As you know, I recently interviewed both Mayor Mary and opponent Ryan Moe about their campaigns for Mayor of Apple Valley. While I do not support either candidate and will be voting for “Mickey Mouse” again this year, I must admit that I was absolutely appalled at how Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland chose to use Apple Valley City Staff and City resources to conduct her campaign business. This is certainly something which Apple Valley taxpayers should not be supporting financially and which should lead to an audit of Mayor Mary’s campaign practices using city resources.
I called Mayor Mary on August 25th and asked her if she’d be interested in answering questions related to her campaign. On August 27th, Mayor Mary called me back and informed me that she would look over my questions and I should then send them along to email@example.com. I took the information down and told her I would get around to it soon while my head spun that the Mayor of Apple Valley was suggesting I contact her via the city’s own e-mail address.
Now, I have interviewed only two other currently sitting candidates for councils in the South Metro and both of those Burnsville councilmembers utilized either personal e-mail addresses or addresses tied to their campaign. Neither had me contact them through their official Burnsville e-mail accounts presumably because that could be misconstrued as using city resources to conduct a campaign. In addition to those two interviews, I contacted several other South Metro cities (Eagan, Farmington, Lakeville, Rosemount) and asked them about staff involvement with political campaigns and guess what I found out? Not one permits city staff to work on campaigns on city time or using city resources. Two of the cities (Eagan and Rosemount) both defer to State Statute 211B.09 which reads:
211B.09 PROHIBITED PUBLIC EMPLOYEE ACTIVITIES.
An employee or official of the state or of a political subdivision may not use official authority or influence to compel a person to apply for membership in or become a member of a political organization, to pay or promise to pay a political contribution, or to take part in political activity. A political subdivision may not impose or enforce additional limitations on the political activities of its employees.
But back to Apple Valley’s Mayor Mary. On September 3rd I received the following e-mail from Charles Grawe the Assistant City Administrator for Apple Valley:
from : Grawe, Charles [CGrawe@ci.apple-valley.mn.us]
to: Bill Roehl [firstname.lastname@example.org]
date: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 4:21 PM
subject: Questions for Mayoral Candidates
The Mayor asked that I contact you to let you know she has not received the questions for the mayoral candidates. From a previous conversation with you, she believed she would be receiving the questions for completion by Labor Day. She expressed concern that as she does not have the questions, she would not be able to make the Labor Day deadline originally discussed.
Please feel free to forward the questions to this e-mail box when they are ready and I will make sure she receives them.
Thanks for your assistance.
Assistant City Administrator
City of Apple Valley
7100 West 147th Street
Apple Valley, MN 55124
According to Apple Valley’s City Clerk, the email@example.com e-mail address is manned by the Assistant City Administrator and he is the one responsible for disseminating e-mails received via that address. While surprising that such a menial administrative task should be shouldered by a position commanding $98,604 a year it is even more surprising that he has been roped into handling the mayor’s campaign e-mails via taxpayer funded resources such as his city e-mail address and/or firstname.lastname@example.org–something which at least four other nearby cities forbid. While this is apparently common practice for Apple Valley, not one single person I have talked to believes that Mayor Mary or any member of Apple Valley City Staff, on their own time or not, should be utilizing city resources to conduct campaign business of any kind.
It is clear that Mayor Mary is using taxpayer funds in an inappropriate manner for her campaign and as such an audit of her actions over the last 11 years needs to be done to inform the public of her actions. She has a responsibility to be fiscally responsible, use common sense, and act in a manner which is above board. For someone who is so proud of all the hard work she does to “save” taxpayer dollars by “going green”, it would only make sense that she should have her network of supporters do the dirty work for her campaign, like handle her own personal campaign e-mail instead of having any Apple Valley City Staff member do it for her at great taxpayer expense using taxpayer funded systems. In addition the City of Apple Valley needs to immediately correct this action and ensure that any and all city employees are not using staff time or city resources to conduct campaign business for the mayor or councilmembers.
What do you think about Mayor Mary’s clear misuse of Apple Valley City Staff and City owned property? Do you think that it’s right for her to be utilizing the services of the Assistant City Administrator and a city e-mail address for her campaign when it is clearly not permitted by so many other cities? Do you believe that even if the Assistant Administrator was doing this on his own time that he should have been permitted to use a city e-mail address to do so? Whatever you have to say about Mayor Mary and her choice to utilize city staff and services to conduct her campaign business please comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.