Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dan Kenney serves the taxpayers...or the Twins?

By Dann Dobson
No Stadium Tax Coalition

Not unexpectedly, the new Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which will oversee the construction of the new Twins Stadium, appointed Dan Kenney as the first Executive Director, Friday at a salary of $110,000.

This is like handing the keys to the Hen House to the fox.

For those who do not recall, in February Mr. Kenney posted in this group [E-Democracy.org Minneapolis Issues Forum] that there was no requirement for a referendum for a sales tax increase in Hennepin County under state law and posted his message as an average citizen, simply signing his post, "Dan Kenney Ward 11".

Kenney did not disclose or reveal that he was Commissioner Mike Opat's aide, for the past ten years, that he was a member of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, nor that he had and Opat had been secretly negotiating with the Twins for over 6 months. At that time I raised the question about Mr. Kinney's potential conflicts of interest.

"It seems to me that if Mr. Kenney is going to try and get the Twins out of the Dome and into a new stadium, (largely at taxpayer expense), he should NOT be serving on the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission."

As a part of the discussion about Mr. Kinney and his potential conflict of interest, I predicted "I would wager if the Twins stadium bill passes, Mr. Kenney has a cushy job waiting for him with the new Stadium Commission or with the Twins."

I have written repeatedly how the enabling legislation is so poorly written, putting all of the "infrastructure costs" onto Hennepin County taxpayers and infrastructure is defined as anything other than the actual "ballpark", so land costs, environmental remediation, decks across I-394, rail line extensions, landscaping and anything else in the ballpark district will be paid by Hennepin County taxpayers and not the Twins.

Mr. Kinney thus far has shown himself to be far more interested in what is best for the Twins and himself and not the taxpayers of Hennepin County. With Kinney as executive director of the new Minnesota Ballpark Authority, (which was appointed by the 4 male members of the Hennepin County Board who did not want Hennepin County taxpayers to vote on this project), I do not see any party who will protect the interests of Hennepin County taxpayers.

The Ballpark Authority could have appointed someone with a history and record of vigorous fiscal responsibility. They failed to do so. Instead they appointed someone who has been disingenuous when debating this project, which does not bode well for the future.


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