The story started on Friday, with Charley Shaw's dramatically-titled article, Sand storm heads toward Capitol, in which readers learned that Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan, a lobbyist by profession, had been hired by the new Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, a part of the well-established Aggregate & Ready Mix Association of Minnesota.
Bluestem posted something Tuesday evening, and the Strib was out with a short piece.
By Wednesday, Tony Kennedy, the Star Tribune's frac sand mining beat reporter, had reported in Red Wing's mayor gets second job with frac sand lobbying group:
. . . Red Wing City Council President Lisa Bayley, a lawyer, said she has received many "complaints, questions and concerns'' from residents about the mayor's new job as a paid advocate for an industry that is at the forefront of local ferment. . . .
. . .Egan's decision also occurs as debate rages up and down the Mississippi River corridor over the sand boom. In the past four years, more than 100 mines and processing facilities have been permitted in Wisconsin and Minnesota in a rush largely controlled by local units of government.
Bayley said the council will discuss the matter Monday at a regularly scheduled meeting.
"If the facts are as we think they are, it could prove to be a very serious matter,'' she said, declining to elaborate.
Later on Wednesday, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported Red Wing mayor to lobby for silica sand industry, a story which shared additional outrage by Red Wing area residents.
Dennis Egan, the City Council and the citizens of Red Wing certainly have some things to work out.
Egan might decide that being Mayor of Fracsandville isn't worth the wages for the consternation he's causing those who elected him Mayor of Red Wing--and he could resign as Executive Director of MISC.
A third option: take the sand and run, resigning as Red Wing mayor.
It might be that everything is resolved and the city attorney returns an opinion that all is a-okay, and Red Wing's voters agree.
But, if the council discovers cause for removal--or the residents say enough is enough--what options remain?
The City of Red Wing charter is online, and that document outlines the process for removal and recall.
Remain, Removal or Recall?
Red Wing's City Charter is online here. It's possible that the Red City Council could remove the mayor from office on a two-thirds vote if it found cause after following the process in the city charter:
Section 2.05 Removal
Every elected officer may be removed from this office by vote of two-thirds of the City Council, provided that such official shall not be removed except for cause, after having been furnished with a written statement of the reasons therefore and after being given a reasonable opportunity to be heard in his/her defense. The City Council shall fix a date for a hearing on such charges not less than ten (10) days after notice to the accused officeholder and shall have authority to compel the attendance of witnesses and to request any necessary records and papers. In the event the office holder neglects to appear to answer the charges or the City Council finds that the charges are sustained and provide
sufficient cause for removal, it may, by two-thirds vote, declare the office vacant. Nothing contained inthis section shall preclude the Council from establishing by ordinance criteria whereby an elected official who is absent from a prescribed number of meetings is deemed to have resigned.
If Red Wing remains angered, Egan doesn't quit his new job, resign as mayor or the council doesn't remove him, citzens still have recourse to a recall election if they're not happy with Egan's arrangements.
The City Charter allows for recall in Chapter 6. Here are the relevant sections about recall committees and petitions:
Section 6.13 The Recall Any five registered voters may form themselves into a committee for the purpose of bringing about the recall of any elected officer of the City. In the case of the Mayor and Council Member At Large, the committee may be composed of registered voters from any ward of the City. In the case of all other Council Members the committee shall consist of registered voters from the ward or wards in which said Council Member is elected. The committee shall certify to the clerical officer the name of the officer whose removal is sought, a statement of the grounds for removal in not more than 250 words, and their intention to bring about this recall. A copy of this certification shall be attached to each signature paper, and no signature paper shall be put into circulation previous to such certification.
Section 6.14 Recall Petitions The petition for the recall of any official shall consist of a certificate identical with that filed with the clerical officer together with all the signature papers and affidavits thereto attached. The recall petition shall be in a form prescribed by and available from the clerical officer.
Section 6.15 Filing of Petition Within thirty (30) days after the filing of the original certificate, the committee shall file the completed petition in the office of the clerical officer. The clerical officer shall examine the petition within five (5) days, and if he/she finds it irregular in any way, or finds that in the case of Council Members elected by ward or wards that petitioners are not registered in the ward or wards said Council Member is elected from, or finds that the number of signers is less than twenty percent (20%) of the registered voters of the City or of the ward or wards said Council Member is elected from, he/she shall so notify the committee. The committee shall then be given ten (10) days in which to file additional signature papers and to correct the petition in all other respects, but they may not change the statement of the grounds upon which the recall is sought. If at the end of that time the clerical officer finds the petition still insufficient or irregular, he/she shall notify the committee to that effect and shall file the petition in his/her office. No further action shall be taken thereon. The final finding of the insufficiency or irregularity of a petition shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose.
So, how many registered voters are there in Red Wing, Minnesota? According to the election results for the City of Red Wing in the 2012 general election, that's 9443 voters as of 7AM on Election Day (pdf here: RedWingVoters 2012).
Twenty percent of the registered voter works out to 1888.6 people--or about 1900 people. Note that these folks can't be any old person who signs a petition, or even any resident of Red Wing. They must be registered voters.
Granted, Minnesotans can register with ease, but the bar is fairly high here. How high is the outrage factor for Red Wing's voters? Egan received 5804 votes cast in the mayor's race, or 73.52 percent. The voters didn't know--and it's probable that he didn't know--that he'd be starting a new job as Executive Director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council on February 1, 2013.
Screenshot: Dennis Egan's Facebook page on Tuesday, February 5. Note that he's "from" Red Wing but "lives" in St. Paul. What sort of message is that from a mayor.
If you enjoyed reading this post, consider giving a donation via paypal: