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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 21, 1995)
COVERING THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA SINCE 1901 VOL. 94 NO. 108
The infamous Sciurus niger, or fox squirrel, perches high above the Canfield Administration Building parking lot.
Squirrels did more than $500 damage to administrators’ vehicles last spring.
Shocking story of squirrels gone bad
By Paula Lavigne
Last spring, a spree of vehicular vandal
ism began in the Canfield Administration
Building parking lot. As the weather warms
up, two university administrators say they
hope this year the vandals find a different
home — in a tree.
Their suspects — Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel.
It all started with a faulty headlight in
Bruce Currin’s van. Currin, director of hu
man resources, said he replaced the head
light, but to no avail.
Everything appeared to be in order, he
said, but when he opened the hood, he was
in for a surprise.
“There was this great big squirrel’s nest
in the comer where the light wires were,” he
It was spring, and the squirrels were
ready to make a family. Mid-February is
one of the peak birthing seasons for the fox
squirrel, which accounts for 99 percent of
eastern Nebraska s squirrel population.
Currin’s co-workers teased him, he said,
but he refused to set traps. As an animal
preservationist, Currin said he would never
think of harming a squirrel.
Instead, he spent $40 to get the wiring
fixed, and he parked in a different spot for
a few weeks. But it wasn’t long until the
squirrels moved back.
Another $40 later, Currin said he finally
confronted the squirrel, who was standing 7
feet from his vehicle.
“I just expressed to him in pretty rational
terms that I didn’t think it was appropriate
that he or she — I couldn’t tell from that
distance — built a nest in a car where he
could get hurt,” Currin said. “I asked the
squirrels to move their construction else
And they did.
A few months later, as Michael Mulnix
was driving home, his headlights went out,
his speedometer quit and his oil gauge
dropped to zero.
Mulnix, executive director of university
relations, said he didn’t know what was
wrong because his truck was only two years
old. He pulled into a gas station and had the
attendant check the oil.
“He opened the hood up and ^aid, ‘My
God! What do you have in there?’"’ Mulnix
Mulnix said he walked around and saw a
nest made of plastic bags, sticks and “ev
erything.” Then, he said, the bag moved.
“The guy leaped back and goes, ‘It’s a
rat,”’ he said. “So we got sticks and starting
poking at the sack. We got enough courage
and pulled the bag up. There were three
little tiny baby squirrels in there.”
The squirrels had eaten every wire in his
truck except two.
“I was surprised they didn’t get shocked,”
But Mulnix did — with $425 in repairs.
Scott Hygnstrom, assistant wildlife pro
fessor, said squirrels may be attracted to a
soybean product used to make insulation
See SQUIRRELS on 3
By J. Christopher Hain
Gov. Ben Nelson said Monday that efforts
to lure a 3,500-employee computer-chip plant
to Omaha would benefit all Nebraska.
Nelson said rural state senators who might
plan to derail a group of incentives in die
Legislature to attract the Micron Technology
plant would benefit nobody.
“We need to put aside regional and partisan
differences,” Nelson said.
Three bills, LB828, LB829 and LB830,
introduced by Sen. Ron Withem of Omaha,
create economic incentives for businesses in
vesting at least $50 million in Nebraska and
creating at least 500 jobs.
Micron will decide by March 1 whether to
locate its $1.3 billion plant in Omaha, Okla
homa City or Utah County, Utah.
Some senators have speculated about using
the Micron issue as leverage to push the etha
nol industry, which helps rural Nebraska.
None of the bills have been passed, and
See MICRON on 6
for student jobs
By Matthew Waite
Saying that fast-food restaurants’ high wages
are making hiring students difficult, two cam
pus employers are raising wages for student
University Housing and the Nebraska
Unions have budgeted raises for hourly wages
in an attempt to keep up with the rising fast
food wages, James Griesen, vice chancellor
for student affairs, said.
With area restaurants paying $5 an hour and
more with tuition incentives, he said the labor
pool was being drained.
“With that kind of environment, we simply
can’t ignore it,” Griesen said.
Housing has budgeted a 10 percent raise for
part-time employees, Griesen said, and the
unions have a tentative goal of 5 percent.
Daryl Swanson, director of the Nebraska
Unions, said the unions requested a 10 percent
increase from the Committee for Fees Alloca
tion to support the raises. On appeal, the unions
received a 5 percent increase for the students’
See WAGES on 3
Police chief returns to work; Renteria protests continue
By Brian Sharp
Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady
says he is defined by his career. But
it has been the questions posed to that
definition that have changed him.
it has caused
me to be a much
more serious per
son,” he said. “It
has caused me to
be much more
guarded. I hope
that goes away.”
A grand jury in
down Dec. 1
charged Casady with official mis
conduct. The charge stemmed from
his actions during an investigation
into the death of Francisco Renteria.
Friday, the charge was dismissed
on the grounds that the grand jury
exceeded its authority. Amid pro
tests and more questions from the
Hispanic community and the Renteria
family, Casady returned to work.
In an interview Monday, Casady
spoke quietly, cautiously in his office
at the Lincoln police station. Ques
tions were followed by long periods
of silence as he stroked his mustache,
eyes to the floor; often the response
was that he didn’t have the answer.
“You get the feeling sometimes
that you’re not making anyone
happy,” he said. .
Casady said that as police chief, it
was his job to deal with turmoil and
crisis, balancing different objectives
But the past months have brought
a number of viewpoints and state
ments attacking Casady and the job
he has done. There have been calls
for his resignation and opinions that
his badge is permanently tarnished.
Casady said the hardest thing, aside
from the indictment, has been the
fact that he cannot respond with de
tail in his defense. With charges
against two officers and a fire captain
still pending, Casady said, he must
remain silent on those points for now.
Jose Renteria has said he was dis
appointed that the police department
never contacted his family following
the death of his brother Francisco.
Casady said that was not a regret of
his, and then requested no further
questions about the family.
“Anything I say won’t make any
difference,” he said.
Casady hopes he can make a dif
ference by taking part in the commu
nity conciliation process. When the
group meets today, it will mark the
first time Casady attends.
There will be no speeches, he said.
In fact, Casady said he had no plan to
address the group. Instead, he plans
to keep a low profile, listen, provide
information and make suggestions
Mayor Mike Johanns formed the
group in response to the community
division following Renteria’s death.
The group is scheduled to be dis
solved April 1, but that date is prema
ture, Casady said.
Nothing productive can be accom
plished in that short amount of time,
Casady said. Meeting for an eternity
would only start to address all the
issues that have been and are yet to be
raised, he said.
Casady said it was important for
him to maintain his low profile in
Lincoln as well — for the good of the
conciliation process. Being the focus
of attention will not help the commu
nity heal, he said.
When asked if the media’s atten
tion to the police department and the
focus placed on procedure and him
self had hindered conciliation, Casady
started, “to the extent that individu
See CASADY on 6
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