Although the city had already got an independent legal opinion, the Ramsey City Council is sending a potential conflict of interest case to the State Auditor’s Office.
According a legal opinion by the League of Minnesota Cities, Ramsey City Councilmember Colin McGlone does not have a conflict of interest because his wife is now working for Flaherty and Collins’s The Residence project, but the council voted unanimously to have the State Auditor’s Office look into the situation.
The council voted Aug. 28 to have the auditor’s office look at the McGlone situation as well as potential conflicts involving two Economic Development Authority members after local blogger Eric Zaetsch brought up issue during the council meeting’s citizens input segment.
He is concerned about the conflict of interest because of the proximity of the council approving the $7.32 million loan to Flaherty and Collins for The Residence project in May and Emily McGlone being hired by the company, Zaetsch said.
She was hired around the beginning of June, shortly after the loan was arranged and the deed was recorded on the property the company purchased from the city for the 230-unit apartment building, he said.
Because this involves a family member, it is a personal matter and his family is not bound to public data requests, said McGlone, who stepped down and addressed the council as a private citizen.
He sought the advice of the city attorney as well as the League of Minnesota Cities and a conflict does not exist, he said.
“Wishful thinking cannot create a conflict where it does not exist,” McGlone said.
In an effort to put the issue to rest, Councilmember Jason Tossey recommended hiring an independent attorney or the state auditor look at the situation as well as two potential EDA situations.
One of the EDA members voted to authorize a sewer and water access fee waiver for his landlord and a second voted to approve a subsidy for a restaurant for which he now works, Tossey said.
“Let’s look at all potential conflicts,” he said.
This will not go away and maybe having the state auditor look at it will put an end to it, Tossey said.
“I want to make sure it is all legal,” he said.
Councilmember Sarah Strommen said the council needs to review the conflict of interest policy.
“I think it will help with transparency for council to disclosure,” she said.
McGlone did not vote or participate in the in the conversation.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org