Our View: Return Simmons to U of M Board of Regents

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Patricia Simmons' decision to run for re-election to University of Minnesota Board of Regents is a welcome development in an ongoing story of unexpected twists.

The retired Mayo Clinic pediatrician decided to run again after Dr. Claire Bender, a finalist to succeed her for the 1st Congressional District seat on the board, withdrew from consideration, citing personal reasons. Simmons originally planned to step down after two terms but said she "felt a responsibility" to run after Bender, another retired Mayo physician, announced her decision.

We're glad she did. Simmons has served the board of regents well during her two terms on the board, which is the governing body of the University of Minnesota and its five campuses, including the University of Minnesota Rochester. With five open seats on the 11-member board, Simmons' experience will provide much-needed continuity.

Members of the House and Senate higher education committees have recommend both Simmons and Worthington resident Randy Simonson, the chief executive officer of Grazix Animal Health, for the 1st District seat. Simonson is another impressive candidate who told lawmakers he believes it's important the university not just focus on medical research but also agricultural research.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, chairman of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, said Simmons is uniquely qualified because of her connections to Mayo Clinic, the city of Rochester and the University of Minnesota Rochester.


We agree with Brede and encourage the Legislature to return Simmons to the Board of Regents.


High court right for putting public safety first

Unless you're planning to hold it indefinitely, your breath isn't really private property.

The Minnesota Supreme Court backed that argument Wednesday by upholding a state law making it illegal for suspected drunken drivers to refuse a breath test. The ruling rejected a man's claim the state law prevented him from refusing an unconstitutional search.

While a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision said police must typically attempt to obtain a search warrant before ordering blood tests for drunken-driving suspects, the majority of Minnesota's high court agreed the chemical test to analyze the suspect's breath is different. Chief Justice Lori Gildea said in the court opinion the test was "no more intrusive than the myriad of other searches of the body that we and other courts have upheld as searches incident to a valid arrest."

With public safety at stake, the argument makes sense. While we understand why the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has voiced concern about the potential of extending the ruling to other crimes and other searches, we can't accept giving drunken drivers a pass simply because they know putting off a test will destroy evidence of their wrong-doing.

In order to be effective at catching drunken drivers, breath tests need to be administered as soon as possible. Waiting for a judge's approval in the middle of the night would let too many potentially dangerous drivers off the hook.


The slippery-slope argument in this case simply fails to gain traction, and if any future drunken drivers are hoping it eventually sticks, they better start holding their breath.


Youth hockey scores with Channel One option

Most of us have felt obligated to buy something for a youth fundraiser, whether it's for school, church or athletics. Even if the young person is selling products we normally wouldn't have purchased, we opened our wallets because we knew it was going to a good cause.

Now, your donation can benefit another worthy organization. For the past three years, the Rochester Youth Hockey Association has given its supporters the option of designating their donations to Channel One Regional Food Bank. It's a win-win-win scenario for the youth, anyone who buys the pizzas and especially for the families who get groceries at Channel One.

Every season, youth hockey families sign an agreement to participate in its annual fundraiser, promising to sell $200 in frozen pizza or opting for a $150 cash buyout. Three years ago, Janelle Nielsen, the pizza sales coordinator for RYHA, introduced the option of buying $200 in pizza and donating it directly to Channel One. Fundraising leaders for other youth organizations should take note of the inspiring idea.

The hockey fundraising innovation has taken off. Earlier this week, more than 2,700 pizzas, as well as hundreds of pounds of pizza dippers and cookie dough, were delivered to Channel One office in southeast Rochester.

The next time a youth hockey player rings your doorbell, you can give generously, knowing your donation is going to someone who needs it.

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