Winona Daily News has a smelly fish bone to pick with Rochester
The Winona Daily News last week ran an editorial titled "Rochester's LGA funding smells fishy." The editorial argued, I think, that Rochester is receiving special treatment from the GOP-led Legislature on the local government aid issue because Rochester is a politically strategic city that is represented by both Democrats and Republicans. In other words, it's "in play."
So, while the GOP is proposing to eliminate all LGA for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, Rochester gets to keep its share.
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth are represented almost exclusively by Democrats. Thus, it appears the Republican leadership, the newspaper maintains, is punishing those urban DFL strongholds by proposing to strip them of LGA.
"There's some method to the Legislature's madness," the Daily News editorial reads. "Property values and sheer population density mean that metro areas can fend for themselves better than more rural regions... Yet, it's also not hard to figure that many of the urban and suburban legislators aren't a member of the political party in power.
"Nowhere is this more evident than in Rochester, where Republicans want to keep hold of their political lock.
"Instead of pulling LGA funding from the four 'first class' Minnesota cities, the GOP leadership in the Legislature decided to give Rochester an exception."
The writer of the editorial has a point. It doesn't seem fair to eliminate local government aid for the state's first, second and fourth largest cities, but make an exception for its third largest city. That does, indeed, smack of political game playing, and my guess is that when all is said and done, at least some LGA will be made available to Duluth, if not St. Paul and Minneapolis.
But the part of the editorial I take issue with concerns an older, much more tired issue — whether Rochester deserves a full-fledged university when it already has a perfectly good community college and a branch of Winona State University.
Winona has little skin in this game. The GOP proposal doesn't cut aid to Winona, or any other rural community. So, on the surface, it's unclear why the editorial was even written. It appears to me that the entire piece was a setup for this:
"The Republicans' maneuvering is the same kind of pandering that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty practiced when he gave a State of the State Address there, and then established another hungry mouth to feed by creating a University of Minnesota campus, despite two other state university campuses being there.
"The GOP has taken a tough budget decision and turned it political. The GOP just can't seem to quit Rochester's allure. But it does so at the literal expense of the taxpayer and other Minnesota cities."
So there, dear readers, you have it. Winona, or at least the Daily News, is still bitter that Rochester, after decades of lobbying by both Democrats and Republicans, finally got its four-year university, possibly deflecting some students and funding from Winona State. That, it seems, was the real reason for the anti-Rochester editorial.
Please. UMR is a done deal, and it's growing. There's no reason to believe that Winona State and UMR can't thrive independently of one another.