[UPDATED] PRM Sues DEED & GreaterMSP Over Withholding Of Amazon HQ2 Bid

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Updated 8/13: PRM has added GreaterMSP to an amended lawsuit on multiple counts while DEED still maintains it “never collected, received, maintained or disseminated the unsuccessful proposal that is the subject of the complaint.”

“Minnesotan’s deserve to know…” Ehling told Minnesota Lawyer in a recent article.

Update 6/27: PRM has filed a lawsuit against DEED today on multiple counts, asserting that the agency’s conduct violates the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act Stat. § 13.03, etc. Extended coverage: MPR, WCCO,  Pioneer Press

Updated 3/20: The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports (paywall) on Bloomington’s pitch, which boils down to 141 acres of land, a new Blue Line light rail station and a $400 million subsidy.

Updated 3/18: The Pioneer Press reiterates that Greater MSP did the bidding (with Boston Consulting Group) on behalf of the state and other groups:

“From early on, Greater MSP was established as the lead, and groups wanting to pitch their sites were funneled through them. No one appeared to buck that order, at least not in the records available.”

Updated 2/27: Scott County (Shakopee, Elko New Market) releases their respective bids per PRM request; GreaterMSP is still holding out on second legal request made on 2/6.

Updated 2/7/2018: PRM submits legal request directly to DEED “partner” Greater MSP

Updated 1/19/2018: Minnesota is officially out of the running, nullifying Greater MSP’s claim of competitive secrecy.

Updated 12/9 1130 am CST: DEED has replied to PRMs request with two documents:

  1.  A document dated 12/16 signed by DEED Comissioner Shawntera Hardy indicates an initial offer of between $3-$5m of state aid, which is consistent with current statutory limits. Also mentioned are special examples of incentive packages previously authorized by the Minnesota Legislature. Positioned as possibilities these include: tax exemptions, expanded awards, and infrastructure support.  The “Unique public-private partnerships” section highlights such examples as Rochester’s Destination Medical Center and Minneapolis’ US Bank Stadium, which combined received over a billion dollars in Minnesota taxypayer funding.
  2. A cover letter for the actual proposal also dated October 16th and signed by Mark Dayton.

If the release of these two documents smells like red herring, you might be wondering: where is the actual proposal?

DEED doesn’t have that information, they say, because they didn’t actually submit it. Greater MSP did, according to DEED spokesperson Shane Delaney.

“These are the only documents DEED possesses that are responsive to this request,”  he told PRM via email, adding:

“Minnesota’s complete proposal to the Amazon HQ2 RFP was submitted by Greater MSP, an organization that partnered with DEED on this project. After assessing the requirements of the Amazon RFP and the deadline to respond, it was clear that DEED and Greater MSP would need to perform duties that best fit each organization’s strengths. Greater MSP took on the task of compiling Minnesota’s response and submitting it to Amazon.  Your additional request of supporting documentation related to this project is still pending. We will continue to process that portion of your request unless I hear otherwise from you.”

Updated: 11/13 @ 9:00 CDT: Request expanded to include Shakopee and Scott County.

Originally published 10/19 @2:24pm:  Local transparency in gov nonprofit Public Record Media (PRM) today submitted an official legal request to Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) surrounding the complete details of a proposal submitted to Amazon for HQ2 on behalf of Minnesota.

Citing Minnesota statutes under Chapter 13, aka Minnesota Government Data Privacy Act, PRM is first and foremost seeking the full release of ‘any and all data submitted by the state to Amazon in response to HQ2 RFP’ and vice-versa, from Amazon to the state pertaining to the RFP.

Furthermore, the request also includes a third component that covers related communications between Greater MSP, the unelected quasi public/private economic development group that’s been intimately involved with the DEED + Amazon proposal.

“We have received PRM’s request and will process it through our regular legal channels,” DEED spokesperson Shane Delaney says of receipt.

Comments

  • Rich M

    reading between the lines says they were willing to bend the laws and negotiate a public private partnership similar to the others of 500,000,000 (but didnt want that explicitly in writing)

  • Tom Corbett

    Seem like the government function provisions of the MGDPA would apply to Greater MSP. “Additionally, if a government entity enters a contractual arrangement with a private party to perform any governmental function, that private party is subject to the MGDPA with regards to any of the data created, collected, received, stored, used, maintained or disseminated in the performance of the agreement and must comply with the MGDPA as if it were a government entity.” http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/opi/gov/chsadmin/data/mgdpa.html

    • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

      “Invoices detail payments from DEED to Greater MSP” – http://www.publicrecordmedia.org/invoices-detail-payments-from-deed-to-greater-msp/

      • Tom Corbett

        In the linked article, it seems like the DEED spokesperson is saying there is no “overall contract” with MSP to try to avoid the MGDPA requirements for private parties performing government duties. A private party cannot submit a bid on behalf of a MN government entity without a contract of some sort. A verbal or email exchange along the lines of “MSP can submit the bid; Governor Dayton is OK with that” is a contract; otherwise, governments could avoid the statute by just not reducing these types of arrangements to writing — an absurd result. Kudos to PRM for holding DEED accountable and fighting the fight here. The lengths governments will go to to avoid complying with MGDPA requirements is sad. There’s really no reason not to let Minnesotans know the contents of the failed bid. Perhaps the next step is getting the MN Dept. of Admin. to provide an opinion. Opinions posted here are my own; not to be construed as legal advice. Just public commentary.

        • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

          “A private party cannot submit a bid on behalf of a MN government entity without a contract of some sort.” OK, says who or according to what?

          • Tom Corbett

            By “cannot”, I mean it is not logically possible (not that it is prohibited). Neither you nor I (nor any other private party) could submit the Amazon HQ2 bid on behalf of the state without having a contractual arrangement of some sort with the state to do so.

            Love tech.mn by the way. Great to see it continuing to feature PRM’s efforts here.

  • Tom Corbett

    Minnesota Statute, Section 13.05, subdivision 11(a).

  • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

    So who’s really doing the public’s bidding then?

    The actual state sanctioned economic development agency says they didn’t do it/don’t have it which means that an unelected quasi public/private non-government entity with zero oversight and is now calling the shots?

    Hmm…

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