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Orchestra ties questioned ahead of Mpls. City Council vote

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: November 1, 2012 - 7:29 PM

City Council Member Kevin Reich has found his home life under union scrutiny after he weighed in on a council resolution addressing the contentious labor dispute between Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management.

Reich, who pushed to delay the resolution at a meeting last month, lives in a Northeast home with a member of orchestra management, Cindy Grzanowski. Grzanowski is the orchestra's director of marketing.

Reich has been working behind-the-scenes to shape the document, which is merely a statement of the city's position, before a planned vote Friday morning. He did not disclose his relationship with Grzanowski when he voted to leave the item off the Oct. 19 agenda.

“There was a suggestion that there was a conflict of interest," Reich said. "And I sat down with our legal staff who reviews those matters…In review of that under both the state regulation around that and our own city ordinance around that, there was no finding of conflict of interest.”

City conflicts of interest are generally defined as when officials have a financial stake in the outcome of a particular matter. Reich said the two do not have a joint bank account. Ethics rules say officials may participate in a decision when there is no financial interest, but if their partner is affiliated with the entity, they should disclose it.

Reich initially declined to answer questions about whether he lived with Grzanowski, but said during a subsequent phone conversation that she is a member of his household. He also said he sent her an e-mail after the Oct. 19 vote seeking factual information from her superiors.

"I just wanted to see if I could get a quick fact check from somebody who would know," Reich said, noting that the resolution is merely a "consensus document that is not picking sides."

In 2011, Reich wrote on the city's statement of economic interest form that his partner (not named in the document) was a director with the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2012, he wrote nothing.

“Since he’s a councilman reflecting on this issue, even the appearance of some bias which could color his perception of this important issue would be problematic for the musicians," said Brad Eggen, president of the musician's union.

The resolution has changed over time. Perhaps most significantly for the union, it no longer calls for an independent financial analysis of the Orchestra, which the musicians have fought for.

Here are old and new versions of the analysis paragraph:

 

  Be it further resolved that the City of Minneapolis encourages a complete independent financial analysis of the Minnesota Orchestra’s finances, or other measures be taken to ensure both parties have a common understanding of existing financial information; and     Now, therefore, be it resolved that the City of Minneapolis encourages thameasures be taken to ensure that both the Minnesota Orchestra and its musicians have a common understanding of existing financial information and future projections; and

As for whether he will vote on the matter at tomorrow's meeting, Reich said he does not know. Asked whether he will disclose the relationship, he said he would "think about that...I’m going to double check with our house experts.”

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