As Jim Bernstein points out, it is very difficult to distinguish
between perceived and actual conflict of interest for public
officials.  Therefore, he makes the case for voluntary
recusal/abstention for even perceived conflicts of interest of City
Council members.

Let's take the example of this upcoming Zoning and Planning Committee
vote on Klodt's Hiawatha Flats proposal.

2005 campaign contributions from Paul and/or Kevin Klodt or
individuals employed by Klodt contractors:

Ward 1  Ostrow -$600
Ward 3  Samuels - $300
Ward 4  Johnson - $300
Ward 5  Johnson Lee - $300
Ward 7  Goodman - $300
Ward 8  Lilligren - $600
Ward 12 Colvin Roy - $5,850

(Next month, CM-elect Hofstede will join the list of CMs that received
contributions from Klodt. If McLaughlin, Hauser and Lisa McDonald had
been elected Mayor or Council Members they'd be on the list, too.)

In summary, seven of the thirteen sitting Council Members accepted
contributions from the Klodt's or individuals employed by their

Under Jim Bernstein's guidelines, only 2 Council members on the Zoning
and Planning Committee would be eligible to vote regarding Hiawatha
Flats.  When it reaches the full council, only 5 members would be

In addition, Klodt has retained Faegre & Benson to provide lobbying
services.  Faegre & Benson assigned newly-hired Carol Lansing of its
real estate group to support Klodt's Hiawatha Flats battle.  Before
joining Faegre & Benson in March, Lansing was the Assistant City
Attorney for Mpls working closely with Council members on matters
related to zoning, land use planning and site plan approvals.

Faegre & Benson itself if a prolific contributor through its Govt Fund
political fund.  At least six current and new CMs (Samuels, Johnson,
Schiff, Benson, Hodges and Hofstede) received the maximum allowed
contribution of $300 each.

Then, of course, there is the $10,000 contribution from Paul Klodt to
People for Independent Parks that influenced the Kummer-Stone race and
was the subject of the City Pages expose.

This is why moving in the direction of public financing of campaigns
makes the most sense.

Sonja Dahl
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