The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 4, 2013

Our View: Holiday Lights lit up the winter

— Thumbs up

To the organizers and volunteers who made the Kiwanis Holiday Lights display happen. The new holiday attraction lit up Sibley Park and the faces of its visitors from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve.

The display was a giant undertaking as proven by these numbers: more than 100,000 people viewed the display that featured 1 million LED lights; more than 30,000 vehicles motored through the park; more than 1,000 volunteers offered assistance; more than 12 tons of food were donated to area food shelves; and at least three marriages were proposed before the display.

The response to the attraction was immense and the region is lucky that the plan is to do the display next year with additional features.

Not only did the project bring holiday cheer to those who saw it, but it was a community effort that brought a lot of people and nonprofits together to get a big job done. The charitable giving part of the project is an important one during a time of year when food shelves are in great demand.

Thumbs down

U of M fails Fiscal Management 101

To the University of Minnesota’s rapid salary and spending run-up at a time students are getting hit harder for tuition costs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U of M’s administrative payroll has gone up three times as fast as the teaching payroll and twice as fast as student enrollment.

Some 81 administrators make $200,000 per year or more. And the university has spent $10 million in recent years on consultants for a housing development that is decades from completion.

In the meantime, tuition has more than doubled in that same period, to more than $13,000 per year.

The bloating of administrative ranks and excessive spending is not isolated to the U of M and is fueled by a lack of accountability and the fact taxpayers fund grants going to students allowing for escalating tuition charges.

 As state and federal budgets continue to contract and many private businesses are forced to cut back, public universities need more self-control and more public and government scrutiny and oversight.

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