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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Response to My Public Records Request to Hennepin County

Dear Ms. Young:

This is in response to your request for information that was sent to me on February 13 and your follow-up request that was sent to Ms. Vargas February 15.

For clarity, the responses follow the questions in the text below.

Best Regards,

Dan Kenney

Eva Young
02/15/2006 04:52 PM TO: CC:,
judy Johnson,
Linda Koblick,,,,
Philip Krinkie, Subject Public Records Request

Dear Ms Vargas:

Commissioner Koblick suggested I send this request to you. A few days ago, I sent an email to Dan Kenney, in Mike Opat's office requesting this information. I have received no response. I have also sent you a fax with a similar request for information.

How much is the county spending on lobbying for the stadium - in 2005, and what is budgeted for 2006?

On May 3, 2005, the Hennepin County Board adopted 05-5-220R1, directing staff to draft a legislative proposal seeking tax levy authority to fund construction of a new Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.

As you can see in the first resolving clause, the Board authorized (and the County spent) $25,000 for lobbying the ballpark proposal in 2005. It is an open question whether there will be another ballpark proposal, so at this point, there is no budget for lobbying this issue in 2006.

Also, what percentage of staff time in Commissioner Opat's office, both by commissioner Opat, and his staff member Dan Kenney, as well as other county commissioner staff, is being spent on the stadium issue?

This information is not tracked and is not required to be tracked.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Hennepin County's governance structure. County Board Members do not report to the County Administrator. The Administrator reports to the Board.

Personally, I work on a broad variety of County issues, including the ballpark, as directed by Commissioner Opat.

Given Commissioner Opat's role in negotiating the ballpark agreement, our office probably handles more inquiries than others, and it does take time to respond. In addition, because of my background as a former staff member on the Minneapolis City Council, the County's former representative on the Minneapolis Planning Commission, and as a current member of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, it is not unusual for other County Board Members to seek my input in responding to questions about the ballpark site, the design, or how the financing proposal is structured.

How long has Dan Kenney and Mike Opat been spending this amount of time on the stadium issue?

See above.

Is there any problem with putting some language into the twins stadium proposal that would preclude County Commissioners who vote in favor of the stadium from later benefiting from getting on the stadium commission?

This is a matter to be decided by the Minnesota Legislature. In my view, the notion that you would exclude any individual from a potential role in protecting the public's interests on a future Ballpark Authority would be both short-sighted and ill-advised. But whatever our differences of opinion, policy-makers will determine how a new proposal is structured.

Please respond by March 15, 2006. If this information isn't available, please explain the problems are with providing the information.

Thank you very much for your attention.

As you know, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has voted 3 times over the last 4 years to submit ballpark proposals to the Minnesota Legislature. While I respect your right to oppose public participation in a new ballpark, I hope going forward you spend more of your time selling the merits of your position, rather than questioning the motives and making unfounded accusations about the people on the other side of the issue.

Kenney points to this Lloydletta post about a Strib article on Stenglein's conflict of interest.

Kenney continues:

I understand elected officials and public employees are easy targets, but that doesn't make it right. And it doesn't help make your case.

He sure is condescending. Linda Koblick - a commissioner, suggested I direct the public records request to the County Administrator. I was just requesting some information that should be available to a member of the public.