Late last month, Minnesota Lawyer's Kevin Featherly reported in Bar Buzz: Daudt to House: No per diem for you!:
In a recent letter to House members, Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that while the Legislature’s budget remains in legal limbo, lawmakers will receive no per diem allowances.
In addition, he said, as of Oct. 6 House members will receive no reimbursements for mileage or business travel, communication, out-of-state travel not previously approved by the speaker or travel within their districts. Also, he said, committee budget spending is suspended.
Daudt blamed the policy change on the loss of the House’s ongoing appropriation for the coming fiscal year. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s entire 2018-19 budget in late May.
While his veto was found unconstitutional by Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge John H. Guthmann on July 19, the Supreme Court ruled that Dayton had legally used the veto. However, it declined in its Sept. 8 order to rule on the spending impasse and instead sent the parties to mediation—which quickly collapsed. The budgetary part of their drama remains unresolved. . . .
Now we read in Minnesota Public Radio's coverage by Tim Pugmire of the sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, House hires firm to investigate Cornish allegations:
The Minnesota House Tuesday hired a St. Paul company called NeuVest to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations against Rep. Tony Cornish.
Patrick McCormack, the director of the nonpartisan House Research Department, said in a statement that NeuVest will conduct a neutral and thorough investigation of the allegations.
The firm specializes in workplace issues. McCormick said NeuVest uses experienced, licensed attorneys and that Margaret Westin of NeuVest will be the primary investigator. . . .
The contract shows that the House will pay NeuVest $275 per hour for its work. It's unclear how long the independent investigation will take or how much it will cost.
Bluestem hopes it's not as much as the Shakopee public schools paid to investigate matters that led to Former Shakopee schools superintendent [being] charged with theft, embezzlement, as the Star Tribune reported on Tuesday.
NeuVest is very, very good at what the firm does, but it's not cheap, as an unrelated recent story shows.
The Shakopee Valley News reported in August in NeuVest school report is out, but mostly blacked out:
The company hires attorneys to do investigations, training and coaching, at an hourly rate of $275. At the time NeuVest was hired, School Board Chairman Scott Swanson said he had no idea how much the investigation would cost. Turns out, it cost $56,734. . . .
Phil Stumpe, a parent, member of Concerned Citizens of Shakopee and one of many Shakopee citizens who has closely monitored the budget shortfall and resulting fallout, said the amount of information redacted from the report “has the appearance of a continued pattern of non-transparency.” He questions the need for the report, given that Thompson resigned, the police and FBI are investigating and the information was already available to the school board.
“The $275 per hour on a 364 page report could have been used in a more useful manner if the school board had asked more questions instead of blindly accepting or approving recommendations, stopped socializing with the superintendent and held the superintendent accountable with checks and balances,” he said, referring to employee advice in the report. . . .
We're musing along similar lines. Perhaps if Representative Cornish possessed the self-control to keep news of his raging boners to himself while in the workplace, Daudt and the Minnesota House wouldn't have to be searching for spare change under the couch cushions to pay this firm at a time when reps can't get their cable and internet paid.
Bluestem agrees with the Star Tribune on this one in that Rep. Tony Cornish should also leave the Minnesota Legislature:
. . .this is not a criminal matter. Rather, what’s at stake in these instances are the preservation of public trust in an institution of authority and every district’s right to effective representation within that institution. The accusations against these two lawmakers are backed by enough credible evidence to have hobbled their effectiveness. Lawmaking is a relationship-based activity. A reputation for making repeated and unwanted sexual advances is toxic to the working relationships with both men and women that legislators need in order to represent their districts well.
Schoen has been in office for more than four years; Cornish, for nearly 15. That’s long enough for both of them to know that they can’t soon recover the trust that effective legislative service requires. They should allow their districts’ voters to choose someone who can.
The House is broke. Cornish should head home.
Photo: Rep. Tony Cornish.
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