YES!!!  Making progress today on two fronts in the frac sand world here in Red Wing and in Goodhue County!!  First, Mayor Egan has announced he WILL resign, but he hasn’t yet.  Second, there’s a draft bill circulating that regulates sand mining and which mandates an EIS, and I’ll post a more detailed review of that soon.

But the problem here is that Dennis Egan shouldn’t wait for a month to resign — Egan should resign NOW!  Way down at the bottom of this is a good editorial from Richard Johnson, a former County Attorney, who was ejected from the Council meeting.  He was outraged at the Council’s lack of a backbone, understandably!  (I missed the meeting, couldn’t be there, was on the train almost to L.A. then, and trains have to be booked 6 months in advance to get a decent price.)  The week of hasty communications before the Council meeting seems to have been worthwhile, seems to have been heard.  It took a while, though, for them to get wound up.  There are a lot of us here in town utterly disgusted by Egan’s lack of judgment and is inability to see that it’s a problem.  Seems that the Council and us voters pushed hard enough to make it impossible for him to continue.  His statements are still statements of denial, more evidence of the depth of his cluelessness (I’m struggling for words here!).

Let’s hope this resignation plan isn’t an April Fools gag. Red Wing City Council, GET IT IN WRITING!

The story in the paper is more extensive than the online version, CLICK HERE FOR PDF OF STORY IN REPUBLICAN EAGLE, and here’s what’s on-line:

Egan will leave mayoral post

Mayor Dennis Egan will resign by April 1.

He made his decision public today, 12 days after the Red Wing City Council voted to have an independent investigator look into Egan’s involvement with the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.

Egan has maintained that there was no conflict of interest in holding both positions. The public conflict, however, proved another matter.

He reiterated Friday that he’s pleased city attorney Jay Squires issued an opinion that no legal conflict of interest exists at this time.

“Yet, I believe that a mayor must live to a higher standard than just avoiding conflicts of interest,” Egan said. “The position of mayor is one of public service and, if a mayor’s activities serve as a distraction or roadblock for the city, the public is not well-served. The last few weeks have demonstrated that my new position can serve as a distraction to the city and my family.”

Meanwhile, there’s a frac sand mining bill in the works, here’s the draft as I received it:


There are some issues with this, particularly regarding local control.  This bill doesn’t do nearly enough to preserve the rights of local governments to do set their own more stringent regulations, it allows it but needs to clearly state that the local more stringent regulations are controlling — if not we’re in the same mess we wound up in on the Goodhue Wind project.  Also, it sets a one year limit on the EIS preparation time, and from the transmission projects I’ve worked on, it may well take more than that.  It does not include Chisago and Washington Counties…  But this is a draft, there’s plenty of time to work on it.  More on that in a bit.

And more good news — soon to be ousted Mayor Egan is in the Rochester Post Bulletin and the STrib too:

The embattled mayor of Red Wing, Minn., has decided to resign in the face of a City Council investigation and a recall petition drive by citizens who wanted to oust him for taking a second job as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, a lobbyist group for the frac sand industry.

Dennis Egan, who earns a living as a professional lobbyist and political consultant, had staunchly defended his right to continue as mayor while strategizing, lobbying and speaking for an industry that has caused an uproar throughout southeastern Minnesota with its fast-moving expansion efforts. He maintained that he had no conflict of interest that couldn’t by managed by recusing himself from all frac sand matters in the city.

Red Wing City Council Member Peggy Rehder confirmed Saturday that Egan has informed the city that he will resign. The council will now drop its initiative to investigate his contractual relationship with the sand council and begin Monday to set the parameters for a special election to replace him, she said.

“I think it is the right decision,” Rehder said. “I just think it is unfortunate that it took this long.”

Egan could not be reached for comment.

The mayor, Red Wing’s former Chamber of Commerce president, had come under direct pressure from several City Council members to resign and a group of citizens led by Red Wing resident Dale Hanson, a meditation instructor, vowed to carry out a petition drive for a recall vote.

“I am grateful that Mayor Dennis Egan will resign his position as the Mayor of Red wing as of April 1,” Hanson said Saturday.

Red Wing City Attorney Jay Squires advised the City Council two weeks ago that Egan did not have a legal conflict of interest under Minnesota statute. But City Council President Lisa Bayley called the dual employment a “pretty massive inherent conflict” that had quickly taken a negative toll on the city’s image and threatened to hurt economic development in the river town.

And  in the Post Bulletin too.  We should send Egan the bill for the special election, eh?

Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan to step down April 1

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013 4:08 pm

RED WING — Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan has announced his intention to resign from office by April 1 after encountering controversy when he became executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council in January.

Lisa Bayley, Red Wing City Council president, said she talked briefly with Egan by phone Friday evening when he informed her that he would step down as mayor to continue to lead the lobbyist group. The matter is expected to be discussed at Monday’s council meeting, where written notification of that decision may be filed. Egan, who has been a lobbyist for 15 years and runs his his own company, did not immediately return phone calls Saturday.

Three city council members asked Egan to resign at a Feb. 11 meeting, but Egan refused to pick between the two positions that night. Jay Squires, the city attorney, issued a written opinion that said a legal conflict of interest did not currently exist.

Red Wing approved a new silica sand ordinance in October, signed by Egan, that essentially prohibits the industry from operating within city limits. However, the city still sent a letter to the Minnesota Legislature earlier this month supporting a state-wide generic environmental impact statement and moratorium. Egan recused himself from those discussions.

Counties and townships in southeastern Minnesota have struggled with the issue as new mining proposals have rolled in over the past two years, and more than a dozen opposition groups have sprung up based primarily on health and environmental concerns.

Silica legislation

A Minnesota Senate committee took testimony on silica sand mining this past week and a bill dealing with silica sand mining’s impact on communities is expected to be introduced on Monday.

The bill from Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, would require the state of Minnesota to study the environmental impact of silica sand mining, as well as provide technical assistance to local governments to deal with the issue. Schmit’s bill, which is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, would allow local governments to collect taxes to deal with the impact and the bill would establish the Southern Minnesota Silica Sand Board.

The group Egan is leading, Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, is comprised of six companies with silica-related business interests in the state, including a company seeking to build a facility in St. Charles. They’ve hired lobbyists to take part in the state’s ongoing discussion.

Egan’s involvement

The Red Wing City Council approved two measures earlier this month that would take a closer examination of Egan’s involvement in that process. Monday’s agenda includes a request for $7,000 to hire an independent investigator to examine the facts. The city is also in the process of requesting a legal opinion from the Minnesota Attorney General. Both issues are expected to be halted in the wake of Egan’s announcement.

Egan spoke with the Red Wing Republican-Eagle: “The position of mayor is one of public service and, if a mayor’s activities serve as a distraction or roadblock for the city, the public is not well served. The last few weeks have demonstrated that my new position can serve as a distraction to the city and my family.”

He was elected as mayor in February 2011 after a special election, winning 10 of 12 precincts. He swept all 12 precincts to win re-election last November, earning 73 percent of the votes. He’s previously served as Chamber of Commerce president in both Red Wing and Rochester.

Egan has faced a strong backlash from citizens in recent weeks, after news came out of his position with the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. Dale Hanson, of Red Wing, vowed to submit a recall petition if the situation wasn’t resolved to his liking.

“I feel bad for him, personally,” Red Wing council member Peggy Rehder said. “I don’t think he intentionally got himself in this really awkward position. He certainly did not, in any way, anticipate the reaction that this got.”

A special election is expected to be held this spring to fill the mayor position. It’s projected to cost $25,000.

And a great letter from Richard Johnson in the Beagle:

Letter: City Council certainly waffled, but mayor must go

The Red Wing City Council was called upon Monday to respond to a critical issue regarding Dennis Egan’s astonishingly bad judgment in entering into a contract for lobbying services with silica sand companies, while being mayor, getting paid by both to engage in conflicting jobs at cross purposes.

By: Richard Johnson, The Republican Eagle

To the Editor:

The Red Wing City Council was called upon Monday to respond to a critical issue regarding Dennis Egan’s astonishingly bad judgment in entering into a contract for lobbying services with silica sand companies, while being mayor, getting paid by both to engage in conflicting jobs at cross purposes.

Citizen input by virtue of emails and letters to the council as well as the R-E clearly reflected their disgust.

The facts were not in dispute. Egan’s decision three weeks ago was found in a publication rather than informing the council directly.

He gave a great campaign speech about his accomplishments as the mayor for 20 minutes, which was hugely self-serving and not relevant, and the council spent the next hour and a half dancing around the periphery, unwilling to label his conduct or confront him on it. They spoke of turning it over to the attorney general or having a committee study it for them. They seemed unfazed about spending taxpayer money.

Several on the council finally asked the mayor to pick one of the jobs and quit the other, to which he arrogantly said no.

The strongest language they used in describing the issue was “ethics” and “conflict of Interest.” Words are the ammunition of a democracy and it was apparent that the council was out of ammunition.

Although I attended the meeting as an opponent of sand mining in Goodhue County, as did most of the many attendees, I had no intention of speaking and did not do so at the appropriate time provided.

Finally, after 1 1/2 hours of what I would call “apologetic reluctance” by the council, I could see it would not be possible for me to leave the meeting without confronting and labeling the mayor’s conduct. Although out of order, I told the council they needed to do that for the community’s and citizens’ sake.

I said this man is corrupt.

The fact that I spoke at an inappropriate time finally gave the president and several members the courage that had been sadly lacking. They erupted in a common voice: Sit down. You are speaking out of order. You are breaking our rules!

They jumped from their chairs, threw their arms about, excited that they could now show their courage and pursue a common goal: my ejection from the council chamber, which was accomplished by signaling two big and fit police officers, who hastened me down the aisle and figuratively threw me down the council chambers steps.

Now, I am 77 years old, 5 foot 6, and have missed too many exercise sessions. Their conduct was a gross overreaction of the task assigned to them. The oldest woman on the council could have successfully escorted me out as I was complying.

At least I had managed to get consensus on a common goal from an otherwise indecisive, confused council, utterly lacking in courage and conviction.

If they had not been so abrupt, I would have next told them that had each one stood and told Egan they personally were appalled by his conduct and judgment, that he had brought embarrassment upon them and the city, that he must resign, and that, if he wouldn’t, they would, thenEgan would have resigned then and there, finding no comfort for his inexcusable conduct and seeing that he had no one to talk to. But I couldn’t, they didn’t and he didn’t.

There are two lessons to be learned.

One, if you are chairman of a public meeting, change your calendar to accommodate the 100-plus people there and table the mundane to the end of it.

Two, do not be afraid to have the courage of your convictions and to act on them. Trust your voters. Don’t get too far out in front, but also don’t lag too far behind.

For the restoration of respect for the community, Egan must go.

Remember, silica sand mines will damage health, quality of life, the environment, the tourist industry, property values and our fresh water resources.

Richard Johnson


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