The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 11, 2012

Mankato city hits back after DEED rankings on bonding

By Dan Linehan
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO —  The city of Mankato is pursuing public data to figure out how the state ranked its request for civic center money below other projects — what “went awry” in City Manager Pat Hentges’ words.

The city issued a feisty press release Tuesday, criticizing the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s recently released scoring of grant requests.

“Plain and simple, DEED got it wrong in its project scoring,” the release said.

The release also takes a pre-emptive hit at a possible $27 million award — more than half of the total grant allotment — for a St. Paul Saints stadium. If that’s approved, Hentges notes in the release, it may have been because St. Paul lobbied intensively for the project.

Hentges was also critical of DEED handling the grant disbursal at all.

“The Legislature inappropriately delegated funding decisions onto a government agency that has no knowledge of a project’s history, its merits, or the allocation of past civic center bonding. The agency was not asked to base funding decisions on equity, and it didn’t.”

It also notes that Mankato and other communities are seeking public data “to determine what went awry with DEED’s scoring projections.”

While the scoring placed Mankato’s request below that of competing cities, Hentges said in the release that he is “confident Gov. Dayton will responsibly correct obvious discrepancies and fund the Mankato civic center expansion.”