The contretemps over Neil Gaiman’s $45,000 speaking fee and the Minnesota House majority leader who called him a “pencil-necked weasel” has continued, in the way that all matters of life and death have. Alex Pareene at Salon has one side of it:
Minnesota does this very nice thing where 3/8 of one percent of the state’s sales tax goes to what is known as the Legacy Fund, which is primarily dedicated to clean air and land and water and parks and nature, but which also spends a bit of money preserving the state’s “arts and cultural heritage,” because Minnesotans enjoy the arts, and culture, and there is, in that state, a long bipartisan history of supporting those nice things, as a sort of public good. This very nice thing is in the Minnesota constitution, because the people voted for it.
Meanwhile Minnesota legislators are still investigating the matter, with committee chair Rep. Dean Urdahl suggesting the Minnesota state library budget be cut by $45,000 to make up for the fee.
Urdahl, himself an author, said, “I simply subtracted out $45,000 — just making a point,” in explaining why he cut the library system’s proposed Legacy budget to $3.45 million. The Legacy funding proposal, including the reduced budget for the regional library system, is being reviewed by legislators.
Urdahl also released a letter from the executive director of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, who apologized for using “poor judgment” in paying Gaiman’s fee. “In our naivete, we simply thought there was no room for negotiation,” said Chris Olson, the group’s executive director. “I am very sorry.”
Gaiman is also interviewed in the Star Tribune and writes:
Of Urdahl’s move to reduce the library system’s budget, Gaiman added: “It seems like a sad way to make a point.”
And FINALLY, everyone can make their voice known in the Star Tribune poll on the matter. At press time, Gaiman held a narrow lead.