- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

The Free Press of Mankato, May 18

Legislature: Excuses won’t garner votes in election

Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have once again waited until the last minute to do the people’s business.

They should be cognizant of the messages they are sending.

While many an experienced legislator has said this is always the way it goes - wait until the last minute to get the work done - that’s not a reason, that’s an excuse.

We’re never sure why it has to be this way. Haven’t we been paying them since March to get the job done with a specific deadline? Whenever people know a deadline and miss it in the private or public workplace, a reprimand is in order.

Not at the Legislature. That’s because when it comes down to it, there is no boss.

One can argue the issues are complex, and the politics do not come together unless there is deadline pressure. Again, we doubt the assumptions.

From the day we enter kindergarten, we’re asked to meet deadlines, to get our work done, to turn in our homework. Why is the Legislature exempt?

Is deadline pressure an excuse for not talking earlier? Ironing out the details earlier?

The Legislature needs a manager.

It used to be party leaders would take these roles, but today they seem more interested in holding press conferences to see how much Twitter buzz they can create.

We could blame social media for creating this environment, but we point to leadership. Both parties need leaders to get the job done.

We all know the last-minute business means the public policy suffers. It’s half-baked, a Band-Aid, and voters are always told wait until next year and we’ll fix it.

What’s worse, transparency suffers. Facing deadline on a do-nothing scenario, legislative leaders resort to backroom deal-making with little time for public discussion or, even worse, vetting by the larger legislative membership, those who represent the people.

Any bravado at the end of a rushed legislative session hailing great deals can be likened to someone trying to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear. Voters know a sow’s ear when they see one.

___

St. Cloud Times, May 18

New AD needs to fix U of M athletics

The good news is the University of Minnesota appears to have made a solid hire for athletic director in Mark Coyle, formerly the Syracuse athletic director.

The early reviews on the 47-year-old Iowa native indicate he has the ability to stabilize troubled athletic programs.

Well, he has found a good place to stabilize.

Let’s start with the hapless men’s basketball program. The Gophers under head coach Richard Pitino last season racked up a laughable record of 2-16 in Big Ten and 8-23 overall.

Several of Pitino’s players have exhibited embarrassing and possibly criminal behavior. In addition, a university audit found Pitino had exceeded his limit on use of private aircraft. The expenditures were approved by Norwood Teague, the previous athletic director who resigned after sending inappropriate texts to top female university administrators.

Coyle will have to decide what to do with Pitino if he has another dismal season. If he does fire Pitino early, the university would be required to pay a big money buyout of his contract.

Speaking of money, there is the fundraising needed to get the $166 million to pay for the Athletes Village project. It is Minnesota’s latest salvo in the never-ending arms race in college athletics to build bigger facilities to attract top recruits.

So far, the university has raised $80 million of the $166 million cost. Construction has already begun. Coyle had better get ready to visit loads of potential donors with a convincing argument that the athletic department is in capable hands.

Another challenge facing Coyle is what to do about the men’s hockey program and the future of head coach Don Lucia.

Coyle will have to decide whether failing to make the NCAA hockey tournament last year and struggling against in-state teams, including St. Cloud State University, is enough to merit a coaching change. Lucia is in the final year of his contract.

While Coyle is the point man on the efforts to clean up the athletic department, the board of regents needs to provide careful oversight each step of the way. That oversight has to include final decisions on any contracts for highest-paid coaches in the major sports, including football.

Coyle will have to make sure all the student-athletes, coaches and staff realize that while there are good things happening at the U of M, the athletic department is under a microscope.

We hope he can stabilize the programs and give Minnesota something to be proud of.

___

Mesabi Daily News, May 16

A legislative honor well deserved

Sometimes the Legislature does something that is caring, compassionate, incredibly appropriate, just plain the right thing to do, and so understood by the entire body that it receives unanimous support.

So it goes with last week’s House decision to rename three state trials that physically connect under one name - the David Dill Memorial Trail.

The House measure groups the Arrowhead, Taconite and Tomahawk state trails under the name honoring former DFL Rep. Dill of Crane Lake.

It will certainly also be approved by the Senate.

Dill died from cancer and complications of diabetes last Aug. 8. He was 60.

Dill was the legislator that colleagues turned to for advice, background information, and leadership on outdoors issues.

He was an avid angler and hunter. And he was passionate about Minnesota’s snowmobile and ATV trail system. Thus, this recognition is certainly befitting.

David Dill is missed terribly by family - wife, Tucky, and son, Drake - and friends, including all fellow lawmakers in the Legislature.

How could anyone not like David Dill? He was a personable guy with a great sense of humor who helped put a lot of life’s annoyances in perspective.

He was firm in his beliefs, but he was not an ideologue.

And his easy-going and clear thinking views on issues is also missed in a Legislature that too often can get bogged down in acrimony and often just silly rancor.

Dill’s style in St. Paul was as refreshing as a sunny crisp autumnal day on an ATV trail, or a winter’s gentle snowy day that is pleasant to the senses during a snowmobile ride across a Norman Rockwell landscape in the woods.

That, too, is missed by all in St. Paul.

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