From the many articles in Thursday’s paper regarding the hiring of a new University of Minnesota athletic director, the old boys’ club is alive and kicking. It is also clear no amount of money is too much to spend on the program. Buyouts, private jets — the court of public opinion got a previous U president fired for spending $42,000 on a desk. What will it say and do about $500,000 to buy out the contract of a guy who left his job after 10 months? New athletic director Mark Coyle has said he would not have left Syracuse for any other job. Supporters of the U’s athletic programs have heard that before (Lou Holtz and Notre Dame). Is there another rung on his career ladder? If I were still a student at the U, I would be very distressed at the blatant waste of funds, but as a ticket-paying fan for more than 40 years, I am appalled. All the boys — University President Eric Kaler and Star Tribune writers Jim Souhan, Chip Scoggins, etc. — agreed that interim AD Beth Goetz did great job, but did she really get a fair look? Not likely!
Linda Ruth Beauvais, St. Paul
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Am I the only one dismayed to read Coyle’s remark that one of the perks of his former position as director of marketing was Goldy Gopher’s presence at his 3-year-old daughter’s birthday party? (“New Gophers AD comes home to many challenges,” May 12.) Isn’t this just one more instance of U athletic officials being tone-deaf? One has only to ask: Does every 3-year-old celebrating a birthday have favored access to Goldy Gopher’s presence?
Though seemingly innocent, isn’t this the same sense of privilege and entitlement where the much larger indiscretions of former athletic director Norwood Teague, current men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino and others perhaps began? Please tell me that my too-sensitive brain has been overly saturated with the many recent headlines about university officials at all levels using poor judgment.
Judith Monson, St. Paul
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The $850,000 annual salary of the new Gophers athletic director is more than seven times that of the governor of Minnesota. Maybe that’s the first place the University of Minnesota (and college athletics in general) needed to look at to reform their athletic department(s).
Wayne Martin, Plymouth
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How enlightening to learn that the university coaches are entitled to travel by private jet (“Pitino’s jet use $175K over budget,” May 11). Any corporate manager has to make do with commercial air travel, mostly in economy class. Every day I learn something new about the University of Minnesota that staggers me. Where is the urgency for Pitino to go anywhere?
Joseph E. Bilski, St. Paul
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The best solution to the U basketball money drain is: Fire the well-educated university president, Kaler, along with Pitino. Replace Pitino with an assistant middle-school basketball coach, and I’ll bet the program would do better.
The $175,000 overrun in jet rides is three times more than the average taxpayer makes in a year.
Jim Bilot, St. Paul
Whose icon? More like the plunder of white supremacy
It was an educational conference that brought me to the Thunderbird Hotel eulogized in James Lileks’ May 10 Variety article about the storied hotel (“An icon fades away, one piece at a time”). I was not warmed by my visit, but appalled. The kitsch Indian motifs decorating doors and windows that Lileks saw exciting the generic kids running the halls, I saw as culturally appropriated Native symbols and sacred patrimonial items, made items of curiosity for, and let’s be honest here, mostly white families. I saw them as items plundered from cultures still struggling under white supremacy, the brutal forces that marched people from their lands and nearly extinguished their languages. This “museum” of tomahawks, peace pipes, feathered headdresses and costumed Native bodies (not real, Lileks hopes) may have been thrills to affluent families tumbling exhausted out of station wagons, but I saw them as a pirate’s treasure.
Rodney Wallace, the man whose passion brought these items together and put them behind museum glass, enjoyed a privilege to plunder that reflects a time, not so long ago, when he could do so “without a trace of shame or doubt.” But that time is gone. The brutal legacy of that time is being confronted like I’ve never seen before, and no longer can we romanticize it. I will have no love lost for that icon of white supremacy. I still have one question left (and perhaps the rose tint of Lileks’ glasses prevents him from asking it): What was done with Wallace’s bounty?
Thomas E. Carlson, Minneapolis
Backers of ‘more than tweaks’ counter mayors’ counterpoint
Several metro-area mayors wrote in support of continued gubernatorial appointments to the Metropolitan Council, arguing against adopting the “Crockett-Terrell proposal” that adds elected officials to the council (“Counterpoint: ‘Tweaks’ are, in fact, the best model for Met Council,” May 9).
We offered the proposal as the most politically feasible improvement over the status quo (“Met Council needs more than tweaks,” April 28). The proposal reflects the structure of every other regional body across the country. It is also recommended by the Office of Legislative Auditor as a first step toward addressing the council’s credibility gap, thereby easing gridlock over transit.
Following the rejection of the council’s transportation plan by all five suburban counties in 2014, the proposal was picked up by legislators and has been adopted by local elected officials; 41 cities and four suburban counties have passed supporting resolutions.
The council’s structure, however, is not its only flaw. It is the only regional agency in the U.S. with authority over multiple infrastructure systems (e.g. wastewater, transit, housing and parks). When the council came into being in 1967, it had a modest planning mission that arguably worked with an appointed board of civic-minded citizens. But nonstop mission creep has since expanded its scope, all without amendments to its governance structure or power to levy taxes. Adding elected officials does nothing to change that troubling scope of authority.
That is why we favor breaking up the council, assigning its vital functions to regional or state agencies with appropriately matching governance and oversight structure.
Kim Crockett and Kevin Terrell
Crockett is vice president and senior policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. Terrell is a partner at Katana Consulting and StartReadingNow.org.
THE 2016 CAMPAIGN
We detect the smoke; we want to know more about the fire
So Donald Trump will not release his tax records. I think he should release them on the same day that Hillary Clinton releases the transcripts of her speeches to the Wall Street banks. When it comes to the presidential election, one is just as important as the other.
Bill Martin, Blaine
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Hillary Clinton, wife of President Bill Clinton. Can anyone argue with the fact that together and separately they’re hands-down the most investigated people in history? Hillary Clinton continues to be the target of endless accusations and rumors of corruption, yet despite decades of relentless investigation, the evidence remains elusive.
I can’t help wondering if this lack of evidence of malfeasance proves that she’s not guilty. Or maybe it proves that she’s a criminal genius smarter than all the Republicans put together. Hmmm.
Christopher Egan, Minneapolis