consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Met Council in the news.

This link , stating, mid-item:

“It’s not about simply griping about allocation of transportation or parks money or housing in any given particular funding cycle,” said Dakota County Commissioner Chris Gerlach.

“We look at it and say, there is a fundamental problem with the way the Met Council functions. You think it’s one thing, but it’s really not,” Gerlach said. “You think that a Met Council is made up of 16 individuals and a chair appointed by various districts and therefore you have a diverse group that is going to … advocate for the region. It’s not that at all. What it is, it’s a state agency.”

The counties say they have been particularly riled since seeing how the Met Council planned on scoring transit projects with weights given to nonmotorized transportation modes and to concentrated areas of poverty — issues that county officials say do not reflect suburban problems such as congested intersections.

“It seems as though everything is focused on the urban core at the expense of the suburbs,” said Rhonda Sivarajah, chairwoman of the Anoka County Board.

Dayton ‘appalled’

Quarrels between cities and suburbs about how to spend public dollars are as old as the cities and suburbs themselves. But the decision by the four counties to hire a federal lobbyist — before checking with the governor — is viewed by Dayton as a nuclear option.

“It’s really, really reprehensible on their part to be sneaking off to Washington behind the back of — I don’t know if the people on the Met Council were aware of it, but at least behind my back,” Dayton said. “And then come to the state of Minnesota for funding for their projects and the like? If we have a disagreement within our family, then the place to resolve that is within our family. … To go out to Washington behind our backs and trash our situation here in Minnesota, and denigrate Minnesota in front of federal authorities, and try to turn the federal government against Minnesota is really, really irresponsible. I’m appalled to just learn this.”

Anoka County will have spent at least $15,000 in the first quarter of 2015 to enlist the services of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, according to lobbyist disclosures. Filings show the three other counties also hired Miller/Wenhold and said they plan to spend $15,000 to $20,000 each in public dollars this year to research options for how to get around the Met Council. The lobbyist, Paul Miller, did not return calls or e-mails to comment for this story.

If I were that Paul Miller guy in DC, I'd not return calls or emails either. What with Strib sniffing all over the gentleman's firm's cash flow.

Which is the interesting point the reporting fully dodges addresssing? This firm, what are its talents, it's track record, and what were the dynamics of its choice?

Okay, they hire A lobbyist. Big deal? The story is why, THIS lobbyist?

The dynamics of choice making by the various county officials, in contact however they were, and a sub-question is whether inter/intracounty contacts might have breached open meeting law?

Any reader at a meeting where, "Let's hire this Paul Miller dude," was formally discussed is asked to provide a comment linking to online meeting minutes covering the choice(s) made and underlying rationales. Someone had to believe this individual would be successful in what he'd be tasked to do, and contract papers should shed great sunshine on what such tasking was. Or not? Sometimes not leaving a paper trail is an aim, rather than transparency of process and adherence to sound procedure being scrupulously and objectively documented (i.e., principally, in suitable detail - who said what, when, to whom, in open meetings or otherwise, ... what do the lobbyists' marching orders say, payment terms and project milestones, all that kind of stuff ... ).

Consonant with Glen Taylor's Strib's reporting; Gary Gross seems non-curious, why this lobbyist hired; and for what precise ends?

Nobody cares about the lobbyist's marching orders?

"Go forth, and sin no more," but keep lobbying?

What? What's that mean?

Why DC, why Paul Miller, toward what end?

You'd think journalism involved some question asking beyond publishing dueling quotes from some batch of politicians' press releases? Such as a public data disclosure request or two aimed at proactive county officials, acting miles apart, proactively leaving a paper trail on bargaining and signing a contract for professional services - somehow coordinated/centralized/spelled out - and not a void for vagueness vapid single page retainer split agreement. Having some manner of invoice and payment structure, presumably set out in advance.

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