Daily Digest: Sviggum, Netflix and the tale of two primaries

by Kyle Potter

Here’s your Daily Digest for Tuesday, Feb. 28:

Sviggum's conflict of interest inquiry nearing decision

Regent Steve Sviggum will meet Friday with the ad hoc committee taking up a potential conflict of interest with his dual roles.

Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen told MPR that the committee will recommend to the full board what action to take with Sviggum at its March meeting next week. Sviggum took a new gig as communications chief for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus in January, launching the second look into whether his dual roles create a conflict of interest in the past two years.

Cohen ordered two legal opinions – one from the University’s general counsel Mark Rotenberg, another from an outside attorney – on whether Sviggum’s new job is a conflict at February’s board meeting. One of those hasn’t come through yet, she said.

Sviggum told MPR he suspects Rotenberg does see a conflict of interest, but he’s bringing a third legal opinion to the meeting from another attorney who feels the opposite.

“I’ll take some time and look at the situation” if the board decides he can’t hold both jobs, Sviggum said. “I won’t let an outside person develop a conflict that doesn’t exist. I feel very strongly about that. I’m not considering … or am of the mind to resign on this.”

No more Starz for Netflix viewers

More than half of Netflix’s selection is made up of TV series, and that ratio will grow Wednesday when Starz pulls its offerings off the video streaming giant’s digital shelves.

From Toy Story 3 to Hellboy (these are on the same level quality-wise, right?), more than 1,000 movies and TV shows will disappear from Netflix’s 20,000-strong catalog as its contract with Starz expires.

Starz didn’t follow up on its five-year, $30 million contract with Netflix, it says, to preserve “the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content.”

Netflix says Starz’ new-release movies account for just 2 percent of its streaming, according to the New York Times. It was 10 percent a year ago.

Gizmodo has a list of what it considers the top movies and shows that will disappear from your queues tomorrow. I may have to watch Billy Madison tonight, just for old time’s sake.

Romney and Santorum square off twice

Arizona and Michigan host the latest round of Romney vs. Santorum in tonight’s primaries.

The stakes are undoubtedly higher in Michigan, where Mitt Romney was born and the state where his father, George W. Romney, served as governor for six years. Romney won soundly there in his 2008 presidential bid with 39 percent of the vote. U.S. Sen. John McCain, who went on to grab the nomination, had about 30 percent.

But it’s a tossup this time around. The polls look to be at the whim of a coin flip: One shows Romney is the favorite, and the next says former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has the edge.

Nate Silver, who runs The New York Times’ Five Thirty Eight blog, hypothesized what a Romney loss could mean for his camp.

“If Mr. Romney loses, you’ll begin to hear questions asked, like why Mr. Romney has had trouble closing out victories, whether his organizational strengths are overrated and whether voters are souring on Mr. Romney as they get to know him better."

Silver assembles handfuls of polls and weights them based on reliability to put together these projections for each primary. He gives Romney a 55 percent chance of winning in Michigan – Santorum has the other 45 percent. But, as Silver notes, it's too close to call.

Five Thirty Eight projects Romney will win in Arizona with about 43 percent of the vote – Santorum has a 1 percent chance at an upset.