Selected Highlights:

MINTAHOE’S HEADQUARTER’S LEASE. In spite of citizens’ concerns, the Board went ahead and voted on a five-year lease with Mintahoe Hospitality Group for the space in the MPRB Headquarters Building that was previously occupied by Twin City Catering. The lease with the new tenant reflects a SPACE REDUCTION of 7,700 square feet and a LOSS for the MPRB of approximately $90,000 per year in rent.

When the commissioners approved the lease with Mintahoe, who already has an existing catering lease with the MPRB for the Nicollet Island Pavilion, they did so with full knowledge that Mintahoe still owes Hennepin County $67,000 in delinquent taxes, plus substantial penalties and interest.
Delinquent taxes are generally considered a red flag in business.

Citizens’ Data Practices Requests to the Park Board for evidence showing that Mintahoe has been paying its rent to the Park Board according to the terms of its lease have been ignored by Park Board staff. No information has been provided in response to Data Practices Requests for information about rent payments made by Mintahoe to the Park Board, including checks and deposit slips.

When Park Board staff will not respond to citizens’ request for relevant public data, how can taxpayers be assured that the Park Board is protecting the public’s interests?

CROWN HYDRO. During Brian Rice’s Legislative Report to the commissioners, Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom asked Brian Rice about Crown Hydro’s rumored attempts to enact special legislation to circumvent the Park Board’s authority to protect park land. Brian Rice responded by pointing out that former Vice President Walter Mondale, who is opposed to the Crown Hydro project, has called key members of the legislature and advised them that from his perspective as a former Minnesota Attorney General and member of the legislature, the action proposed by Crown Hydro was unprecedented and to oppose it.

It is important to note that when Crown Hydro came before the Park Board on two previous occasions, it was voted down.

Park Watch has learned that longtime Crown Hydro lobbyist Robert Hentges and his team have been replaced by the lobbying team of John Derus, Judy Blaseg and Nikki Carlson. Nikki Carlson is the Hennepin County DFL chair.

There definitely is some irony here. The man behind Crown Hydro is Bill Hawks, a Republican–and the man whose Lake Minnetonka estate was the site for the 2006 Michelle Bachmann fundraiser whose main attraction was former Vice President Dick Cheney. It was during this event that several protesting environmentalists were arrested as reported by the Star Tribune. The scent of money makes for strange bedfellows.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

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