access to congressional Democrats).

    I may not want to talk about something, but that doesn’t mean the public shouldn’t know about it. Is it negative to say a candidate for mayor voted for the Vikings stadium, despite the language of the City Charter and despite it being one of the worst ideas the city has had yet? Or is it appropriate to expect a candidate to explain himself?

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/11/2013 - 03:57 pm.

    RCV &c.

    Ms. Murphy has a point… sort of. As do the first 3 commenters. Confusion didn’t seem evident at my polling place, and I had no problem with the process myself, so, as has been suggested by others, maybe this is just Ms. Murphy hoping to boost the WCCO bottom line. If so, it speaks to her ethics, not the election process.

    That said, and while I didn’t find the process confusing, nor was the delay in counting especially bothersome. I could live without it and go back to the previous method, but in truth, I kind of enjoyed an election season not filled with negative (largely false) political advertising. She may not like that (for TV revenue reasons) but many of the rest of us don’t mind a bit.

    Glad to see some humanity (not to mention common sense) infiltrate discussions between Mr. Mauer and the Twins. A contract for a LOT of money is involved here, and it would be counterproductive for either party to insist that Mauer put on the “tools of ignorance” and play catcher again.

    And the level(s) of corruption of the archbishopric continue to surprise, though not in a good way.

  6. Submitted by Judy Jones on 11/11/2013 - 03:57 pm.

    Another secret uncovered…

    It takes a lot of courage to speak up about being sexually abused. This is not an easy thing to do, but let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr.Clarence Vavra, will come forward and contact police, not the church officials. They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.
    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day
    Silence is not an options anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511.,
    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/11/2013 - 08:50 pm.

      It would seem like the relative

      Should be easy to find and prosecute for the multiple offenses. Who will look into that?

  7. Submitted by Pat McGee on 11/11/2013 - 04:16 pm.

    Highest paid government employees

    The pay for the top 3 or 4 in any jurisdiction says nothing about the pay for the rank and file. Any more than the pay for a CEO says anything about the pay for the average worker. Shame on Minnpost for implying that top salaries have anything to do with anyone else’s wages.

  8. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 11/11/2013 - 04:36 pm.

    Does anyone care what Esme Murphy thinks ?

    Or how easily confused she is ? Brian: why bother to highlight the words of an airhead ?

    At my polling place, I stood in line while dozens of people, ballot in hand, were asked if they had any questions about RCV – and ALL gave a quick shake of the head on their way to a voting station. Poor Esme.

    But the real tipoff on Esme’s motivation is a fallacious talking-point line from the implacable opponents: “It was a fix for a system that wasn’t broken.”

    The people who regarded the former system as so wonderful are people who SOMEHOW didn’t notice that the City Council produced by the legacy system disenfranchised its own citizens on the Stadium vote, and didn’t notice how it had become near impossible for anyone except the duopoly’s candidates to vie for office.

    This system was utterly, completely broken – EXCEPT FOR those dedicated to the 2 party system, those who always voted in primaries so their votes outweighed everyone else, the political professional class and their economic allies (such as WCCO, a beneficiary of the ads the consultants recommend).

    So there is a very serious divide here between those whose interests were served by the previous voting system and those who were NOT served by it, and were open to the current RCV system. In my view, the old system consistently brought us a really bad local government, and to hear someone say it wasn’t broken seems to indicate non compos mentis.

Leave a Reply