A fairly new Web site has got some people in the law enforcement community a tad upset. RateMyCop.com lists police officers and allows registered users to leave comments about them. The person who built the Web site says all of the information, which in some cases includes badge numbers and personal information, comes from public data.
Many departments in Minnesota -- I checked Woodbury, St. Paul, and Ada among others -- do not have any officers listed. Minneapolis has most listed but doesn't have many reviews and no personal data is listed.
The reviews can be entertaining. A sample:
This "officer" and her "partner" nearly killed me w/their brand new taser gun on 3/5/05. They state in their report that I was kicked out of Pizza Luce in downtown Mpls and that they had to restrain me after I was forced out. My boyfriend was a bouncer at Pizza Luce and was there when this happened. I look forward to seeing them both in court.
An all around good cop, very friendly to the GLBT community, a respected black man in a very white department.
Jim came to our block party and dished out punch. he is very nice and sweet and tender and i hear he has a masters degree.
He treated me like dirt.
This "officer" nearly killed me on 3/5/05 w/his brand new taser gun and I was doped up and restrained thanks to the EMTs of HCMC who allowed me to choke on my vomit before adopting any sense of urgency. He never filed a report but once the MPD received a letter from my lawyer a report conveniently fell from the sky. ALL LIES/I WILL FIGHT THIS.
It's not entirely clear what value the the Web site has other than entertainment. Aside from crooks, chances are its biggest group of visitors will be cops. But what is anyone supposed to do with the information. Unlike teachers or lawyers, you don't get to shop around for a cop.(3 Comments)
Posted at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2008
by Bob Collins
The Chronicle of Higher Education is out with a report today that says spending via earmarks -- some call it "pork" -- for higher education institutions has increased by 25 percent.
The report says the earmarks are given out as grants, often for research, even though the projects haven't been reviewed by "knowledgeable scientists."
Says the report:
The dirty little secret about earmarks for science is that while college officials occasionally fret about them in public, they chase them in private. At meetings of the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 research institutions, some presidents regularly complain that earmarks are squeezing out peer-reviewed awards -- "and then they go home and call up their congressman to ask for an earmark," said one president, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to be free to discuss the meetings.
Minnesota, however, is not a heavy hitter when it comes to "academic pork." That distinction -- at least regionally -- belongs to North Dakota, which ranks ninth in the country in the amount of grants. Wisconsin ranks 32nd, and Minnesota 44th.
North Dakota State University ranks sixth in the nation in receipts, and the University of North Dakota is eighth.
The Minnesota projects in the report:
|Bemidji State University||Health & Human Services||$238,755||A baccalaureate nurse-training program.|
|Bemidji State University||Education||$335,043||Equipment for an applied-research center for manufacturing.|
|College of St. Scholastica||HHS||$242,685||Rural-health technology demonstration project.|
|Metropolitan State University||Education||$478,492||Workforce Diversity Needs in Urban Nursing program.|
Minnesota State University at Mankato
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
|Energy||$492,000||Cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel research at Minnesota Center for Renewable Energy.|
|Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System Office||Education||$1,099,451||Rapid employment services for veterans.|
|University of Minnesota at Crookston||Agriculture||$372,375||Support of agricultural diversity in the Red River corridor.|
|University of Minnesota Duluth||Agriculture||$4,840,875 for 10 universities||Research new uses for forest resources through the Wood Utilization Research program.|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Energy||$787,200||Ecologically friendly design elements for the Bell Museum of Natural History|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Agriculture||$219,453||Uniform Farm Management Program at the Center for Farm Financial Management.|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||HHS||$283,951||Helath-care-related construction, renovation, and equipment.|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Defense||$2,400,000||Develop technologies for advanced hypersonic research.|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Transportation||$3,234,000||Transportation-research center|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Transportation||$808,500||Support for the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety.|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||HHS||$406,767||Facilities and equipment for the Hormel's Institute's cancer research.|
|Winona State University||Justice||$775,500||Training, technical assistance and publication at the National Child Protection Training Center.|
|Winona State University||Transportation||$87,521||Replace three at-grade highway railroad crossings adjacent to the campus.|
|Winona State University||Transportation||$554,400||Replace three at-grade highway railroad crossings adjacent to the campus.|
|Winona State University||Justice||$446,500||Teach investigators and prosecutors the science of interviewing children victimized by abuse.|
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Norm Coleman both have 13 projects, Rep. Tim Walz has seven, Rep. Jim Oberstar and Rep. Betty McCollum have 3 and Rep. Collin Peterson has two.
The tone of the report from the Center, of course, is negative. Are these worthwhile projects? Many of the people I'm calling today don't care for the term "earmarks," because -- like pork -- it has a negative connotation. They say the programs are valuable. I'm calling many of the recipients to get more information about what the money is used for and you can decide. Be sure to check back!
Bemidji State. $238,755- According to Gwen Verchota, who runs the nursing program, they're setting up a four-year degree program for nursing. The money will go to curriculum development and also for renovations to Memorial Hall, to create a clinic. It's hoped the program will help ease a nursing shortage, especially in rural areas where nurses have to know a broad spectrum of things, unlike, she says, cities where specialty teams are used for specific functions (like inserting an IV, for example).
MN State U at Mankato/Minn West Community and Technical College -- Two new energy fields are requiring trained employees: wind and ethanol. The $492,000 the two institutions are sharing have created a "first in the nation" training program for ethanol technicians (people to work in the ethanol plans) and wind energy technicians, according to Melinda Voss, at MnSCU. The first class graduated a year ago.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System $1.1 million. MnSCU is setting up a program to help veterans re-enter the workforce. According to a news release, the project "will provide specifically designed career and education services to military veterans, National Guard members and reservists, as well as enhancing veterans' employment success upon returning to their communities."
Winona State University - From the same release, the more than $1 million in several grants is being used "to create model undergraduate and graduate curricula and train front-line child protection professionals. The center also will teach investigators and prosecutors the science of interviewing children victimized by abuse. In its first year, the center has trained about 8,000 investigators and prosecutors in 18 states and provided technical assistance for more than 300 child protection cases around the country." A 2003 story on the effort is here, and a grant request synopsis is here.
Incidentally, the National Journal's CongressDaily reports (according to a reader) the House Oversight and Government Reform chairman, Henry Waxman, is investigating why the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awarded grants in fiscal year 2007 to programs (like the $500,000 to the World Golf Foundation) that were ranked lower than other competing interests.
Says the article:
Waxman said the situation was brought to light by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., a freshman who complained that a worthy applicant in his district was unfairly shut out of the grant-making process in FY07. An aide to Walz said his interest was piqued when OJJDP ignored a request to direct money to the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University, even though it ranked fourth out of more than 100 applicants in the agency's review. The center trains social workers, teachers, nurses, police officers and others to detect and respond to signs of child abuse. The funding was dropped when the OJJDP administrator made the final decisions. Walz and other Minnesota lawmakers successfully restored about $1.2 million for the center in the FY08 omnibus appropriations bill, including $446,000 funded through OJJDP.
Specially, the investigation is looking at OJJDP Administrator Robert Flores, who Waxman said decided to award grants to certain favored organizations regardless of how competitive bids ranked.
Bell Museum (U of M) - $787,200. While technically separate, the money is part of a $36 million drive to build a new museum on the St. Paul campus. Director Scott Lanyon says it will help pay for a variety of research and development on using energy "in an efficient way," and meet Minnesota's sustainable building guidelines. The Legislature is being asked to appropriate $24 million. As far as earmarks go, Lanyon says, "it's not to say that the system can't be abused, but it's a way of getting funding when there doesn't appear to be a program available."
U of M - $2.4 million for advanced hypersonic research. The specific dedication of this money is not yet clear (it's the Defense Department, you know), but the center works on such issues as figuring out how to make a jet fly at Mach 15. The U of M helped develop an air inlet for the scramjet, an engine that operates at speeds like a rocket, but which collects air from the atmosphere to do so. Many of the calculations required in such projects need supercomputers to be able to process the information.
U of M - $219,453 from the Dept. of Ag for the Uniform Farm Management Program. Kevin Klair, who runs the program at the Center for Farm Financial Management, says until the U created a system for year-end financial analysis, individual states had entirely different methods of processing data. Now, he says, that's been standardized so farmers can compare costs and other items to those in other states at www.finbin.umn.edu. "A farmer can look at, for example, import costs and say 'I'm not doing too bad,' or look at veterinary costs and say, 'I wonder why I'm so high,' and begin to analyze." The U has recently expanded the program to provide more data on organic farming. "Now we have over 100 organic farmers participating and if farmers wants to consider organic farming, they can look at get hard data," says Klair.
U of M/Center for Excellence in Rural Safety -$808,500. Originally funded through a transportation bill in 2005, the money funds the work of the center, administered by the Humphrey Institute. The center does research and outreach education on rural safety, according to its director, Lee Munnich . Three-quarters of the public roadways are in rural areas, one-fifth of the population lives in rural areas, but about 60% of the fatal crashes occur on rural roads. The Center looks a variety of issues, including human behaviors. Why do drivers in rural Minnesota, for example, tend not to wear seat belts? The Center also focuses on public policy issues such as primary seat belts laws, graduated license laws and assesses what states are doing on problems such as speeding and drunken driving.
I can't really find a connection between these items, so let's just call this, Bob's List of Interesting Stories -- or BLIS, if you want to sound like an insider.
Call for delay to biofuels policy -- Over on this side of the Atlantic, we're using our food now -- corn -- to make the fuel to run our cars. Proponents says it'll clear the air and make us less dependent on oil. Opponents say the price of food is going through the roof because of it and the environment is damaged. In the UK, some are suggesting a novel alternative to the Minnesota approach: Find out which is correct and then come up with a policy.
Finally! A Nearly Foolproof Circumcision -- At the risk of sounding like a late-night informercial : AccuCirc, as its called, in an answer to botched circumcisions, at a time, we're told, when demand for the procedure has surged among African men.
Changing the White Face of the Green Movement -- Saving the planet isn't just for white dudes anymore. Or is it?(2 Comments)
With the exception of the gas pump, we like nice round numbers and create events around them. When the odometer hits 100,000, it's a big moment for that 100,000th mile, much to the dismay of number 99,999, perhaps.
When the media needs to gin up a story, we'll focus on a politician's first 100 days in office.
And then we have Americans killed in the war in Iraq. Today, numbers 3,997, 3,998, 3,999 and 4,000 are in the news, but only because we don't know which one was actually #4,000 and when we hit these even numbers, the media does a story about how there's still a war going on and people are still dying in it, just like they were yesterday and the day before.
Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic."
Last week, ostensibly to mark the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq, a ceremony was held at the Minnesota Capitol to read the names of those who have died. The next day, Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman gave the Capitol folks the "what for" for not stopping to honor those who have been killed:
I would like to tell you the Capitol of Minnesota came to a hushed halt Wednesday to observe the anniversary of a misbegotten war that has cost far too many lives to ever be worth it, but the country is not in the mood for special observances.
Here's why. These ceremonies aren't just "special observances," they're anti-war protests. The Capitol event was organized by the Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace, an anti-war group, which -- just so we're clear -- has every right to an opinion opposed to the war. Some people agree with it. Others do not.
This afternoon, Women Against Military Madness, is hosting a protest/vigil at Sen. Norm Coleman's office to mark the occasion of the killing of #4,000.
But for those who would rather observe the passing of a life, and maybe even express appreciation for the sacrifice without making a political statement or engaging in a political rally, you're on your own today.(7 Comments)
Posted at 7:39 PM on March 24, 2008
by Bob Collins
The British Psychological Society has commissioned a study into what impact having kids has on a lawyer's productivity.
Specifically, the researchers studied how many hours lawyers in Alberta, Canada, had billed their clients in the past year. It found the most "productive" were female lawyers without kids.
Oddly, male lawyers with kids were more "productive" than male lawyers without kids.
The researchers suggest male lawyers are more likely to put in extra hours on the job.
The two researchers also found that family-friendly work practices had a negative effect on the productivity of men but not women.
Dan Slater, who writes the Wall Street Journal law blog, wonders whether women with kids are just used to getting more done with less time.
Posted at 5:43 PM on March 24, 2008
by Bob Collins
There are two ways to look at the developing story in Woodbury, where an assistant wrestling coach is being investigated for bringing some beer and a couple of high school girls to a hotel room in St. Paul where three wrestlers who qualified for the high school wrestling tournament were staying.
A.) You can just shake your head and say "gee, how stupid can people be?" But, after the last few weeks, isn't that getting old?
B) You can focus on the fact that the kids on his team were the ones who blew the whistle on the guy.
According to the Woodbury Bulletin:
According to school district officials who conducted their own investigation, the students reported the incident immediately to Woodbury head wrestling coach Josh McLay. The incident was then reported to Woodbury police, said Randy Zipf, assistant superintendent for secondary education in South Washington County Schools.
After a year of stories about binge drinking by underage kids, and high school kids getting suspended for posting images of themselves (apparently) drinking in Facebook, here we have the story of a group of kids who knew right from wrong.
Now that's news!
Mark Yudof was one of the more intriguing personalities to roll through these parts. During his five years as president of the University of Minnesota, he started a massive building and renovation program on campus, got to know the students through pancake breakfasts, and butted heads with Jesse Ventura on a regular basis. He also gave sullied basketball coach Clem Haskins a ton of money just to go away, and then tried to get it back. Eventually he went back to Texas, declaring his love for the Lone Star State.
Now Yudof is saddling up and moving on to California. He's about to be officially named the president of the University of California system.
It's good news for the jewels of the UC system but some of the lesser lights might be troubled. According to Richard Blum, chairman of the selection committee and the UC Board of Regents, the only real negative they could find about Yudof is he focuses on the premier parts of his institutions.
"He has shown no interest in the UT Pan Americans or the UT Brownsvilles," said Tom Johnson, executive director of the Texas Faculty Association to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It is all about UT Austin because that is what the world knows about. It is about the high-profile programs."
That may sounds familiar to fans of the U's old General College, but it wasn't Yudof's fault. Yudof's predecessor, Nils Hasselmo, tried to close the college. Yudof championed the college, and his successor, Robert Bruininks , shuttered the school, which had been a gateway for under-prepared metro-area high school students, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. It was combined into the College of Education.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Yudof has his work cut out for him in California, a state with a bad budget picture, the threat of layoffs, and the probability of big increases for students.(2 Comments)