For years, conservatives have fought for greater accountability with the Met Council. The DFL has enthusiastically supported the status quo that entire time. Immediately after his re-election, Gov. Dayton appointed Adam Duininck as the chairman of the Met Council. Most people have never heard of Chairman Duininck before. Rest assured that Gov. Dayton knows him quite well. According to the article, “He also has a career in DFL politics, serving as executive director for Win Minnesota, which raises money to help elect Democrats. Duininck also is married to Jaime Tincher, Dayton’s Chief of Staff.”
That type of cronyism needs to be checked. That’s why 4 counties have proposed making the Met Council an elected body. Like a predator marking its territory, Duininck isn’t interested in elected office. Instead, he’s deployed a time-tested tactic to allay the fears of the uppity peasant class. Upon getting appointed, Duininck said”My first objective as Met Council chair is to get out and listen to the whole region as much as possible, which is why I talked about spending seven weeks in seven counties,” he said. “I think that’s really important to get out and do that outreach.”
Meanwhile, Anoka, Carver, Dakota and Scott Counties aren’t satisfied with that approach:
“The Metropolitan Council’s authority and involvement in regional issues have expanded greatly since its founding in 1967, but today’s Council has no accountability to the regional residents and taxpayers,” said Commissioner Mike Beard of Scott County. “Instead the Council operates as a state agency, and is answerable solely to the Governor. Reform of the Metropolitan Council’s governance structure would better serve the entire region while increasing accountability and collaboration.”
For those who haven’t heard of Mike Beard before, he is a former state legislator representing Shakopee. Commissioner Beard earned the reputation of being one of the most prepared legislators in St. Paul, too. He’s dealt with the Met Council while he served on Shakopee’s City Council. Commissioner Beard isn’t the only commissioner who wants to see the Met Council reformed:
“Minnesotans take pride in having an active role in the decision making process when it comes to public services but the current structure of the Met Council keeps their voices silent,” said Rhonda Sivarajah, chair of the Anoka County Board of Commissioners. “It’s time to get out of the ’60s and have elected representation on the Council.”
According to this article, the Met Council of Minnesota is unique:
With 4,200 employees and an $890 million annual operating budget, the Metropolitan Council is a benevolent beast of local government, providing both critical daily functions — highways, mass transit, sewers, water and parks — as well as developing far-reaching plans that will guide the region’s future growth.
“There are no comparables,” said University of Minnesota law professor Myron Orfield, who studies regional government, and who, as a state legislator, drafted the 1994 bill that created the modern iteration of the Met Council.
What’s more is that this unelected Council has taxing authority. In other words, the Met Council serves the governor, not the people they tax. That’s why it’s a sham for Chairman Duininck to talk about his listening tour. It sounds fine but it’s utterly meaningless. His wife is Gov. Dayton’s Chief of Staff. When an issue is getting decided, does anyone think he’ll side with Scott County instead of with Gov. Dayton? That isn’t likely, especially considering the fact that his disagreement with Gov. Dayton might get his wife fired.
Commissioner Sivarajah is right. “It’s time to get out of the 60s and have elected representation on the Council.” Any form of government that has taxing authority but isn’t accountable to the people is prone to cronyism and, ultimately, to corruption. That must stop ASAP.