A Minnesota budget battle has expanded into an attack on Neil Gaiman, as one fiscally-minded politician called the Newbery Award winning writer, whom he “hates,” a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”
The comment came up as Minnesota House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Dean (R) sought to change the way “Legacy funding” is used to pay for cultural services, such as Minnesota Public Radio, the zoo and, specifically, Gaiman’s $45,000 fee for speaking at the Stillwater Library last year.
The fee is high, as Gaiman himself notes, but he charges a lot of money to discourage speaking requests and he says he donated the money to charity.
Rep. Dean Urdahl is suggesting that instead of being granted the Legacy money, institutions like MPR be required to compete for it:
Legislation that Urdahl’s panel adopted less than a week ago recommended that Minnesota Public Radio receive $2 million in Legacy money over the next two years, that public television get $7.8 million and that an assortment of minority groups, including the Council on Black Minnesotans, share $1 million.
In the new version, most of the groups that previously were to get specific appropriations would now have to compete for the money.
Via Twitter, Gaiman was a bit nonplussed by the attack, tweeting:
Any nice, sane Minnesota Republicans reading this, please vote for someone who isn’t a bully with a hate list next time.
Our own editorialization: Listen, you can target the socialist globalizers at MPR, which has won seven Peabody Awards, and six Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards just fine — but THE ZOO? Leave the children alone!