Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland has made some serious errors in judgement while sitting on the Apple Valley City Council, including the famous waterpark incident and using taxpayer funded city resources for her 2010 campaign. While Mayor Mary seems to have learned a few things in the last two years, she still hasn’t figured out how to keep herself from making easily avoided mistakes. Most recently, she voted in favor of awarding a city contract to her former employer proposed just days after she left the company.
Mayor Mary previously worked for executive search company, Brimeyer Fursman, as VP of Public Relation from December 1, 2010 through November 30, 2011. On February 23, 2012 the Apple Valley City Council, including Mayor Mary, voted to utilize Brimeyer Fursman to conduct the search for Apple Valley’s next Chief of Police.
PRESENT: Mayor Hamann-Roland; Councilmembers Goodwin, Grendahl, and Hooppaw.
ABSENT: Councilmember Bergman.
MOTION: of Hooppaw, seconded by Goodwin, approving the proposal from Brimeyer Fursman for recruitment of Police Chief, for Phase I and II of the proposal dated December 8, 2011, at a cost not to exceed $12,000.00 plus expenses. Ayes – 4 – Nays – 0.
Now, while there was nothing legally wrong with what Mary Hamann-Roland did, it was a clear violation of standard ethical procedure for elected officials. She should have recused herself from the vote to eliminate her obvious conflict of interest given she resigned from Brimeyer-Fursman less than 10 days before the firm’s proposal was submitted to the City of Apple Valley. There’s little doubt that her firm was in the process of drafting a proposal while she was still in its employment. Additionally, the City Clerk noted, in an e-mail to Lazy Lightning on July 27, 2012, no other companies were considered for the task of recruiting a new Police Chief and the final decision was “based on prior favorable experience with the firm.”
37 of 50 states, including Minnesota, have legislation prohibiting state legislators from registering as lobbyists within a certain length of time from retiring from office (usually one to two years). While elected officials at the city level often hold full-time jobs in the private sector, they are expected to recuse themselves from votes in which an obvious conflict of interest exists. Even Burnsville Councilmember Dan Gustafson recently recused himself from a vote that had a direct impact on his business.
Do you think Mayor Mary should have recused herself from the vote even though she resigned prior to the official submission of the proposal by her former employer? Should laws which exist to avoid this sort of potential impropriety at the state level be extended to the local level? Whatever you have to say about this one, go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.