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U of M alums send letter demanding Kaler resignation

Plus: Most Minnesotans don’t want copper mining; more on the Barway Collins case; Senate office building on time and on budget; and more.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler
MinnPost file photo by John Noltner

The momentum here is not good for the U of M’s administration. Over at retired U of M prof Bill Gleason’s blog, there’s a copy of a letter a group of U grads now in various fields have sent to the state Legislature: “As alumni of the University of Minnesota and teachers and scholars of medical ethics, we are writing to call on the legislature to open hearings into the University’s mishandling of the extensive problems in its Psychiatry Department and to seek the resignations of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and other senior officials involved in covering up that scandal. … Mr. Kaler’s claim that he was previously unaware of these problems – including as recently as last month – leaves only two possibilities: either he is not being truthful, or he is far too oblivious to be entrusted to lead the state’s flagship university. In either case, for Mr. Kaler to claim ignorance at this point is an insult to the legislature as well as to the people of Minnesota. Mr. Kaler’s leadership has failed on every level.” Ouch.

Shocker. Those polled don’t approve of “sulfide mining.” In the Duluth News Tribune, John Myers reports, “A poll commissioned by a coalition of environmental groups appears to show that Minnesotans don’t mind longstanding iron ore mining in the state but don’t necessarily support proposed copper mining. The poll, paid for by member groups of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and released Monday, found that 28 percent of those surveyed oppose proposed ‘sulfide’ mining for copper while 26 percent support it and nearly half, 46 percent, said they don’t have an opinion.”

“More than one” attacked and killed the 90 year-old man. Stribber Taylor Nachtigal says, “More than one person was involved in the death of a 90-year-old man whose body was found over the weekend in his ransacked rural Carver County home, authorities said Tuesday. … ‘This was a heinous and senseless crime’, Sheriff Jim Olson said at an afternoon news conference, adding that authorities are asking the public for any information that might help them identify and find suspects.”

Who wants to ride at 10 mph after laying out $400 for a set of gaudy spandex bike gear? Steve Brandt of the Strib says, “The 10 mph speed limit for bike paths in Minneapolis parks may soon be gone under a proposal that park commissioners will consider Wednesday. Path bikers would be required to ride at a ‘reasonable and prudent’ limit given the conditions and hazards.”

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So terrible. Marino Eccher of the PiPress, reporting on the latest in the Barway Collins case: “Unemployed, saddled with debt and holding two life insurance policies on his son Barway, Pierre Collins made two trips to the Mississippi River the day the boy went missing, prosecutors say. Four weeks later, the 10-year-old’s body was found near the spot his father had visited, his feet bound with duct tape. … Collins was out of a job at the time and had ‘considerable financial obligations,’ the charges said. He had two life insurance policies on Barway, according to court documents. One was for $20,000, and covered Collins and his other children as well. The other was for $30,000.”

For MPR, Tim Nelson and Riham Feshir say, “‘We think it’s a strong circumstantial case,’ Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at an afternoon press conference unveiling the charges. ‘We believe the father took him to the river and dumped him in a waste water cistern,’ where the body remained underwater for 24 days, Freeman said. Authorities said the boy was found with his feet and torso bound with duct tape. It’s still not clear yet how he died.”

For City Pages, Ben Johnson writes, “According to the charges, this is how [father Pierre Collins’] day went on March 18: Pierre tells his wife Yamah he’s going to work (Pierre lied, he was unemployed) in the morning, but instead travels to the downtown Minneapolis courthouse for a child support hearing. At 9:06 a.m. he leaves court and heads north on I-94. He spends about 20 minutes — from 9:10 until 9:29 — moving up and down the area of the Mississippi riverfront where Barway was eventually found. At 12:04 p.m. he’s in the Aldi in Crystal and by 1:39 he’s back at his apartment. At 4:25, eight minutes after Barway exits his school’s transportation van, Pierre leaves his apartment. By 4:42 Pierre’s phone is back in the same area of the riverfront he explored earlier that morning, near the intersection of Lyndale and 55th Avenue North.”

Who has more cash? The state or Bill McGuire? Eric Roper of the Strib says, “Backers of a professional soccer stadium who made their first appearance at the Capitol on Tuesday to press for a comparatively small taxpayer subsidy were met with stiff and bipartisan skepticism among legislative leaders. Dr. Bill McGuire, who owns the Minnesota United FC, said the group is seeking a property tax exemption and a sales tax break on construction materials for the new stadium … . Despite the tax exemptions — which could amount to $3 million in the case of the sales taxes — McGuire characterized the deal as having ‘no public subsidy whatsoever.’” To some folks $3 million is nothing whatsoever.

What was once a campaign issue is now on time and budget. Bill Salisbury of the PiPress says, “Come Jan. 1, visitors to the new Minnesota Senate Office Building will look through a three-story glass-and-stone facade at what a construction superintendent called ‘one gorgeous view’ of the white marble Capitol across University Avenue. Nearly half completed, the four-story building is on time and on budget, Greg Huber, senior project manager for Mortenson Construction, said during a tour of the project Tuesday. Construction started Aug. 6; all the concrete has been poured, the structural steel is up and the 200-member crew is erecting the interior framing, Huber said. They will start mounting pre-cast exterior walls by May 1 and install the windows by the end of July.”

But, before we get too carried away, Kyle Potter at the AP says, “Construction of a new office building for Minnesota senators is moving along but the politics surrounding it remain messy as Democrats and Republicans girded again this week over the project’s $90 million price tag and how to pay for it. … But the Republicans who control the House didn’t put any money for the building in their own state government budget bill, leading Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk to issue a warning about the risks of not paying off the bonds sold to cover construction costs.”

Naturally the, dare I say, “silly” rule forbidding eye contact in the Minnesota Senate has made it into the wheelhouse of national pundits. Scott Kaufman at Salon writes, “Democrats also upheld a ban on drinking water while on the Senate floor, citing the historic nature of the desks at which the senators sit. Republican Torrey Westrom tried to include a provision for pregnant or nursing mothers, but the Senate still voted down the bill by a 10-51 margin. Members of the Minnesota House took to Twitter to mock their upper house colleagues. Representative Mike Freiberg, who like Senate Majority Leader Bakk is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, wrote: ‘Other Senate rules: use secret handshake, speak in iambic pentameter, drag Stone of Shame if you violate a rule.’”