Daily Reformer: Warsame leaving the council? Trouble at DHS

January 21, 2020 11:01 pm

Good afternoon!

Toddler got a double ear infection so you’re getting your Daily Reformer during his nap. Let it be an epic nap!

The mess gets messier: Dept. of Human Services CFO Alexandra Kotze is leaving to become CFO of Ramsey County. Last day Feb. 7. 

Recall this Star Tribune story from November

“The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) violated state law more than 200 times over the past year with $52 million in contracts and grant commitments to vendors, Indian bands and other state government agencies without proper documentation, according to records obtained by the Star Tribune …. ‘We broke the law,’ DHS Chief Financial Officer Alexandra Kotze wrote in an April e-mail, responding to one internal report that detailed more than $300,000 in violations. ‘We need to be able to explain internally and to the [Department of Administration] how we will prevent this in the future.’ “Taken together, the records suggest a pattern of financial mismanagement that reaches well beyond the handful of high-profile cases…”

Meanwhile, an internal audit by DHS found “soft oversight of grant contracts for chemical dependency and mental health services, but no misspending of funds.” 

Newsy day all around including at the Reformer: Max Nesterak reports Minneapolis Council Member Abdi Warsame is applying for the job to head up the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Remember that Warsame endorsed Mayor Jacob Frey against the incumbent, a major risk. 

Rilyn Eischens with a good public health story about how the latest phase in the opioid epidemic is fentanyl mixed with stimulants like coke and meth. She also reports that we lost to Wisconsin (boo!) in Census participation in 2010. Let’s go people, we can’t lose to them. (And it might cost us a House seat if we don’t get everyone counted.)

Rep. Dean Phillips has a commentary for us on the campaign finance mess in Washington — members of Congress spend between 20-30 hours per week dialing for cash. Gross.

Sure, why not? St. Paul Mayor Carter going for a regressive sales tax increase

Second Amendment sanctuary coming to Sherburne County, Stephen Montemayor reports. Here’s The Clash: “I Fought the Law….”

Has Speaker Nancy Pelosi ever so gently stepped on the scale for VP Joe Biden? A GOP source tells me there’s some chatter among congressional GOPers that Pelosi timed the delivery of the impeachment articles to the Iowa caucus, forcing all the senators in the race to return to Washington during the final stretch run and giving Biden more unfettered coverage. 

Pelosi’s public image has undergone quite the transformation. She was the object of revulsion among Republicans and painted as the beneficiary of nepotism — she comes from a prominent Democratic family and married a wealthy man. I knew something had changed in GOP perceptions of Pelosi when my Republican father said sometime last year, “She’s pretty shrewd.” 

On the other hand, people in politics often imagine Machiavellian behavior when there isn’t, so this timing to help Biden could just be someone’s imagination.

On the one hand, Phish drummer Jon Fishman’s endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders is certainly persuasive, but then Sanders calls them “the Phish.” 

“You all know the Phish. A good Vermont band.”

I promise you readers I will not let this incident cloud my objectivity. (If you’re confused, it’s just Phish, not the Phish.)  H/t John Rouleau. 

The 60a race is today. This one could be decided by a handful of votes. 

H/t Future Reformer contributor Sally Jo Sorensen, Hultgren Farms — which appeared in Sunday’s big Star Tribune takeout on farmers and Trump — have been major recipients of Trump’s trade subsidies. (Environmental Working Group’s farm subsidy database is a great resource, fyi.)

Gov. Tim Walz this morning was at “an educational session for members of the State Board of Investment.” ??? At 1, he announced grant awards to develop rural broadband infrastructure.

And later he interviewed judicial candidates. 

In Jill Lepore’s “These Truths,” today we are at the Constitutional Convention, over which 55 year old George Washington presided. He was still striking at that age, Lepore notes, other than his teeth, which were dentures made from a combination of ivory and nine teeth pulled from the mouths of his slaves. Lepore brilliantly juxtaposes a menacing fact like that with the nation’s aspirations, as when she quotes Madison discussing at the convention who should be allowed to choose the nation’s representatives: 

“Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names more than the humble sons of unpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of the People of the United States.” 

Have a nice evening all! JPC

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children