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Monday, November 21, 2005

Kandiyohi: Conflict of Interest?

There are two articles in the latest issue of the Southwest Journal by Scott Russell that folks in South Minneapolis need to take a close look at. The two articles, "Power to the People" and "Thinking Green Locally" could really be one article about a burgeoning new market in alternative energy and the city's plans to encourage this new market. Councilwoman Lisa Goodman is quoted talking about a "municipal utility"

"Southwest City Councilmembers Scott Benson (11th Ward) and Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) are kicking around ways to put renewable energy higher on the city's priority list in their new four-year term."

The second article is about a new "for-profit consulting business that would work with developers and cities to promote alternative energy and green buildings."

The Kandiyohi Development Corporation is headed by former Executive Director of the Green Institute, Michael Krause. According to the article, Michael Krause has very close ties to Councilwoman Lisa Goodman:

"Most of the company's officials have close ties to City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who also has an interest in promoting alternative energy sources.

"Havey and Goodman are friends and live in condos in the same building; Wilson has worked as an intern in Goodman's office for the past three summers, focusing on such issues as Downtown greening, the new stormwater utility fee and green roof policies.

"Krause and Goodman jointly own a farm in Kandiyohi County - the source of the company's name. “It's the ground that grounds me,” Krause said."

Goodman is the chair of the Community Development Committee on the Council and Krause is still a member of the Planning Commission.

"As Krause becomes more involved in local developments, he said he would eventually have to step down from the Planning Commission. “There will be too many conflicts,” he said."

The article mentions another member of the Kandiyohi team, Evan Reminick. Neither the SWJ article or the Kandiyohi website bio of Reminick mentions that he works for Smith Partners. Smith Partners is a new law firm that survived the recent break-up of Smith Parker. Smith Parker was the law firm promoting the 35W Access Project and the Lake Street Reconstruction that many people in South Minneapolis felt was entangled in conflicts of interest.

According to its website, Kandiyohi Corporation has a pretty ambitious plan to get involved with...

"...projects as varied as neighborhood-level redevelopment and statewide initiatives. Furthermore, no other firm in the Twin Cities market is as well positioned to work across sectors and align its project focus with emerging policy at the federal, state and local levels."

It will be interesting to see how Goodman and Krause will be able to pursue their respective goals stated in the SWJ articles and avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest on development and energy projects in Minneapolis.

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