Argus Leader writes a poignant editorial about the Downtown Parking Ramp investors

Like most of us who follow city hall politics, the AL has written off this current council and mayor;

It’s a shame that city leaders – for reasons at worst nefarious and at best simply tone-deaf – seem determined to dig in their heels and undermine public confidence.

We call on current city councilors to insist on a framework of transparency.

We call on the future members of the council to make open dealings a top priority, to act as a check against the worst impulses of the executive.

And we call on the future mayor and his or her administration to learn from the lessons this administration refuses to accept, paving the way for a new era of accountability.

They also bring up the 700 pound gorilla in the room;

— Legacy guarantor Aaron Hultgren’s construction company was heavily fined by OSHA for workplace safety violations after last year’s downtown building collapse, which killed a construction worker at a property owned by Norm Drake and Legacy.

This is a huge red flag, especially after reading this story today in the AL;

Both Hultgren and Command Center appealed the penalties. The appeals mean that OSHA’s investigation isn’t closed. Which in turn means that the investigation isn’t available to the public or lawyers representing various parties who might have a claim because of the accident – whether it’s the family of McMahon, Emily Fodness, the young woman who firefighters rescued, or downtown business owners who lost sales when parts of the city were closed.

The two most serious citations against Hultgren were classified as “willful,” the most serious OSHA levies. Willful violations are given to employers who knowingly failed to comply with legal requirements or acted with indifference to employee safety.

As they point out, Mr. Hultgren could be sued for millions once the smoke clears. Why would the city want to sign an 80 contract with this guy? If the lawsuits ARE filed and are successful the city could be holding the bag on this project. It is likely we could have a very expensive parking ramp with an unfinished hotel attached to it. The blatant ignorance of the city’s legal counsel is astounding on this part of the deal.


#1 The D@ily Spin on 12.03.17 at 8:17 pm

I used to think the Argus didn’t see how corrupt Huether is. I am assuming they get it now that he has used Home Rule Charter for how it wasn’t meant. Unfortunately, Argus circulation is minimal. TV media has become nationalized without local investigative importing. There’s no way to reach the people. At this point, the only recourse is city bankruptcy. Huether, finance, and legal will escape without retribution. I’m wondering what will be left.

#2 Stace Nelson on 12.04.17 at 9:17 am

Great coverage & commentary.

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