Monday, February 19, 2018

Money in professional sports - a question of priorities

Below is a copy of a letter that was sent to the Star Tribune but not published. The central issue of shining the light on the enormous sums of money we pour into professional sports and the wealthy owners is vital because it drains public monies from more essential services. We truly need some leadership on the issue of priorities.

To the Editor:

Nancy Jost’s column on the high costs of daycare (Star Tribune, February 2) at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere raises valid questions and warrants full public attention. As background, I authored the state’s first daycare law and am familiar with the costs involved. However, it is more about priorities than money.

For instance, the University of Minnesota pours millions of dollars into revenue sports coaches’ salaries and other excesses but yet pleads poverty when it comes to funding $500,000 for day care. Likewise we cut school budgets while subsidizing wealthy pro sports team owners with millions each year. How about full disclosure of all these costs and truly engage the public?

Arne H. Carlson
Governor Minnesota (1991-1999)
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Another Minnesota Treasure…Sally Pillsbury

For decades we celebrated the delightful energy of “Holly Dolly” not always recognizing that we had one here in Minnesota:  Sally Pillsbury. With enthusiasm and dogged determination she pushed aside the impossible and made it a reality. To her “No” was simply a longer path to “yes”. She even led the Women’s Movement before there was one.

With her position and financial well being she could easily have cloaked herself in respectable silence and enjoyed her status.

But Sally came out of the Theodore Roosevelt school of involvement and decided to build a better Minnesota for all. With her husband, George, and her brother, Wheelock Whitney, they evolved into what may likely be the most influential trio in Minnesota history. From the 1950’s on, there was rarely a positive development that did not have their fingerprints on it. The University of Minnesota, the Symphony Orchestra, the attraction of professional sports, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, funding of the arts, and on and on all are testaments to the involvement of this extraordinary partnership.

Barely 30 years old, Sally immersed herself in the Eisenhower movement and from there on helped shape and develop the moderate wing of the Republican Party. Elmer L. Andersen, Doug Head, Bill Frenzel, Dave Durenberger, Al Quie and a multitude of other Republican leaders all were benefactors of Sally’s involvement.

I can say without hesitation that there never would have been a Carlson administration without the constant and committed leadership of Wheelock, Sally, George, Lars (my brother) and my wife Susan.

So potent was this force of moderate Republicanism that it produced majority control of the Minneapolis City Council. But they also remained active on the national scene starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 all the way through President George H.W. Bush, who was also a personal friend of the Pillsbury’s and Wheelock Whitney.


But this is not about past accomplishments. Rather it represents hope: a very strong hope that all of us will get into the arena, take on controversy and do all we can to preserve and enhance democracy. If we admire Sally, George and Wheelock there is no greater tribute than to continue their willingness to always be involved for the greater good.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

True Grit…the Gophers have it.

As fans, we celebrate the big wins and moan the losses. But this season we are learning the vital importance of resilience and the simple refusal to quit. Maybe we should call it grit.

Saturday’s Gopher men’s basketball game at Michigan was a study in true grit. Without a center and lacking reserve strength, the Gophers took the home team into over time with the game only settled in the final three seconds. Rest assured, not one Michigan fan walked out not thanking their lucky stars.

What I saw was excellent coaching featuring a variety of different rotations and styles that kept Michigan off guard and the defense was excellent.

But I also saw an offense that moved the ball swiftly, found the relatively open man and committed few turnovers.

If I were a recruit or looking for a great place to play next fall, it would be with the Gophers and my favorite arena – the Barn. Pitino has superbly brought his young talent around and they are emerging as solid big time players. Washington, from my childhood area of the Bronx, Harris, Hurt, and Fitzgerald are proving their potential but also showing that they have the character to win. And Mason, the departing senior, is not only the top player but also as good a floor leader as there is in basketball.

As one who was skeptical of the selection of Richard Pitino as coach, I am now a full convert. When the going got tough, he showed me he is ready to take on the big boys and win.

No, this team is my kind of team – playing unselfishly, playing smart and refusing to give up.


That is true grit – thanks guys.

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