Legislature misses deadline; Ventura to name regents

Melinda Rogers

Five months after the original deadline, Gov. Jesse Ventura will take the reigns of the regent selection process from the Legislature to appoint new members to the University’s Board of Regents.

“It’s going to happen, it’s just going to take awhile,” said John Wodele, the governor’s spokesman.

“The governor will be briefed about the process, but it will be at least a month before we make appointments,” he said.

Although a concrete date hasn’t been set, Monday marks the first time the governor has committed to making the appointments.

Minnesota statute allows him to select regents if the Legislature fails to do so by May, but Ventura decided to wait until the special session’s completion, in case legislators re-convened for regent approval.

“The special session has backed everything up,” Wodele said.

Selection was originally slated for completion by Feb. 20, but reached a stalemate after House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, refused a joint convention of the Senate and House to make a decision on regent appointment.

Sviggum’s decision came in response to the plan of Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, to replace Richard “Pinky” McNamara – one of five committee-approved candidates – with Warren Larson, a current regent.

Ray Waldron, a committee-approved candidate along with McNamara, Patricia Spence, Michael O’Keefe and Angela Bos, said the selection process was politicized from the beginning.

“It’s all politics, strictly politics,” Waldron, treasurer of Minnesota AFL-CIO, said.

“A Republican told me he couldn’t endorse me … labor is not a welcome product (on the Board of Regents). We’re a nuisance, we speak for working people, and they don’t like that,” he added.

Waldron said it’s been frustrating not knowing whether or not he’ll be a regent but said he’ll play the waiting game like everyone else.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, so why worry?” he said.

Despite delays in appointments of new members, board Chairwoman Maureen Reed said regents are conducting business as usual.

Reed has said, “The board seeks its new members at the time they’re elected,” and added current board members will continue to serve their terms until a final decision on new regents is made.

Every two years one-third of the Board of Regents positions are open for appointment. This year’s openings include one at-large student position, two at-large spots and one 5th Congressional District seat.

 

Melinda Rogers covers the Board of Regents and welcomes comments at [email protected]