Yeah, Chucky’s baaaaaack!  And if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck…

Chuck Michael is back and he has been for a while on this Zip Rail project.  And it’s a small world, particularly in this public policy and infrastructure area.

Turns out it’s much smaller, he’s been working a couple of sides of this project, Olmsted County and apparently the North American High Speed Rail Group, meeting with officials in “other states.”  And they’ve been to Washington, together, and have been lobbying hard in Minnesota, both Olmsted County and NAHSR:

Zip Rail backers make their case in Washington, D.C.

And look how he’s represented for the conference, Twin Cities HSR Passenger Corridor, on which that article above was based, where an Olmsted County representative and a NAHSR rep are also on the bill:

U.S. High Speed Rail Conference

A project from Las Vegas to LA was waved around as competition to this Metro – Rochester Zip Rail, as in a threat of “build Zip Rail and if not we’ll go to Vegas,” and if so, doesn’t that “competition” mean it’s a conflict, and not working in the interests of Olmsted County?  Or is it that Michael went “out of state” as in to Washington?  It doesn’t say what project he was working on “out of state,” whether it was Zip Rail or something else.  That should be disclosed.

But big picture, I don’t see this as much as a “conflict” as an “reporting” issue, because based on the conference presentation above, their lobbying together, because I’d guess the parties’ interests regarding Zip Rail, the positions/interests of Olmsted County and NAHSR are pretty much the same, though Olmsted County should have more of a sense of working in the public interest.  THAT is a problem, and it’s Olmsted County’s problem and the voters there should address this!

More of an issue is declaration of those interests and where and how much money is devoted to pushing those interests.  Who’s registered with Campaign Finance Board?  Chuck Michael is not registered as a lobbyist under any entity.  Nada…   The essence of his job is lobbying, in Minnesota and nationally, and he’s not listed with the Campaign Finance Board.  Not Olmsted County, and not North American High Speed Rail.   I think it’s time Chuck Michael and the associations he’s working for on this project register and disclose.

Anyone that had anything to do with Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, as Chuck Michael did, needs high scrutiny.


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