It’s A Start

Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen resigned from the Metro Sports Utilities Commission yesterday, after the corruption in the MSFC’s use of luxury skyboxes as a spiff for the Twin Cities’ DFL became to great for even the Metro old-boy-and-girl network to hush up.

Mondale and Kelm-Helgen faced cascading criticism and scrutiny since the Star Tribune reported in November that they and other MSFA commissioners hosted friends, family and well-connected DFLers at two 18-person luxury suites at the stadium during Vikings games and at several concerts. The two said the state-owned suites were needed to market the building, but an investigation by Legislative Auditor James Nobles revealed the suites were used mostly for entertainment by the MSFA commissioners and staff.

The Legislative Auditors report sounds like it’s good reading:

[Legislative Auditor James Nobles’] 100-page report faulted Kelm-Helgen and Mondale’s leadership of the MSFA, saying they had violated a core ethical principle by using public office for personal gain, by handing out free tickets, VIP parking, food and drink to friends and allies.

Combined, the two made nearly $300,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries. They oversaw construction of the $1.1 billion stadium, which was funded in part with a $498 million public subsidy.

And the saga of Michelle Kelm-Helgen, DFL grandée extraordinaire,  sounds like a “how-to” for any political glad-hander in a one-party city;

Even before the suite usage blew up, an unclear division of duties between Mondale and Kelm-Helgen became an issue. Former authority members Duane Benson and John Griffith had questioned the need for two taxpayer-funded executives in similar roles. They also raised concerns about Kelm-Helgen’s lack of collaboration.

“We were on a board that had an inability to get information,” Benson said, adding that Kelm-Helgen also refused to let the board participate in her job reviews.

Remember way back when Zygi Wilf was yanking the DFL-led Legislature and Governor Flint-Smith Dayton around, threatening to move the team if the state didn’t pony up to improve his investment for him at public expense?  And we asked – what could possibly go wrong when you entrust half a billion dollars to an bunch of unaccountable bureaucrats whose sole qualification was their DFL political connection?

Because you should remember it.

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13 thoughts on “It’s A Start

  1. …they and other MSFA commissioners hosted friends, family and well-connected DFLers at two 18-person luxury suites …

    Ah, the joys of MPR! On the way in this morning I loved hearing the various folks quoting this line, but MPR studiously took the Daytonian line and merely said “hosted friends and family” throughout their report when discussing the ethical “lapses”. No bias there, no sir!

  2. Nerd: Salutations to NPR for actually reporting the story. How many of NPR brass were in the suites?

  3. When draining the swamp, you can’t start with the alligators right away. It’s nice to be able to pick off a couple of plump frogs on their gilded lily pads, though.

  4. TBS, the Met Commission didn’t list full names. There are lots of things like C. Miller, so it’s tough to figure out just who was admitted. However, nobody who’s repaid the Commission has been a GOPer, they’re all from the party whose name must not be mentioned when possible ethical issues are committed.

    Is there any doubt that if those evil GOPers were running the Met Commission and rewarding their friends that MPR would be trumpeting party affiliations? Instead, with the DFL in the crosshairs, MPR just calls them “political allies”.

  5. Stadium got built, I’m happy, and to top it off the Republicans can run on this in 2018. This story just keeps getting better. Arne Carlson sounded Trump like last night during a extended interview with Dan Barriero on KFAN. Never knew he had that fire in him.

  6. And the saga of Michelle Kelm-Helgen, DFL grandée extraordinaire

    3rd generation:
    Her grandfather, Elmer Kelm, managed Hubert Humphrey’s first Minneapolis mayoral campaign and was chairman of the state Democratic Party when it merged with the Farmer Labor party in the 1940s.
    Her father, Tom Kelm, who ran a small manufacturing business in town, was chief of staff for Gov. Wendell Anderson in the 1970s and followed him to Washington when Anderson became a U.S. senator.

    http://www.startribune.com/june-16-2012-new-stadium-head-has-deep-political-roots/159272025/

    The insult seemed to come out of nowhere at the 1972 DFL Party convention in Rochester. Apparently jealous of the growing power of Tom Kelm, then chief of staff to Gov. Wendell Anderson, someone loudly proclaimed Kelm the “Mayor Daley of Minnesota.”

    Kelm, who overheard, couldn’t have been more pleased at the comparison to Chicago’s infamously influential mayor, Richard J. Daley.

    “He said `Thank you, that’s the best compliment I ever had.’ He enjoyed that kind of notoriety,” said Andy Kozak, who worked with Kelm under Anderson and then as a lobbyist.

    https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-114062213.html

  7. From all the reports I’ve seen, the only GOPer invited to the suites was a low level staffer that is a family friend of the Mondales.
    Kelm-Helgen’s response when originally confronted with the lopsided nature of the party affiliation was, “I’m sure some of the business owners invited are republican.” (paraphrased)

  8. Mitch,

    I heard that on Up and At ‘Em, specifically the bit about Mayor Daley. They’ve been closely following this issue in the News Bag segment.

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