consultants are sandburs

Monday, December 24, 2012

Viewing Paul Levy's latest Strib report from a fiscal point of view, there is some sense to what the present power bloc of the Anoka County Board is up to. If you read the entire thing you get the sense of an ill-formed collective belief Steve Novak is made of kryptonite. Anything about him lessens their collective super-strength lockstep cohesiveness. And they will have none of that.

A kryptonite sample,
flashing that big middle crystal for all to see.

Levy's report, here. Insular things for insular minds?

As to the possible sense of things - this MICA organization seems possibly akin to LMC (League of Minnesota Cities), each being its respective legislative lobbying tool for counties and cities. LMC membership for Ramsey, in my view, is questionable less from a fiscal viewpoint than from one of bias, with the LMC appearing to me to be far, far, far too tolerant of city officials' conflict of interest situations - or at least having that track record in two instances where formal viewpoints were issued regarding Kurak years ago, and the more recent McGlone-Flaherty hiring. I am unaware whether LMC was consulted over the city - Wiser Choice dealings. LMC provides pooled liability insurance to Minnesota cities, depriving the private sector of that business opportunity where I await Tea-Party Republican bleating to that tune; and I presume MICA has a similar offering for its member counties. If Anoka County does remove itself from MICA membership, will there be a boosted cost of insurance, including errors and omissions coverage and such? A separate question, a digression, so back to the thread.

Levy writes,

Anoka County pays a total of more than $400,000 in annual fees to nearly 70 groups. But others say a rift between County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former county senior manager Steve Novak forced the county's pending January decision to leave the Inter-County Association (MICA), which recently hired Novak as a lobbyist.

[...] "It's not about money; the amount of money needed for these associations is in the budget," Kordiak said. "The moment there was an indication of Steve Novak's departure from this county" and that Novak might be hired by MICA, there was "immediate discussion about withdrawing from MICA."

Sivarajah, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, was the only Anoka County commissioner to vote against a proposed Vikings stadium in Blaine in 2006. Novak, a former DFL state senator, was Anoka County's lead negotiator for the Vikings stadium. Any relationship they had seemed to deteriorate after January 2011, when Sivarajah became chairwoman of the board and Novak was one of the county's senior managers.

Novak declined to be interviewed. Sivarajah said MICA's hiring of Novak months ago was not a factor in county discussions about leaving MICA. In a letter sent to MICA members on Dec. 14, Sivarajah never mentions Novak as a reason for MICA and Anoka County possibly parting ways.

But Sherburne County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing, MICA's treasurer, said he heard grumbling from Anoka County about MICA's hiring of Novak as a lobbyist months ago.

"The politics inside the boardroom of Anoka County, to me, are kind of frightening," he said. "They're a polarized board. They never said, 'Don't hire him.' But it was clearly understood that if we did, it would create issues for them."

When asked recently if the county was considering leaving any associations, County Commissioner Matt Look, a member of the board's fiscally conservative majority, asked why the county should support MICA after it hired Novak.

MICA is a nonprofit organization of growing or urban counties. Anoka County Commissioner Carol LeDoux says MICA "allows us to network with other counties and build relationships that may produce healthy relationships we may have to call upon to accomplish a project."

County lobbyist Kathy Tingelstad, the county's lobbyist, said membership in associations like AMC and MICA are crucial when networking at the State Capitol.

[italics added - see how kryptonite effects cohesiveness to where even keeping a story straight between cohorts is impacted]

Levy writes much more, so read it all, here, beyond the above-quoted opening scene-setting.

Interestingly, the article has no quote or reporting of Robyn West having her hand in MICA things. She's probably still too exhausted to publicly speak, from her creeping all around the county for weeks reading the fine print at the bottom of political campaign signs. Now we know. That's probably why she missed the League of Women Voters candidate forum where even Matt Look showed up to participate. Too busy that night out on sign patrol; crawling around on hands and knees with a flashlight, muttering, "PAC, PAC, PAC, eureka, no PAC, I can't wait to file, I can't wait, I can't wait." Little Nowhere Lady.

Statesmanship blushes.

In fairness, I have to reemphasize my respect for Sivarajah's opposition to the ill-concieved and referendum shunning stuff that went on where Anoka County dealt with Zygi Wilf and his elves as part of his snit a few years back because Pohlad was getting a new public-money stadium before him, despite Pohlad being a local gazillionaire and having an established place in line ahead of Mr. ZW at the public trough. That was a stupid thing from the get-go and only Sivarajah voiced the "naked emperor" truth in things. Still, years back and a collapsed plan to tax us without any referendum, which was both very raw and very stupid, but it's water under the bridge. Grudges seem to last. Even mine. Do read Levy's entire Strib report.

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