Tuesday September 25, 2007
Conflicts of Interest Plague
Mille Lacs News Staff Writer
In the United
States of America, we are supposed to be guaranteed by our Constitution, a
representative government - by the People, of the People and for the People.
Supposed to be... But what happens when an elected government goes
awry, disregarding its responsibility to its constituency and chooses
instead to serve an alternate master, or just plain serves itself? Should
these elected officials be allowed to pursue their own best interests while
failing to protect and serve those who elected them to represent the People?
During the course
of investigating the NEXUS/Onamia City Hall affiliation, I discovered a web
of intricate relationships which can only be collectively described as an
insidious series of Conflict of Interests within the Onamia
City government. In a small town such as ours, there can commonly be
overlapping issues which generally call for a city council member to abstain
from voting on a particular motion. If ethics are applied in the case of
NEXUS, including all aspects such as the relocation of Mille Lacs Academy,
funding for the project, tax abatement, etc. etc., all members of the city
council should excuse themselves from voting due to various conflicts of
interest. These problems need to be addressed.
Members of the Onamia City Council
5. Padding Pockets - Councilman
Bill Hill Jr.
Bill Hill owns the
gas and grocery store (Super Valu) in Onamia. Nexus has stated that it
spends over $200,000 in Onamia on drugs, hardware, and gas and groceries.
This conflict of interest is obvious. If NEXUS stays in Onamia, Bill Hill
will continue to receive his lion's share of the few financial rewards NEXUS
has to offer. Not only is Bill Hill a city council member, he is also
President of the Mille Lacs Area CDC, which is developing new housing in
Onamia on the old ball field property. Centennial Estates has been
suggested as a possible choice for the flood of NEXUS employees expected to
relocate to Onamia in order to work at the new sex offender facility.
Bill Hill's son, Bill Hill III, is a real estate agent at Mille Lacs Realty.
(He wrote up the original purchase for the Grosslein/Bye property.) It
should also be noted that Darnell Allen, a NEXUS Board member, is the Vice
President of Albertsons, which is a subsidiary of Super Valu. All in all, it
looks like NEXUS is indeed a personal plus for the Hill family. But
is Bill representing the People, or is he looking out for Bill Hill? When it
comes to voting, Bill Hill should sit out - because of his many
Conflicts of Interest.
Members of the Onamia City Council Left
4. and 3. The Mille Lacs Health
System - Councilman Bob Mickus and Councilman Mark Loch
I spoke on the
telephone with Dan Reiner, Mille Lacs Health System President. He made it
very clear that he is Pro-NEXUS. He supports the proposed NEXUS compound,
even if it means placing sex offenders in a residential neighborhood, if it
will keep NEXUS from leaving the Onamia area. Along with President
Bill Hill Jr., Dan Reiner is also a member of the Mille Lacs Area CDC.
As head of our local health care, Dan Reiner is one of the most influential
and powerful businessmen in the Mille Lacs area.
Not one but TWO
Onamia City Councilmen work for Dan Reiner. Bob Mickus and Mark Loch are
employees of the Mille Lacs Health System, both working together in the
Laboratory. Bob Mickus is also a stock holder. Are they representing
the People? or are they representing the hospital? or are they representing
their boss, Dan Reiner? Who are they serving? This is a major Conflict of
Interest. When it comes to voting on any NEXUS issues, both of these
councilmen must step down and abstain.
(UPDATE: After Mayor
Larry Milton died, Bob Mickus got to be the new mayor.)
Members of the Onamia City Council Left
Longer a Quorum)
2. No Place Like Home -
Councilman Jerome Kryzer
Jerome Kryzer doesn't
work for the Mille Lacs Health Care System, doesn't own a business in town,
and like the rest of the people in Onamia, doesn't reap any benefits from
NEXUS being in our community. He's retired. Jerome's Conflict of Interest is personal. For
approximately four months out of the year, Jerome doesn't live in Onamia. This, in itself, should prohibit him from even
being on the city council. Councilman Jerome Kryzer is poorly
informed. After all of his voting on the NEXUS
project, as recently as the last city council meeting, Kryzer was
still unaware that the Mille Lacs Academy inmates are all convicted
sex offenders. There is no excuse for him. Councilman Jerome Kryzer should
not only abstain from voting, he should submit his resignation immediately.
(UPDATE: The Mille
Lacs News has since learned that Kryzer actually did work for Nexus and
therefore reaped benefits after all. Also, he did know that the inmates were
all convicted sex offenders. He just lied to the citizens.)
Member of the Onamia City Council Left
1. The Cheese Stands Alone -
Mayor Larry Milton
Milton, known for his blustering demeanor and very unmayorlike behavior -
from shouting things at citizens during city meetings like "Sit down and
shut up! I've heard enough!" to calling citizens "gutless", from spreading
false rumors, to making false accusations, from whistling through meetings,
to threatening people, even confronting citizens as they attempt to enter
City Hall - has no apparent illegal Conflicts of Interest. Since
reasons have been shown for the other councilmen to recuse themselves, Larry
could make a motion, second it himself, vote yay or nay, but all by himself
would be powerless to do any more damage to the city of Onamia. It takes a
Since I've been
researching the NEXUS/Onamia pact, I've learned much about Milton that is
cause for concern. In his position as mayor, Larry has helped his friends
Mike Uden, Kenny Apel as well as others. His son Chad benefits by having his
construction business being handed nearly all of the city work. Allegedly,
large city jobs are broken down into less costly increments in order to
avoid the necessity of open bidding by other contractors.
friends and relatives have flourished during his tenure as mayor, but in the
past 18 years, how is the town doing? What has this mayor done to
better our community? He's made a lot of clever deals, but has he made
responsible decisions? Larry's Conflict of Interest might be his propensity
towards nepotism versus any dedication to the town of Onamia and the people
he is obligated to devotedly serve through selfless leadership.
His legacy may be how
he led the invasion into Bradbury Township, sold out an entire neighborhood
of families so one his friends could obtain a liquor license, how he ignored
the voice of the people he was harming, in order to keep 94 sex offenders in
our community. What a legacy.
Mayor Larry E. Milton
is not fit to serve. He should offer his resignation. If he won't, he should be
recalled. We need smart people in our government whom we can trust. Right now, we
have nary a one in Onamia, Minnesota.
(UPDATE: We have learned that Larry Milton's son
Sheldon is indeed a convicted predatory
sex offender. How's that for a conflict of interest! Also, the Mille Lacs
Academy named its driveway after Larry.)