What a legislative critic says about Himle's resignation

I think it’s appropriate.

— Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL), co-chair of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, a legislative body that oversees close to 70 percent of the funding of the film.

Wagenius had criticized the U’s handling of Troubled Waters, saying that it damaged its reputation, and had called on President Bob Bruininks to step in and take control.

She expressed concern over whether the U suffered from self-censorship, and said it needed an agricultural ethics group, similar to the one in it has for biomedical ethics.

Yet she remains — as she has all throughout the affair — hesitant to discuss Himle’s position specifically. She told me its “not really a legislative thing to weigh in on.”

She said she’s unsure whether Himle’s departure signals any real change:

That really depends on the new president. I am sure that as part of his preparation to come to Minnesota, he will be looking at what happened and understanding it. I would expect no less.

The vibe I got from from a few connected to the Troubled Waters issue is that the Republican state electoral sweep has made folks at the commission unsure what to say, since they don’t know where the new members stand on the matter.

As Wagenius told me:

All dynamics have now changed.

And it sounds like the commission has moved on.

Staff Director Susan Thornton said the commission considered sending the university a letter over the Troubled Waters matter, but dropped it. Provost Tom Sullivan made a visit a couple of weeks ago, she said, explained the U’s process and reaffirmed the U’s commitment to academic freedom.

She told me:

We reaffirmed opportunities for further cooperation. We really hope this was an isolated incident.

The subject of Himle, she said, never came up.