Sunday, April 17, 2011

Unfizzling the Failed Promise of The Legacy Amendment

Several months ago I was critical on the failure of government entities to show more transparency and accountability as to how the Legacy Amendment was being implemented.  The posting was based on an informal survey I did, discussions I had with people, and my observations.  A lot as changed since then.

First of all, a person has taken a keen interest in accountability and transparency of how the Legacy monies are being spent, Representative Dean Urdahl, Chair of House Legacy Funding Division.  He took the initiative to introduce a bill, HF1061, the bill has grown from one page to many because it has been amended to include the Legacy monies bill.  Article 5 of the bill is where my eye is on.

Article 5 includes the original part of HF1061, but also includes other proposals to bring sunshine and answerability to the Legacy process. That section does several things:

1.Sets up a uniform reporting process for how the Legacy Funds are being expended and meeting the requirements set by law.

2.To clearly report the agencies and entities acting as fiscal agents or administers the funds.

3.Names, qualifications, and any potential conflict of interest of people who are responsible for the governing body and grant making advisory boards who are involved in awarding Legacy grants
4.To place on the agency or entity that is involved in receiving or administering Legacy Funds the Minnesota Legacy logo on their homepage of their website.

5.The Legacy logo is then linked to the Minnesota Legislature Legacy Website and also specific contact information for that agency or entity if a person wants detailed data of Legacy involvement such as for example, specific proposal documents and proposals that were denied.

Since a hearing took place last week and will continue after the Legislature comes back from its break it is important for us to continue to monitor and involve ourselves how Article 5 is developed.  No companion bill has been introduced on the Senate side.  I have spoken with Senator Ingebrigtsen, Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources, he stated he's for accountability and transparency of the Legacy Funds.

The post which I originally did on the Legacy Funds brought some comments in person and to the posting.  One comment was by John Curry who stated there is transparency for the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council which recommends millions of dollars.  I also noted to Legislators that the Minnesota Historical Society is an example of how Legacy dollars are being spent.

In a post I responded to conflict of interest issue reported by the Star Tribune with Lessard-Sams. I got feedback on how it is not transparent enough for the public to oversee possible conflicts of interests with the administration and granting of Legacy Funds.

The Minnesota Legislature gave us the great opportunity to vote on an amendment to help fund initiatives to  make our state a greater place for us to live culturally, environmentally, and to improve upon our natural resources.  Over the life of the amendment there will be at least $5 billion or more for the effort.

For the people to keep track of who, what, where, and when of the Legacy Funds is an important duty and responsibility we look to ourselves to do.  No government can do anything except through ourselves.

HF1061 provides basic tools for us to bring into action the words, accountability and transparency, then there will be the beginning of truly vigilant oversight of the Legacy Amendment.


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