Conflicts of Interest

At the last GRV meeting the topic of Local Government Conflict of Interest was brought up.  It appears that a few Public officials in the City Government may have conflicts of interest, which may be either intentional or unintentional.   To avoid embarrassment or accusation of impropriety they should abstain from voting or decline to participate in discussion.

 

 The State of Minnesota Office or Revisor of Statutes website (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/pubs/) contains the official State Statutes, Definitions, and Rules pertaining to conflicts of interest for all public officials

Per Minnesota Statutes, County Board members are required to file the Statement of Economic Interest while City government is not.  Why the one and not the other?

Although such disclosures may not be required by statute for our city public officials, it is thought that in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict it would be good public policy for our public officials to provide a “Statement of Economic Interest” , similar to the requirements in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE, paragraph 10A.09, Subd.5  (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=10A.09).     

§ Subd. 5.Form.

(a) A statement of economic interest required by this section must be on a form prescribed by the board. The individual filing must provide the following information:

(1) name, address, occupation, and principal place of business;

(2) the name of each associated business and the nature of that association;

(3) a listing of all real property within the state, excluding homestead property, in which the individual holds: (i) a fee simple interest, a mortgage, a contract for deed as buyer or seller, or an option to buy, whether direct or indirect, if the interest is valued in excess of $2,500; or (ii) an option to buy, if the property has a fair market value of more than $50,000;

(4) a listing of all real property within the state in which a partnership of which the individual is a member holds: (i) a fee simple interest, a mortgage, a contract for deed as buyer or seller, or an option to buy, whether direct or indirect, if the individual’s share of the partnership interest is valued in excess of $2,500; or (ii) an option to buy, if the property has a fair market value of more than $50,000. A listing under this clause or clause (3) must indicate the street address and the municipality or the section, township, range and approximate acreage, whichever applies, and the county in which the property is located;

(5) a listing of any investments, ownership, or interests in property connected with pari-mutuel horse racing in the United States and Canada, including a racehorse, in which the individual directly or indirectly holds a partial or full interest or an immediate family member holds a partial or full interest;

(6) a listing of the principal business or professional activity category of each business from which the individual receives more than $50 in any month as an employee, if the individual has an ownership interest of 25 percent or more in the business; and

(7) a listing of each principal business or professional activity category from which the individual received compensation of more than $2,500 in the past 12 months as an independent contractor.

(b) The business or professional categories for purposes of paragraph (a), clauses (6) and (7), must be the general topic headings used by the federal Internal Revenue Service for purposes of reporting self-employment income on Schedule C. This paragraph does not require an individual to report any specific code number from that schedule. Any additional principal business or professional activity category may only be adopted if the category is enacted by law.

Our purpose is not to encumber our city officials with needless paperwork but to rather to shed light on activity and policies that can lead to erosion of the public trust and to help ensure that the decisions of our public officials remain clear of undue and corrupting influences.

-GRV-

 

Was the Grand Rapids City Council Candidate’s Forum on 10/14 Rigged?

Craig Nelson and Joe Maurer discuss their observations of the Grand Rapids MN City Council Candidates Forum which was held on October 14, 2016 at the Grand Rapids City Hall. One of their main concerns was that the Forum format and line of questioning was slanted toward a specific political ideology and was designed to favor the incumbents.
Watch the Candidates Forum for yourself at ICTV’s Facebook Page link which can be found on ICTV’s website: http://www.watchictv.org.

Question of the Week: Do you know the filing dates for candidates running for state, county and municipal offices?

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The following is taken from the Minnesota Secretary of State web site.
http://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/become-a-candidate/candidate-filing-periods/

2016 Filing Dates

Summary of 2016 Filing Dates
Filing Period Applicable Offices Filing Opens Filing Closes Withdrawal Deadline
Early Filing Period
  • Federal Offices
  • State Offices
  • Judicial Offices
  • County Offices
  • If primary is possible:
    • City Offices
    • School District Offices
5/17/16 5/31/16 6/2/16
Late Filing Period
  • If primary is not possible:
    • City Offices
    • School District Offices
  • Township Offices with November elections
8/2/16 8/16/16 8/18/16
Township Filing Period
  • Township Offices with March elections
12/29/15 1/12/16 1/14/16

Question(s) of the Week: Read On

Questions to Ponder for the “Grand Gathering”.

1. Is the process to pick a city or county administrator flawed by vendor input and sponsorships to the League of Minnesota Cities or Association of Minnesota Counties?

2. Should the County and Blandin Foundation stop funding the IEDC? Are they aware of any influence pedaling to other sponsors? Has IEDC improved the economics of the area?

3. Should the County of Itasca put the choice of Elected Executive on the ballot as the form of County government?

4. With the highest unemployment in the state and the lowest average wage has the Blandin Foundation been a detriment to the area?

Question of the Week: Has the change to a County Administrator form of government been an improvement for Itasca County?

Thinking CapMinnesota statute 375A.01, subd 1 allows counties to adopt one or more optional forms of government.  Any of the options may be adopted or abandoned by following the procedures set forth in sections 375A.01 to 375A.13.  Minnesota Statute 375.01, subd 2 defines 5 optional forms of county government, one of which is a County Administrator.

Prior to the change to a County Administrator form of government, the county operated with a County Coordinator form of government.  The difference between a Coordinator and Administrator form of county government is the level of authority retained by the County Board.   With a Coordinator form, the Board retains both legislative and administrative authority.  With an Administrator form, the County Board transfers most of its  administrative power and responsibility to the Administrator with the exception of elected officials, County Attorney, Sheriff, Auditor and Treasurer.

GRV asks for your comments and opinions. Has the change to an Administrator form of government been an improvement for Itasca County?