Short Takes for April 5

Parks and trails funding complaints

THUMBS DOWN: It was disappointing, although anything but surprising, that urbanites are miffed about how the state divides $80 million in parks and trails funding from the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Current funding allocation goes like this: 40 percent to metro areas, 40 percent to state parks and trails, and 20 percent to greater Minnesota. Looks like we should be the ones doing the squeaking. The commissioner of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board recently noted that the Twin Cities generates most of the state’s tax revenue and thus should receive more than the 40 percent it gets. That may be true, but can he really believe people go to the metro area (and spend their money) for its parks and trails? Seriously? It’s our belief people flock there because of the monstrous mall, other shopping choices, hotels and restaurants and to be entertained, either at a theater or a stadium/ballpark. Of course the metro area brings in more tax dollars – they have more people and more to offer in terms of retail, food and lodging. The Cities are a draw because they have so many draws. As far as rural Minnesota, much of what we can offer to attract outsiders, besides small-town entertainment, is found outdoors, in nature – nature made more accessible and desirable with enhanced parks and trails. We know nature out here, we know the outdoors, and it’s our opinion that many in the metro area wouldn’t know nature if it fell out of a tree and hit them on the head. Our metro friends are right: The split is unfair – to outstate Minnesota.

The ugly side of coaching

THUMBS DOWN: Mike Rice’s coaching antics at Rutgers University got him rightfully canned Wednesday, just days after ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired video of him physically and verbally abusing his players at practice – he used homophobic slurs and pushed, kicked and threw basketballs at members of the team. Rice is a hot head in true Bobby Knight fashion. The difference is, Knight was Knight; Rice just wants to be like Knight. Plus, Knight won. A lot. Sad as it is to say, winning at the level Knight did at Indiana for so many years causes most cheeks to turn the other way, no matter how unprofessional we think it is. Fans appreciate Rice’s fire on the sidelines – he’s not the first coach to yell and scream for what seems like an entire game – but that’s on the sidelines, in public. What the video shows of him doing privately (as if anything is private anymore) in practice is appalling. Rice is everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with coaching. Parents of kids at any level want their coaches to be passionate in their teaching, and we shouldn’t be surprised if our kids get yelled at because we trust these well-paid coaches with our student-athletes, but Rice clearly crossed the line.

Water issues

THUMBS DOWN: Whether or not you want to believe it, Minnesota is facing serious water issues that were exacerbated by last year’s drought. And if the drought conditions persist this year, homeowners more than likely will feel the urge to soak their lawns as much as possible. Not a good thing. We encourage area residents to do your lawn-and-garden homework when it comes to watering and make sure not to over-water this spring and summer. Using too much water will put even more of a strain on our most important resource. We all want our gardens to flourish and our lawns to be lush and green, but don’t be surprised if the city you live in produces some strict watering guidelines this year.