Readers respond to "Lisa Knows Best"
I hope that the serious folks who keep the lights on in our Central Business District will realize that they have created an impossible situation. No wonder developers are likely to be packing their financial bags. When a person in public office loses respect for due process, the rule of law becomes the law of the jungle, and the most ruthless predator reigns supreme. That seems to have happened in Ward Seven, and I expect the damage to our municipal good name will grow exponentially until either the electorate wises up or more stern measures are undertaken to curb the feral presence in the heart of our city.
I am not a regular reader of City Pages, but my perception is certainly that you have a left-of-center political bent and so do most of your readers. I was surprised to see so much time spent on Kandiyohi in an article on Councilmember Lisa Goodman. I was even more surprised to read what seemed to be implied criticism of our efforts to develop renewable energy, create a LGBT community center, and provide housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. Let me see if I have this straight, pun intended: City Pages is critical of Kandiyohi for using its skills, experience, and influence with local policy makers to advance the causes of renewable energy and LGBT issues. Given your readers' interests, it certainly seems as if there are other targets that you could go after.
I'm not sure why an article about Councilmember Lisa Goodman used so much paper and ink to talk about me or Kandiyohi. In addition, there are several significant errors in your recent article that need to be corrected. I was a University of Minnesota graduate student working as a summer intern in Council Member Goodman's office on greening and storm water projects, not her "aide" as the article states. Kandiyohi Development Partners, the firm where I am currently a principal, is and always has been a for-profit limited liability corporation, not a nonprofit as was reported in the article.
I am reluctant to feed the beast of City Pages' scurrilous and error-prone journalism by responding to the recent article on Councilmember Lisa Goodman. However, your tortured attempt at guilt by association is full of such complete inaccuracies that it demands a response.
First, the Green Institute's bylaws require a two-thirds vote of the board to fire the executive director, and no such vote was taken in my case. After several months of conflict with some board members over the direction of the organization, I agreed to resign—four days after a meeting with the board chair. I received a severance package equal to five months of salary and my health insurance premiums for one year.
Second, no Green Institute funds were ever used for my travel expenses, either domestic or foreign; in most cases, I paid for travel costs out of my own pocket. Particularly in the case of India, where I made two one-week trips in 2001 and 2003 to work on the Godrej Green Business Centre project in Hyderabad, my expenses were paid for by a Washington, D.C.-based consultant who had a contract through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Finally, when I left the Green Institute in early 2005, all of its mortgage and tax payments had been made on time and we had eight consecutive years of clean financial audits from an independent auditing firm. And in my nine years with the Green Institute, I had been twice elected by my peers to serve as treasurer of other major nonprofit organizations. After nearly five years, when will Corey Brinkema and the members of the Green Institute board who continued to serve after I left stop blaming me and take responsibility for running the organization into the ground?
As a key player and very visible presence in the neighborhood opposition that toppled Wayzata developer Brad Hoyt's massive glass tower proposed for Loring Hill (Parc Centrale), I would have expected to be interviewed for the lengthy article written by Erin Carlyle regarding Minneapolis City Councilmember Lisa Goodman, her representation of Ward Seven, and her involvement with Hoyt's ill-fated project. But then again, my story would not have jibed with the clear bias of the writer's piece.
Though I spent countless hours phoning neighbors, knocking on doors, and canvassing the Loring Park neighborhood to rally opposition to Hoyt's project, I never received nor witnessed any help organizing the neighborhood from Lisa Goodman, as the article alleges. As a representative of my neighborhood at a City Council committee hearing on Hoyt's proposal, I witnessed firsthand criticism of my council member from the Wayzata developer that would foreshadow his lawsuit. He accused Lisa Goodman of listening to the public rather than doing what he, of course, thought was best for the city—to allow him to build his 21-story glass tower (he did not mention the approximately $23 million in profit he expected to reap from the building at the time). It struck my neighbors and I back then (as it does now) as the most ridiculous of arguments, and Goodman responded in kind—of course she listens to her constituents.
I agree with Erin Carlyle: "Lisa Knows Best," because her decisions are based on the will of the people she represents.
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