The inside story on Minnetrista local issues: This blog is to inform citizens and give them a perspective on matters of importance in Minnetrista, MN. Opinions posted here are my own and do not reflect official positions of any public body or official.
WHY THEY HID “OUR MINNETRISTA” – The June judgement handed down to the mayor and council members involved in the “Our Minnetrista” scandal ordered them to file accurate campaign finance reports and pay their fines by August 1. One need look no further to see why they hid the role of the political committee “Our Minnetrista” in their campaigns. They would’ve had to truthfully disclose this:
Keep in mind there were other, legitimate, candidates that spent money of their own in these elections. The mayoral candidate opposing Whalen in 2014 lost by less than 200 votes. These violations affected the outcome of these elections in both 2014 and 2018. The three judge panel called it corruption citing their actions “corrupted the political process” and gave the Our Minnetrista candidates “an unfair advantage.” Our mayor calls it an “administrative error.”
Destruction of evidence during an ongoing civil suit is a criminal offense last I heard. On the very day screen shots from www.ourminnetrista.com were taken showing donations going into an “Our Minnetrista” account (something they had been very careful to obscure by reporting all donations as going directly to their candidates) the entire Our Minnetrista website was deleted. The screenshots were shared with them as part of the discovery process of the civil suit and within hours of that notification the entire website was deleted, all their Facebook content was deleted and no online evidence remained of their activity. Sound like an innocent “error?”
You really can’t make this stuff up. There is actually a letter to the editor of The Laker Pioneer this morning praising their slanted coverage of the “Our Minnetrista” scandal from an “Our Minnetrista” member, Wendy Applegate, who was identified as such in subpoenaed emails discussing their illegal financial scheme. See page 5 of the Laker Pioneer July 27 edition. The author also wrote a letter to the Laker editor back on September 10, 2014 announcing the formation of Our Minnetrista and a fundraiser for them.
Wake up Minnetrista.
The above email was trial exhibit #61 and is public information in case number OAH 71-0325-35774.
Another letter to the Laker editor titled “Kudos to Local Paper for Minnetrista Coverage” was in last week’s paper from Deanna Montang who is notably an “Our Minnetrista” member as well and appears as a recipient in the trial exhibit email above.
Also note that at the July 15 Minnetrista council meeting several people listed in this trial exhibit were the individuals speaking in support of the mayor and two council members fined for campaign finance violations. Of course they support the “Our Minnetrista” public officials. They are “Our Minnetrista” leaders.
MORE MINNETRISTA-GATE DISCOVERY – Just when you think it can’t get any worse… The following testimony from the recent campaign violations trial shows us that long before Minnetrista Councilor Patricia Thoele publicly resigned her council seat the end of March 2018, the “Our Minnetrista” political committee members (which included Mayor Whalen and Councilors Mortenson & Thoele) were busy recruiting Thoele’s replacement the previous January. According to trial testimony they invited John Tschumperlin to meet with them in January, keeping Thoele’s pending resignation a secret until the end of March, and then voted Tschumperlin in as her replacement.
All this while inviting residents to interview for the vacancy they had already rigged.
It is a violation of Minnesota’s public meeting law for a quorum (3 or more) council members to discuss city business outside of noticed public meetings.
*There is no relation between Judge Mortenson & Council Member Pam Mortenson
The Laker Pioneer has this down almost as well as their artistry in burying stories that are damaging to the public officials they protect. Their July 20 article covering Minnetrista’s July 15 council meeting is blatantly misleading when it says the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) found “no criminal activity took place” on the part of the Minnetrista-gate Respondents. Someone needs to tell the Laker that the OAH is a civil court and can’t rule or convict anyone criminally. The evidence of criminal activity found during the discovery phase of the civil trial was not even heard by the OAH. It has, however, been submitted to the county Sheriff’s office and county attorney. That is a fact, not a rumor as the Laker asserts.
The Laker, in their predictable “unbiased” fashion, quoted only supporters of the mayor and council member Respondents. Not one of the many people that spoke demanding their resignations was quoted in the story.
It then goes on to say the mayor “promised that there would be no debate,” ostensibly to seem fair since one of the sitting council members was the Complainant in the case, but then [unilaterally] went on to give “corrections to some of what was said” and made an “attempt to put to rest certain rumors…” And people wonder why I blog.
A gentleman was quoted in the story saying we shouldn’t continue “to beat a 5-year-old dead horse.” I’m sure the reporter knows these violations were from the 2018 election which wasn’t even a year ago. Violations from 2014 were litigated as well because the role of Our Minnetrista was concealed and prevented their discovery back then.
“We take ownership of this error,” the mayor is quoted as saying and elsewhere the violations are referred to as an “administrative error.” Translation: “We are unapologetic and do not admit to any wrongdoing whatsoever and never will.” The OAH doesn’t impose a $5,000 fine because of an “error”. The council candidate which the “Our Minnetrista” member, Jane Norling, spoke of that evening (which the story conveniently leaves out) who was fined for an inadvertent contribution limit “error” last year was only fined $250, hardly comparable to the seriousness of these violations the judges said gave “an unfair advantage” to Mayor Whalen and Councilors Mortenson and Tschumperlin. They cheated to win and see nothing wrong with it.
Did anyone notice the headline typeface on this slanted piece was twice the size of the ones used on the buried stories about the original allegations and the judgments handed down in June? Intentional? I’m sure it was just an “administrative error.”
If there is a remnant of professional journalism left in America it certainly won’t be found at the Laker-Pioneer.
Just wondering how many residents in Minnetrista have called the city to complain about their neighbor and had the mayor and several staff members show up to help.
The city passed an ordinance last year banning short term rentals of less than 30 days duration anywhere in the city. So far there have been no citations for violating the ordinance, however a resident has been complaining about the rental property next door which, so far, appears to be complying with the ordinance.
The mayor and several staff members scheduled a meeting this week with the resident to discuss his “concerns about what’s going on at the home next to him.”
If there was any doubt about the stronghold the political committee “Our Minnetrista” has over our city it was displayed last night at our city council meeting, the first since the campaign finance judgments were handed down against the mayor and two council members. In a well orchestrated turnout the political machine sent speakers to the podium, one by one, each with scripted remarks pledging allegiance to the misunderstood public officials that had been party to the illegal activities of “Our Minnetrista” accepting more than 10 times the legal contribution limits.
Several of the “Our Minnetrista” contributors that wrote checks over statutory limits spoke last night echoing the mayor’s cry that it was all just an “administrative error.” Readers may remember a similar cry of there being “no basis” for any of the complaints when they were filed after the election.
“Our Minnetrista” Treasurer Karen Danielson turned on the waterworks on cue claiming innocence (or was it ignorance, I don’t remember) before the crowd and, again, made unsubstantiated claims of her attempts to get approval for implementing the financial scheme which involved concealing the source of candidate contributions as well as their amounts. In her sworn declaration she actually admitted no one told her the scheme was legal. And the Oscar goes to…
There were several individuals who spoke asking for the violators’ resignations. One noted that a $5,000 fine didn’t indicate an “administrative error” but a very serious breach of campaign finance law. That didn’t sit well with the “Our Minnetrista” crowd and one of them actually suggested that I should be the one to resign. Yes, the person exposing corruption should be the one to resign. You can’t make this stuff up.
To conclude, the mayor, who had previously ruled there would be no council debate (Translation: I would not be allowed to speak) gave herself the opportunity to defend herself and the two others before abruptly ending the Persons To Be Heard session.