Monday, February 27, 2017

Leaders with a Mission – Blatz and Anderson

Far too often, Governor Dayton has chosen government leaders on the basis of political loyalty rather than competence. However, the selection of Kathleen Blatz as chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) is spot on. We need credibility and capability in the management of the public’s money.

One is hard pressed to think of any endeavor that has been more mismanaged than the partnership between Zygi Wilf and the government. It has been a nightmare of faulty promises, secrecy and ineptitude finally resulting in a Senate investigation led by Senator Sarah Anderson and the housecleaning of MSFC.

No Minnesotan enjoys a higher level of credibility than Kathleen Blatz and that is precisely what is needed if any semblance of public trust in governmental partnerships is to be restored. In typical Blatz fashion, she immediately reviewed the mission of the commission and engaged her board colleagues in a genuine discussion of purpose. She recognized that there can be no unity until there is a real understanding of the legislation that created MSFC.

As a legislator, District Court judge, and Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Kathleen Blatz always had her compass fixed on the public good and never permitted any form of self-interest by anyone to enter into the final work product. That level of integrity and competence is precisely what the doctor ordered.

While the MSFC redefines it role and reviews its contracts, the state Senate will continue its work on restructuring the commission.  Headed by Senator Sarah Anderson (R-44A), the committee has an opportunity to truly straighten out the whole stadium mess. It began with false statements of funding by gambling proceeds “without using a single dollar of general fund tax revenues” and included a law limiting all public funding to $498 million. Obviously, truthfulness and law have succumbed to secrecy and an endless amount of public monies being directed to the stadium.

It is imperative that Senator Anderson, who is emerging as a state leader and possible gubernatorial candidate, direct a public review of the stadium project from the very beginning. Only then can there be a full comprehension of the oversight role and the assignment of that role to the commission or another entity. But without an understanding of the past, it will be futile to attempt to design the future.

Further, the Anderson committee has an opportunity to make a permanent contribution to future public-private partnerships by making a declaration of public policy that includes a list of essential ingredients with full public disclosure and competence at the top.

The end results of the efforts by the MSFC board under the leadership of Kathleen Blatz and the Senate Committee chaired by Sarah Anderson could well be a structure that is truly dedicated to the public good. That would be a change we would welcome.

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