5 x 8: Predator priests, poor professors, and pols who can’t stay off Twitter


Lost in the news last week about the pope’s interview in which he seemed to backtrack on some social issues (a disputed theory) was this fact: He had nothing to say about the church’s clergy abuse scandal.

He has another opportunity with this morning’s story that reaches the top of the Saint Paul Archdiocese.

“I think that you share with me the opinion that he really was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire,'” Father Kevin McDonough, the then vicar general of the archdiocese wrote in a memo to church leaders after predator priest Father Curtis Wehmeyer had been discovered. “This sort of behavior would not show up in the workplace.”

The former archbishop, Harry Flynn, moved him to another parish instead. So did Archbishop John Nienstedt, even after learning about the abuse of teens at the hands of Wehmeyer, who is now in prison.

Last week, McDonough told MPR News, “”Nothing, nothing, nothing in this man’s behavior known to us would have convinced any reasonable person that he was likely to harm kids,” he said.

Under Francis, the church was expected to act more decisively when there are allegations like the ones that have come out this morning, and the pope has made clear in the past that he doesn’t favor transferring priests.

“I don’t believe in those positions that propose supporting a kind of ‘corporate’ spirit in order to avoid damaging the image of the institution,” the former archbishop of Buenos Aires said before becoming pope.

Related: Priest takes leave of absence after being accused 'inappropriate contact' with woman (Minnesota Public Radio)


Seventy-five percent of college instructors are “adjunct professors,” the part time faculty that works cheaper than the full-time professors. They’re paid an average of $22,000 and when one died penniless recently — she had cancer and high medical bills — it sparked a nationwide debate after her friend wrote an op-ed about her situation.

As amazing as it sounds, Margaret Mary, a 25-year professor, was not making ends meet. Even during the best of times, when she was teaching three classes a semester and two during the summer, she was not even clearing $25,000 a year, and she received absolutely no health care benefits. Compare this with the salary of Duquesne’s president, who makes more than $700,000 with full benefits.

Meanwhile, in the past year, her teaching load had been reduced by the university to one class a semester, which meant she was making well below $10,000 a year. With huge out-of-pocket bills from UPMC Mercy for her cancer treatment, Margaret Mary was left in abject penury. She could no longer keep her electricity on in her home, which became uninhabitable during the winter. She therefore took to working at an Eat’n Park at night and then trying to catch some sleep during the day at her office at Duquesne. When this was discovered by the university, the police were called in to eject her from her office. Still, despite her cancer and her poverty, she never missed a day of class.

Finally, in the spring, she was let go by the university, which told her she was no longer effective as an instructor — despite many glowing evaluations from students. She came to me to seek legal help to try to save her job. She said that all she wanted was money to pay her medical bills because Duquesne, which never paid her much to begin with, gave her nothing on her way out the door.

The comments section of this weekend’s NPR story are full of stories of near poverty.

“A few years ago I met a college professor who had earned her PhD,” says one, “and was in debt for just over 100K. At the time, she was working three teaching jobs. Two were at community colleges and one was at a local university. She had a two hour commute between two of the schools. The university she was teaching at had recently lost two full time professors; one to retirement and one to a career change. The university’s solution was to cut the number of classes being offered and hire three part time (part time means no benefits and a lower wage) professors at a considerable savings.”

Related: Why $100,000 Salary May Yield Retirement Flipping Burgers (Bloomberg).


A City Council member in Rochester is getting the what-for from the Rochester Post Bulletin for piling on an elderly World War II vet who was unable to keep up with maintenance on a home he no longer could live in.

The Council declared it unfit for human habitation last week after Jerold M. Young, 91, told his life’s story, including referring to the Japanese he fought as “Japs.”

“I’m sorry that we have to play babysitter again and put tax dollars on the line to take care of other people’s messes,” Councilmember Michael Wojcik said as the Council vote.

Then he went to Twitter:

“Cut him some slack,” another tweeter said, saying the man came from another era.

No dice with Mr. Wojcik.

That was enough for the editorial board of the Rochester Post Bulletin, which called for the city to muzzle city officials on Twitter and Facebook during meetings:

We’ve said it before (in an editorial in April that also targeted Wojcik), and we’ll say it again: Public officials should refrain from using social media during public meetings. Mr. Young, whatever his failings might be, deserved the courtesy of the council’s full attention without the taint of online scorn. If Wojcik felt compelled to declare that Young is racist, senile or both, he should have done so openly.

Keep in mind that there were people in the council chambers with smartphones or iPads, and there’s no doubt that some of them saw Wojcik’s tweets. Is it right that a council member carry on a secondary conversation with members of the audience during hearings, taking potshots at a Rochester resident, even as he’s supposed to be attending to the city’s business?

It’s high time that the Rochester City Council — and perhaps the Olmsted County Board and Rochester School Board, too — adopt resolutions declaring that no elected official will post their opinions on Twitter, Facebook or other forms of social media during public meetings.


A few days after JFK’s inauguration, a nuclear bomb was almost detonated over North Carolina, the BBC reports. Two bombs were on board a B-52 plane that went into an uncontrolled spin over North Carolina – both bombs fell and one began the detonation process. The government has acknowledged the accident before but never confirmed how close one bomb was to detonating.

One low-voltage switch kept it from going off. I’m not sure I want to know that.


Up in Yellowknife, Charles Delorme has lived on the streets for decades. He recently received his claim from the Indian residential school case. He’s giving money away now.

The CBC reports he’s given $2,000 to a youth center.

“Just like pennies,” says Delorme. “But it means much more to me because it’s for the little kids there.”

Hubert says after the donation, Delorme said a few heartfelt words to the youth at the centre.

“He said, ‘You know, I’m 64 years old. I’m getting a little old and tired. And I just want to say I love you all and God bless.’ And the kids all got up and gave him a big hug and that was a very fantastic day.”​

Delorme says he has more plans for the rest of his money.

“When I see people on the street there too it hurts me. And I don’t like to see them go hungry just like I was before. No place to sleep. No place to call home.”

Delorme says he also plans to donate to the Salvation Army and to his family.

Bonus I: The letter to the daughter he never met from a man killed in World War II has finally reached its intended recipient (NBC)

Bonus II: What Did Your Parents Tell You About Race? (Code Switch)


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Obama’s economic progress.

Second hour: Amy Grace Loyd has spent years in the publishing world. She was the fiction and literary editor at Playboy magazine and is currently the Executive Editor at Byliner.com. And throughout most of that time, she was also working on her own novel that came out in August to solid reviews.

Third hour: Complaints about banks and other financial institutions.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Dr. Gary Slutkin, speaking at the Mayo Clinic “Transform 2013” symposium. He says violence is a health problem: like infectious diseases, it’s contagious and can be treated

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The National Security Agency is about to boot-up its biggest data farm yet. It’s a state of the art facility with a billion dollars and a million square feet in Utah. NPR reports on the growing NSA data harvest.