Sunday, November 1, 2009
Minneapolis Park Board Intrigue!
Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, images from Michael Guest for Minneapolis Park Board Facebook page, and www.minneapolisparkboardwatch.com, respectively.
This email came to me a while ago and I had waited to publish it. Given its direct, although intricate, political content, my preference was that John would blog about it instead of myself. But we're getting too close to the election to allow this information to remain unpublished. "Information wants to be free," John says. I prefer "Information begets information," but the sentiment is the same.
In that spirit, here is some Minneapolis Park Board information to get out there...
The email sent to me is as follows (links added are mine):
"Recently the Star Tribune wrote about the conflict of interest between Brian Rice and the Minneapolis Park Board." (JNS disclaimer: Strib links often go dead over time, but there is no other link to this pertinent story.)
"Considering the challenged state of north Minneapolis parks and the important role they plan in the vitality of our community, we decided to take a look at the Minneapolis Park Board race.
The lawyer-lobbyist has worked for the Park Board since 1985. His firm made over $600,000 last year and this has been a consistent amount over the years.
We looked at Jon Olson's report.
Olson’s campaign finance report, dated September 1st. Olson raised $5,600. Of that, $2,400 was itemized. Of the 9 itemized contribution – those over $100 – 6 had a direct connect with Brian Rice. Two were labor PACs a third a PAC for motorcyclist.
Brian Rice’s contracts are up for renewal after the election. Do his and his allies' generous contributions to candidates around the City influence their decision on who to hire? Are we getting the best value? Considering Rice has recently lost two high profile legal battles, is the Mpls Park best represented by the Rice Michels firm?
Shouldn’t the Park Board have a Conflict of Interest policy that would not allow employees or contractors to be allowed to make a donation to Park Board candidates?"
(End email message)
I am admittedly unfamiliar with some of the questions raised here, but I do believe they are important ones to ask, especially in the days leading up to an election. JNS readers are encouraged to submit comments. I was also sent campaign finance reports for both Jon Olson and Michael Guest. Those are included in the JNS pdf site. I've looked at both of those reports and see that the itemized section of Olson's report shows contributions from PAC's. Guest's itemized contributions are from individuals. Personally, I'd rather have someone in office who, due to contributions, is beholden more to voters than to PAC's (even ones that I like, such as Police and labor).