From Jeremy Schoeder of Common Cause, Minnesota: “While it is part of an elected official’s duty to represent those who got them elected, doing so while personally profiting would damage the integrity of the Winona County Board. Additionally, if Jacob’s proposals are as universal as he believes, they are sure to be adopted — with or without his vote. But a recusal would be an important way to preserve the county’s democratic process — from the ground up.”
More recently, Jacob voted to fire the County Administrator Duane Hebert over a disagreement about when and how Hebert informed the county of a possible conflict of interest.
To me, it seems to be more, “Do as I say, not as I do.” In fact, Mr. Jacob appears to be part of a three-commissioner block who lives by this philosophy.
Minnesota’s open-meeting law says, “A meeting must also be open at the request of the individual who is the subject of the meeting.”
While I understand that he was invited to attend the closed meeting, I am curious; was Duane Hebert given an opportunity to request that the meeting be open to the public ? If not, why not? If so, why didn’t he take the opportunity to shine a bit of light on this issue? Inquiring minds want to know.
And how many of you remember that Mena Kaehler, whose family owns Novel Energy Solutions, ran against Steve Jacob — and lost? And now we are told that Novel Energy Solutions chose to “remain in the background” when submitting their proposal, so they used a cover company. Can county business get any more convoluted?
Recently, several letters to the editor have been written to the Winona Daily News concerning the new members that have been appointed to some of the citizen boards and commissions. Indeed, there even seems to be something smelly in the volunteer appointment process in our county.
On his website, Steve Jacob stands for “truth, transparency and accountability within our government,” but apparently only where others are concerned.
Poor — and sometimes secret — decision-making processes on hot button issues such as zoning, frac sand mining and solar voltaic systems seem to be the norm in our county right now.
It seems Winona County is quickly replacing Wabasha as the laughingstock of Minnesota county government.
This commentary was originally published May 15, 2014 in the print edition of the Winona Daily News under the headline: Winona County government is dysfunctional