Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Drazkowski's Fishing Expedition

Conservative Republican state legislator Steve Drazkowski, who represents Steve Sviggum's old seat in rural southeast Minnesota, has filed a Freedom of Information Request for some that's got me wondering why. I wonder what he is after anyway. Here's some text from his request:

"Dear Mayor Rybak,

"This is a formal request under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13, for access to inspect all memos, documents, files and emails in your or the City of Minneapolis' possession related to any expense reimbursements over the past five years, since January 1st 2005, to you as mayor and also to your chief of staff and any or all city council members.

"In addition, I wish to inspect any and all public data related to Community Planning and Economic Development grants to any nonprofit entities during those years.

"Finally, I am requestiong access to inspect any and all data related to the 'climate change grants' referenced in the city's 2009 budget."

My staff worked an hour this morning on this broad request, and we're not done yet. I shudder to think of the hundreds if not thousands of Minneapolis tax dollars that could be taken up by the time the City's response is complete.

I am concerned that this request, written on House of Representatives stationary, is political opposition research to use against Mayor Rybak, who has been accurately and effectively criticizing Governor Pawlenty's mismanagement of the State and misrepresentations about Minneapolis. (Speaking of misrepresentations, Rep. Drazkowski's campaign site states that "the last session of the legislature began with a $2.2 billion surplus.")

And then there's the content of the request. Is he trying to lay the groundwork to attack the City for partnering with nonprofits, which I'm proud to say we do all the time? Our nonprofit partners - including neighborhood groups, community development corporations, and service and advocacy organizations too numerous to mention - help us deliver vital services and work on some of the most intractable problems facing our communities. For instance, as part of our ongoing youth violence prevention program, we're partnering with nonprofit organizations throughout the city to prevent young people from killing one another. Is this the sort of partnership that Rep. Drazkowski will attack us for in the coming weeks and months?

Is he gather information to attack the city's extremely successful climate change grants? For very little money - one to ten thousand dollars each - these grants have mobilized Minneapolis residents to decrease both their expenses and their carbon emissions through simple actions like installing compact fluorescent light bulbs. This shouldn't be controversial.

But Rep. Drazkowski, according to his campaign website, believes that nuclear power should be considered renewable energy, so I can understand why it would be difficult for him to understand.

I fully support the Minnesota Data Practices Act and try to push the City to make sure that allour information is easily and readily accessible and am happy to comply with these kinds of requests, but I am also willing to share my reactions when such a requests gets me wondering and this one certainly did.


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