With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Corey Mitchell, Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Recount

Dayton: Only informed last week of Dorsey & Whitney dismissal

Posted by: Updated: September 14, 2011 - 3:46 PM

By MIKE KASZUBA and RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he learned just five days ago that state Attorney General Lori Swanson had in late July dismissed the Dorsey & Whitney law firm as the state’s bond counsel.

In a surprise move, Swanson’s office sent a July 29 letter to Dorsey & Whitney notifying one of Minnesota’s most prominent law firms that its five-decade run as the state’s bond counsel was ending.  Dorsey & Whitney served as bond counsel to the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, the state’s main finance office whose commissioner reports to the governor.

Dayton and Swanson are both DFLers and the 600-lawyer law firm, headquartered in Minneapolis, includes former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale as a senior counsel.

At the State Capitol, Swanson’s office sits across the hall from the governor’s office.

“I was told about it last Friday,” Dayton said.  “It’s entirely the attorney general’s decision – prerogative – under state law, and that’s well established.”

The governor said Wednesday he did not yet know the details regarding the decision, and said he could not comment on the move.  “I heard from” the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, he said.  “I don’t know when they were told.”

In explaining its decision, Swanson’s office said it was concerned with ethical conflicts that Dorsey & Whitney had in both representing the state and also representing private companies that had business before the state or had filed lawsuits against the state.

The state attorney general’s office also said that Dorsey & Whitney’s previous work representing tobacco companies against the state presented a “serious and irreconcilable conflict of interest” during the just-concluded state government shutdown.  Because the budget solution between Dayton and Republican legislative leaders included a plan to rely on income the state gets from its lawsuit against the tobacco companies, Swanson’s office explained, it was necessary to hire another law firm to serve as bond counsel.

“No vendor of the state should have a permanent monopoly on government projects,” Swanson said in a statement issued through a spokesman.

Swanson has declined to be interviewed regarding the decision.

Today's calendar for shutdown "special master"

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 1, 2011 - 8:51 AM

 Starting this morning, former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Blatz began hearing from Minnesotans requesting shutdown funding.

The Star Tribune will be live streaming the hearings here.

Here's the list of petitioners on her Friday docket:

 

Special Master Schedule July 1

Abeler: Still enough time to avoid shutdown

Posted by: Updated: June 30, 2011 - 6:13 PM
 The top House Republican on health and human services issues said late Thursday afternoon that there were  encouraging signs regarding state budget talks, but that time was running out.
“I was actually hopeful two days ago that if we could have gotten enough work done we’d be done by today,” said Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, which oversees the largest part of the state’s budget.
Like other Republicans who began talking in more detail Thursday, just hours before a possible state government shutdown, Abeler tried to apply pressure on Gov.  Mark Dayton to avoid a Friday shutdown and agree to a so-called “lights on” bill that would temporarily keep state services up and running.
“What has to happen is that the leadership and the governor have to be confident that we’re close enough – a ‘lights on’ bill will take 10 minutes to do,” he said.  “That’s just, like, nothing to do. You can do that in two pages.”
Abeler said DFL and Republican negotiators were close to reaching agreement on many parts of the state’s health and human services budget. “There’s a lot of parallel direction,” he said. “The direction that they’re going in is parallel to ours.
“I’m a terminal optimist,” Abeler said of the chances there could be an agreement by midnight on the state’s overall budget. “If I get discouraged, stuff is really bad.
“Eight hours in this world is a long time,” he added.
 
 

Howe to GOP: County debt 'embarrassing' and 'indefensible'

Posted by: Updated: June 6, 2011 - 7:09 PM

State Sen. John Howe is not happy that his party owes Minnesota counties thousands of dollars and hasn't responded to his offer to help pay some of the debt.

“This is embarrassing and painfully indefensible,” he wrote to fellow GOP senators. “This damages us not just on the local level, but statewide as well. It is spreading through the political blogs, and must be a reason for much head shaking in water cooler conversations.” 

The Red Wing Republican said he asked GOP party leaders about resolving the debt a month ago. He offered to help pay it personally, through various GOP campaigns or even by holding fundraisers.

He never heard back.

“Unfortunately, the party laundry is being aired," Howe said in an interview Monday. "This is an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.”

The Star Tribune reported a week ago that the state GOP still owes money to about one-third of the state's counties for work performed leading up to the 2010 gubernatorial recount.

At the time, 30 counties are owed a total of $27,115 for work processing data requests for the party, according to the GOP.

State party Chairman Tony Sutton said they are picking away at the bills as they can, paying off several each week.

Sutton said he spoke with Howe on Monday and relayed a simple message: "If you want to help, send money."

Howe said the lingering debt goes against the party’s fiscally conservative beliefs and has had embarrassing repercussions as the GOP is locked in a bitter budget stalemate with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

In his letter to fellow Republicans, Howe called attention to a Winona Post editorial, which said: "State Republican lawmakers have urged the state to live within its means. That may be good advice, but it becomes cheapened — if not discredited — when the same party can’t live within its own means."
 

Howe to GOP: County debt 'embarrassing' and 'indefensible'

Posted by: Updated: June 6, 2011 - 7:09 PM

State Sen. John Howe is not happy that his party owes Minnesota counties thousands of dollars and hasn't responded to his offer to help pay some of the debt.

“This is embarrassing and painfully indefensible,” he wrote to fellow GOP senators. “This damages us not just on the local level, but statewide as well. It is spreading through the political blogs, and must be a reason for much head shaking in water cooler conversations.” 

The Red Wing Republican said he asked GOP party leaders about resolving the debt a month ago. He offered to help pay it personally, through various GOP campaigns or even by holding fundraisers.

He never heard back.

“Unfortunately, the party laundry is being aired," Howe said in an interview Monday. "This is an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.”

The Star Tribune reported a week ago that the state GOP still owes money to about one-third of the state's counties for work performed leading up to the 2010 gubernatorial recount.

At the time, 30 counties are owed a total of $27,115 for work processing data requests for the party, according to the GOP.

State party Chairman Tony Sutton said they are picking away at the bills as they can, paying off several each week.

Sutton said he spoke with Howe on Monday and relayed a simple message: "If you want to help, send money."

Howe said the lingering debt goes against the party’s fiscally conservative beliefs and has had embarrassing repercussions as the GOP is locked in a bitter budget stalemate with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

In his letter to fellow Republicans, Howe called attention to a Winona Post editorial, which said: "State Republican lawmakers have urged the state to live within its means. That may be good advice, but it becomes cheapened — if not discredited — when the same party can’t live within its own means."
 

inside the StarTribune