Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Failed Promise of the Legacy Amendment.

In 2008, the Legacy Constitutional Amendment was placed on the ballot by the Legislature to bring the voters of Minnesota closer to the democratic process by allowing them to vote on something that would affect their pocketbooks and their communities.  The majority of Minnesotans said yes.

It was promised that if Minnesotans supported the Amendment they would be able to participate in the implementation of the Amendment by having information readily accessible to them to see where their money is going and to whom, to play oversight.  Something rarely seen to have people participate in direct democracy and then to directly follow the implementation of what they voted on.

The promise has fallen short.

There seems to have taken hold an obscurity of information on the Legacy monies.  Agencies such as Department of Natural Resources, Department of Administration, Metropolitan Council, and some others who administer the funds to various entities throughout the state do not mention their role in Legacy on their main web page.  There is very little information on agency sites as to who has been rejected for various programs.  Listing of award winners, such as the Minnesota States Arts Board does, but no data as to what the money specifically went for.

There is no mention, for example, the background of the people who sit on the Historic Resources Advisory Committee who help make recommendations where Minnesota Historical Society Legacy monies go.  This is also true for other entities.

I have highlighted some examples.  There are others, but that is for another time.  There is hope that the promise can be achieved, but it will take a lot of work by us.

The words, accountability and transparency have to be put in action.  Only then, will the people of Minnesota truly have vigilant oversight of the Legacy Amendment.


  1. Rich -

    I like your analysis somewhat. I think it would be more fair to say some of it has failed while others of it have succeeded. Look, for example, to the the Clean Water money or the Habitat money. Each has a citizen's council of experts as oversight/advisory. In the case of the habitat money, the Lessard-Sams Council is the most transparent entity I've seen in government. Each member has to score each proposed project on various merit rankings and each member's ratings are made available to the public. Where else is that transparency, honesty and meritocracy rewarded in Govt.?

  2. Thanks, John for your comments. Good points you make. Rich Neumeister