Replay: MN State Auditor Candidates Debate In Winona

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State Auditor Rebecca Otto Debates Republican Pat Anderson

State Auditor Rebecca Otto Debates Republican Pat Anderson

Pat Anderson: Libraries are “non essential” services

Patti Garland: So if we as cities determine that libraries are part of an essential service you’re indicating you agree with that?

Pat Anderson: Most, first of all, specifically with libraries, libraries are a function of counties generally, and that’s why they were put into the nonessential, in most communities in the state of Minnesota libraries are done by counties.

Moderator and audience: No.

Pat Anderson: Well they are in most communities.

More audience members: No!

Pat Anderson:  But I don’t I don’t define a library as an essential an essential core service that absolutely get done.  Are they good? We all don’t like to cut anything.  Everyone has projects we don’t like — I had a very active park and rec program in the city of Eagan. But I would say that is a nonessential service when we’re making decisions. So.

Entire debate between State Auditor Rebecca Otto and candidate Pat Anderson in Winona on August 19, 2010.   Transcript of the debate when you continue reading.
Minnesota State Auditor Debate, Winona, MN, 8-19-10

Patti Garland: Good afternoon. As Bradley indicated I am Patti Garland  I am the Sartell City Administrator and welcome to our candidates. And we thought it might be helpful to just share with you very briefly a description of what the office of Minnesota State Auditor actually is charged with doing. What is its mission statement. In plPatti Garlandace since the days before statehood the office of State Auditor is a Constitutional office and it’s charged with overseeing more than 20 billion spent annually by local governments in Minnesota. The office of State Auditor does this by performing audits of local government financial statements and by reviewing documents, data, reports and complaints reported to the office. The State Auditor serves a four-year term and is elected by the public.

With that we invite our candidates and we’ll start with Auditor Otto to make an opening statement.

Rebecca Otto: Okay. Thank you. Can you all hear me OK? All right, great, then I won’t pick up the microphone. I am Rebecca Otto, the State Auditor. I’m in my fourth year of my first term and I’ll tell you I love my job. My vision is what we were asked to talk about. My vision for the office has been to be proactive and preventative with local governments. So when they spend tax dollars I want to help them get it right in the first place rather than just catching them doing the wrong thing. It’s a much better model and is more efficient. And frankly it’s what the taxpayers want. My focus has been on excellence and efficiency in government. And I’ve had my nose to the grindstone doing it every day for all Minnesotans. I work closely with local governments as they work with our office closely. My work yielded me the award of the National Excellence in Accountability Award from the nonpartisan national State Auditors Association, and I was very very pleased and proud of that. We’ve been able to through efficiencies in put in place in my office we’ve been able to conduct three times the number of investigations as the previous administration with the same amount of staff. In an economic downturn there is an increase in fraud both in the private sector and in the public sector. And so we’ve been able to be there for the taxpayers. But more importantly it could have been much worse. In terms of the number of cases of fraud and so we’re really proud of our outreach efforts to educate local officials to help them be successful. And I was recently elected to the executive committee of the National State Auditors Association.  That was a surprise but was very pleasant. Because I would love to lead as the national organization’s president on excellence and efficiency in government. And I’m not shy.   I’ve pushed the federal government when they’ve tried to do things to us at the state and local level, I’ve pushed the state government when they’ve tried to do things  to local governments because I understand your situation. And so that’s why I would love to serve again. And I’m on several new councils that were created to again make sure government is collaborating, cooperating and innovating wherever we can. Thank you.

Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you.  I am a little – my background too I’m also a former mayor of – I was a mayor and council member for the city of Eagan for about 12 years , 11 years, actually.  We and I served as auditor, I served as a state commissioner, I’ve run a think tank,  I’m a former business owner. So I have a really varied level of experience. I think you’re well aware of the differences between State Auditor Otto and myself and how we run the office.   I was a very active State Auditor. We did numerous, numerous studies and reports. I tried to create a relationship with local government officials where we we created the eUpdate, for example, where we sending information out to you in advance so you that would know what’s going on within the office, what new legal opinions have come out about what can be done and what can’t be done. We tried to set fund balance standards and get them information out to not only to you as elected officials but also to the public.  I think it’s important that we have comparisons.  As again a former mayor you kind of live in a bubble in your own city and you have to be able to take a look at what’s being done in other communities too to find good ways to to manage your own city. We did a lot of that. The office we when I in 2003 we actually privatized some of the audit functions. Because the county audits were behind, they are there’s a a real problem right now within the office. We did numerous – we’ll get into the investigation issue later. But I absolutely dispute the numbers in the investigations that were done. And I was a pretty high-profile auditor. I think the taxpayers want you to be a watchdog over government spending. They also want you to help governments do it right. So it’s a fine line. And I think we need that again in the office.

Patti Garland: Thank you. With that we’ll launch into our first question. Both of you have served as State Auditor.  During your term what was your most, single most important accomplishment? And we’ll start with Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: (Laughs) I think the single most important accomplishment was the Watchdog bill dealing with some of the public pension issues out in the state of Minnesota. Not just the three major funds which we did dramatic reform as you know in trying to shore up these funds but also some of the individual city funds the Minneapolis Teachers, Minneapolis Police and Fire, which was the Roselle investigation which is saving taxpayers about 60 million dollars in the city of Minneapolis and tied into that is the whole OPET issue. We did a special study about other post-retiree benefits and talked about that issue tried to find solutions so that we can stop some of these problems on the front end. Those problems haven’t gone away. It’s it’s gotten better but I think they’re going to be things that are going to be facing us all as elected officials.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Auditor Otto?

Rebecca Otto: Thank you . My proudest accomplishment probably is just there’s been a lot of things we’ve been able to accomplish to make it better for local governments. But with my focus on efficiency getting the national State Auditor’s Association National Excellence and Accountability award, my my fellow colleagues from around the country told me it’s kind of a big deal. And what’s really neat about it is as a nation we did a nation leading report and all it was was we have – Local governments spend 20 billion a year. There’s over 4000 units . We major budget problems. And what we did was we dug in and said “What’s the low-hanging fruit?” Well, energy is an overhead cost. Can we reduce those costs? You can get money back into public safety. You can get money back into plowing your roads and fixing your streets. And so we issued a report where you could find money to make wise investments to reduce costs.  It’s happening but local governments need the money. We did another report with more money in it. And we’ll continue to try to help folks make wise investments. They can be big, they can be small. But we’re going to have to try to find more low-hanging fruit to help us get through these tight times.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Clearly, both of you have spent a lot of time assessing the other’s tenure as auditor. What do you think your opponent has done well during her term in office? And we’re going to start with Auditor Otto.

Pat Anderson: Well, I want to thank Pat when she was auditor she started the Volunteer Fire Relief Working Group. And I think that was really smart. And I have continued that work. And we’ve worked to overhaul the Volunteer Fire Relief Pension laws, that were written back in the seventies, we’ve working with the author, and we’ve done some really really substantive work, but Pat got that ball rolling and I think that was great. Another thing I think she did that was really important was that she took her fiduciary duties seriously and she traveled to conferences to make sure that as she worked on the State Board of Investment and the PERA board  that the funds were invested wisely. So I think those were both things she did well.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. I think  Auditor Otto talks about the study that she did that she did get an award and we did several Best Practices studies too  I never submitted any of them to any national organization for awards but I think that was that is a good accomplishment and the research team at the office is very very good and and it shows and to focus on that I think was a very positive. So, thanks.

Patti Garland: Thank you. What is the appropriate role of the State Auditor in influencing state policy in areas beyond accountability in local finance? Is it appropriate for the auditor to be a leader in policy areas such as local government aid, economic development and education? And we’re going to start with you Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. I think it is appropriate. You do not have a vote. Only the legislators have a vote and even the Governor doesn’t have a vote.  But I think it’s very appropriate. You should be the the expert in local government issues. And while you have to pick and choose what’s of importance and you certainly can’t be involved in all of these issues at once I think you do have a role. Specifically as it relates to not just to local government aid as it is to cities but the whole county structure issue.  The AMC has put out a fantastic I think proposal that talks about reform. Talks about the change in the relationship between state and local government. And there’s some really good stuff in there. And as we get into the next legislative session we all know no matter who is elected to any of these offices we’re going to have to make some big changes. We’re going to have to rethink what we do, how we do it, how it’s funded. And I think the auditor, who should be an expert on many of these issues, should play a role.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Auditor Otto.

Rebecca Otto: My approach has been quite different than Pat’s approach when she was State Auditor. I’ve come in and I’ve worked very very hard to be a nonpartisan State Auditor. I’m not there to carry out the interests of a special interest group who doesn’t like taxes or anything else. What I have to do is I am there elected independently by the people for thee people in their best interest . So what I’ve done is work really hard to make our financial reports that the Governor uses that the Legislature uses to be fair and nonjudgmental. We’re reporting the numbers. I do go in and testify in committee. That’s very important to do. I meet privately with the Governor every six months and we talk about the numbers. And so that’s my role I believe as a State Auditor make sure the public understands the numbers are accessible. But you know what, the Legislature and the Governor are elected to determine what’s appropriate. Now I can share stories that I’ve heard from communities around the state who got hit really hard by those LGA cuts that Ms. Anderson advocated for. And they were serious. And the Governor heard my stories. I thought they were important because again, not every community is in as good of shape as some of the others. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Over the years State Auditors have approached the local govern- we’re going to stay with this theme for a bit here (audience laughter) State Auditors have approached the local government aid program from various perspectives. You two gave us a little bit of a glimpse at this point. Some have linked the level of state aid reductions to increases in property taxes. Others have emphasized the relationship between state aid levels and city spending and efficiency. Both approaches overlook the key feature of local government aid as a property tax equalization program. In your view what is the correct way to evaluate the success of the local government aid program? We’re going to start with Auditor Otto.

Rebecca Otto: You know, again, it’s, I was in the Legislature when they first cut LGA, when she issued the report saying that you could cut it by 43%. And when we talked about it every lawmaker who was in the room you know thought about their communities. How it would affect my communities. You can talk to lawmakers from different parts of the state and everyone has a slightly different idea of what would be appropriate to do. Now some people say “Well Duluth gets too much and you should just spread it out more to the other communities.” That formula was based on what lawmakers thought was a wise formula. There was a whole bunch of them that had to decide and vote and reach consensus. And the Governor had to sign it. Is there a perfect way to do it? I don’t think there ever will be a perfect way where everybody agrees. You know the north metro mayors have their idea of what would be better and you know what it gives them more and others less. And I think in a really tight time I don’t know that the Legislature’s gonna open that back up. They tweaked it again once but I don’t know that it did that much.  It is important as an equalizer because no matter where you live in the state when you pick up the phone if your house is on fire the fire department needs to be able to respond. And so that’s why I believe the state has to be very careful with their policies and I’ve told them that. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. The study that we did in 2003 showed that there is no linkage between levels of state aid and funding for essential services essentially. I think we need to completely rethink the LGA formula. I’ve talked about this for many many years and we need to link it to need to fund essential services versus your tax base. The state has a Constitutional responsibility to make sure that we have three things: education, roads and bridges, and public safety. And if the state is going to tell local units of government, mayors, county commissioners, school districts, that they have to carry out those functions, which are state functions, in our state Constitution, we need to make sure they’re funded and that they’re funded evenly across the state. And there’s many ways to fund services whether it’s property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, et cetera, which is why if you don’t have a tax base, to do those things, the state kicks in money through LGA. I think we have the formula has been warped through politics dramatically over time and it’s a real problem. And it’s shoving money into certain areas Duluth and the core cities, frankly, and to the detriment of communities that need the dollars.

Patti Garland: Thank you.

Pat Anderson: Thanks.

Patti Garland: Maybe just a little bit more followup. I think you’d both would probably like to share a little bit more of your thoughts on the local government aid program. But if both of you feel that perhaps the formula may be in need of some review and revision what specifically do you think are the problem areas within that formula that isn’t accurately assessing where the need is and appropriate distribution to equalize. Ms. Anderson if we could start with you.

Pat Anderson: I could talk for an hour on the issue but (laughs) but I’ll try to keep it to one minute. I think local government aid again needs to be linked to a basic level of core services that are being asked to be provided by every mayor in every community out in the state of Minnesota and versus your tax base.  And that’s the linkage that we need. That linkage does not exist. The study we did in ‘03 it didn’t advocate for a 43 percent cut. It said you COULD cut LGA that much to get everybody to the mean in nonessential service funding.  And that cuts were dramatic in some areas and not in others. And that’s that’s a fact. The Legislature has played politics with LGA with 30 or 40 years. And we need clarity. And we need to end this debate. Because state and local government have been battling each other for a long long time especially over the last decade about who’s responsible for funding and who’s driving up property taxes and who’s driving up income taxes. And I think it’s a real issue.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Auditor Otto. With props.

Rebecca Otto: (With chart.) Okay. The issue is that local government aid’s been cut.  This chart is a cities revenue report.  It’s from 1999 to 2008. The line south starting at about 2003 is state aid to cities. And then some federal aid. The line going up is property tax revenues. So what’s happened is as the state and feds have continued to cut our cities, and there’s a major acceleration between 7 and 8, they’ve had to rely more on property tax revenues. And then there’s people that’ll say “Bad cities, you know you’re raising your taxes,” but at the end of the day you have to provide public safety, you’ve gotta plow your roads, you need to patch your streets. And libraries, you know Pat Anderson I think politicized the whole issue by issuing that report which a lot of people said was not a credible report because she said “Libraries aren’t an essential service. Parks and recreation aren’t an essential service. Health isn’t an essential service.” Well I don’t know of many communities I’ve visited yet that don’t value their libraries. People are searching for jobs on the computers. Children are using those libraries. So these are things, these are the discussions we have to have. But has been politicizing and I’m not doing it. Thank you.

Patti Garland: I think you started on this but could you tell us specifically what do you deem to be an essential service and then what is a nonessential service. And Auditor Otto we’ll start with you

Rebecca Otto: You know somebody said to me the other day “I think there’s a lot of waste in government. Is that true or is that you know certain people say there’s a lot of waste.” And I said, “In the eyes of the beholder. Which beholder?”  You know some people might say “Well libraries, parks and rec all that’s nonessential and communities can just do without it.” When I travel and see people searching for jobs on those computers and I see people taking armloads of books because they’re either trying to reinvent themselves educate themselves or entertain themselves. And the children use those reading programs so they stay out of trouble on the streets so that the law enforcement doesn’t have to go after them. You know some people say that’s really essential to our quality of life. And a park and rec programs for their children and the community. Absolutely, public safety is essential and we expect it. And plowing the roads is essential absolutely. Patching the roads, you want to protect your investment. We want our bridges to stay up. I know communities in greater Minnesota that are closing their bridges. And I ask the farmers  “Are you OK with that?” And they say “No it’s not working but the county doesn’t have any money.” So I think these are the serious times we find ourselves in and we need to be smart and listen to each other at all levels of government and try to solve these problems. But I don’t I don’t believe I’m the one who decides that libraries and parks and rec are nonessential and health is nonessential. So…

Patti Garland: Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Well, I’ll answer the question. The essential services have long been defined. It is park or it is roads and bridges, general government, which includes zoning, usually, and administration, includes public safety, it includes, what am I missing, I think those are the main categories. But it includes most things that are done by cities. And that that is the definition of core essential services. Specifically roads and bridges and infrastructure which includes plowing and public safety are Constitutionally mandated services in the state of Minnesota. So they’re not just essential. They are the services in the state of Minnesota. So when you create a line and you have to make a decision what is essential and what’s not I think most people agree with my definition of essential services and it’s long been defined.

Patti Garland: And the second part of that was what is not an essential service? So I think you’ve tried to outline which are. Which are the ones that you think are not?

Pat Anderson: I think so. I think you know there are specific examples. If you remember, Tommy Rukavina who I understand was here earlier. I said his greenhouse in Virginia is not essential there. They have a greenhouse, a city greenhouse, and so on. So I think that there I think we all know what is and what isn’t and each of you as mayors and council members has been making, had to make budget cuts just like the state has and school districts have and I’m and I’m guessing that you’ve been cutting into more of the nonessential services rather than the essential services. At least that’s what city spending reports have shown.

Patti Garland: So if we as cities determine that libraries are part of an essential service you’re indicating you agree with that?

Pat Anderson: Most, first of all, specifically with libraries, libraries are a function of counties generally, and that’s why they were put into the nonessential, in most communities in the state of Minnesota libraries are done by counties.

Moderator and audience: No.

Pat Anderson: Well they are in most communities.

More audience members: No!

Pat Anderson:  But I don’t I don’t define a library as an essential an essential core service that absolutely get done.  Are they good? We all don’t like to cut anything.  Everyone has projects we don’t like — I had a very active park and rec program in the city of Eagan. But I would say that is a nonessential service when we’re making decisions. So.

Patti Garland: Thank you. What will you do as State Auditor to help local governments avoid financial difficulties, fraud and abuse before problems occur? How important is this function compared to following up on violations once they have happened? Auditor Otto we’ll start with you.

Rebecca Otto: Well this is what I tried to change from Day One when I walked into the office. Because I haven’t met a public official yet who wants the bad headlines in their community. And I, when I talk to local newspapers I said “Maybe you guys like the headlines sometimes it might sell papers” but really at the end of the day I want people to be able to trust government . and so we’ve gotta help folks. And in tight times when you’re struggling , budgets are tight and you have less folks you need some help. We’ve done lots of educational materials. I’ve traveled the state meeting with local officials. Especially our smaller communities in greater Minnesota. And they’ve been really great about accepting that education, asking good questions. They feel that it’s safe again to call the office. We get calls now people asking questions.  They’re not afraid they’re going to end up in the paper. And we’ve been able to avert many problems that way. We have something called Avoiding Pitfalls. People love where we see a small problem in a government, we put it in our eUpdate  and we get notes from you know city administrators saying “I’ve been in government thirty years.” I love those things. You know because we can help people avoid trends that start occurring. And so that’s my approach I’m not going to stop. I will continue because it’s it’s fun work and it’s good work.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. I when I served as State Auditor I did exactly the same thing. In fact I started that whole program.  And with the eUpdate we started laying out through the legal department lots of opinions on how to do things what makes sense how to get around things legally and we sent that out in eUpdates we sent them out in mailings to to mayors and council members and county board members. And I would continue to do that because I think it’s very important that you help educate local government officials on the front end. We also did a lot of things with our forms and our C-tabs and gave C-tabs out to the townships for free. We we trying to do everything that we could to get local governments to do things right in the first place. That is a big part of the role of the State Auditor.

Patti Garland: Thank you. What will you do to encourage a stronger relationship between cities and state government? Kind of a play on what you just started with. But perhaps if there are other suggestions or ideas you could offer. And we’ll start with you Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. I think I said it earlier. The relationship has really really deteriorated. It has deteriorated because of a lack of of trust. You’ve – we’ve had this battle going on between the state and the local governments and it’s been a big blame game and it’s all over money generally and it’s also over mandates because the state especially as it relates to counties and schools is constantly mandating absolutely everything including the maintenance of effort issues on counties and then blaming the counties for spending money on those things. And it’s a real problem. And I think we need to give local governments more freedom to make their own decisions especially at the county and the school district level. I think that’s vital. And I think we need to for once it would solve this problem of the LGA debate. And solve the problem of the mandate debate with the counties. And if we don’t we’re just going to continue to go on the path that we’ve gone on. So.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Auditor Otto.

24:47 unclear
Rebecca Otto: (UNCLEAR) I think the most city folks are here The county issue is counties and implementation are of state government so the state does tell them what to do.  But it is troubling and difficult when the counties have to raise the taxes to do the work the state gives them and the then state says “Shame on you.”  You know I’ve done surveys of local government officials C-tabs was a mess when I got there. There were tons of bugs. We we surveyed the local government officials. We overhauled the whole program based on what they wanted what they needed. It didn’t cost that much money.  We had user testing. And we have a new product now. And we’re doing online trainings for them so they don’t have to travel. Again when folks call us our turnaround time for getting back to them is much faster. Local officials appreciate the proactive preventative approach. They appreciate the trainings. We’re doing more education and outreach. And we’ve changed forms for them because it didn’t make sense before to save time.  It’s all about saving time and time is money as we all know. And so I would love to return to continue to do that work. So that we can continue to work on the relationship. But in a tough budget time there’s gonna be battling. Everyone’s battling over that same pie and the pieces are only so big. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you. We’ll try to move into a new area of discussion. If elected what issue do you think ought to be the first to be investigated by the auditor’s office? And we’re going to start where we left off. That’s our pattern. Auditor Otto.

Rebecca Otto: I guess investigated in what sense? I’m not sure if I –

Patti Garland: Is there an issue that you think there needs to be an investigation launched? Something that’s looming that –

Rebecca Otto: Okay. Thank you. You know the OPET issue was a new accounting standard. She said she did her report. But it was a new accounting standard that had come out.  So it wasn’t a scandal. I don’t think there’s a lot of scandals at the moment. I think what’s happening is accounting standards will change  constantly. What I’m doing is I’m really working more on – I’m the chair of the Collaborative Governance Council. And what I’m going to do rather than investigating is digging in and trying to be part of the solution. I’m good at bringing people together from all sides of the aisle to solve problems in government. I’m chairing the Collaborative Governance Council . It’s city, county, town and school officials and then we have the three major unions and we’re sitting down trying to figure out how can we do more with collaboration, cooperation, and innovation at all levels of government. We can push the feds we can push the state. We want to make it better. We want to be part of the solution. So for me, it’s more of a positive approach and it’s about being part of the solution. And because I do have credibility as a State Auditor. If I can get unanimous consent on some items for the Legislature to change, we’re gonna get it done just like we did with our Volunteer Fire Relief Working Group Bills that get through every year of  the House the Senate and the Governor without being touched. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: I don’t know if there’s a big specific thing that needs to be investigated, I’m sure lots of things will will come up.  But I go back to the issue with the counties and the mandate issue. I think it is a real real problem. It’s a real problem that the state government is trying to control everything that’s being done at the local unit. Much less with cities but at the local units with counties and school districts. And I and I think there are a lot of things that are being forced upon local units of government that don’t make any sense. And I think we need to take a very hard look at those things and try to relieve local units of government from some of the from some of the mandates out there. And to really get it done this time. We got a law passed that allowed when I was State Auditor that allowed the State Auditor’s office to to give relief for certain mandates but it was only on the Legislature would only give us a little bit of authority because they want to mandate everything on local units of government. That needs to expand dramatically.

Patti Garland: Thank you. We’re going to shift gears again. What is your favorite memory of greater Minnesota? And we’re starting with Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Favorite memory? Personal memory probably I like to fish and I’ve caught a lot of fish up at Lake of the Woods. I don’t know if anybody’s here from that area but that’s probably some of my favorite memories from greater Minnesota.

Patti Garland: Okay.

Rebecca Otto: Okay, I’ve got a long list. My husband and I were married in Red Wing at the historic inn there, the St. James Hotel. I came down the grand staircase into the -. it was just, it was  beautiful We used to go to the Anderson House in Wabasha. We used to love to go the historic inns. And I heard maybe they closed in 2009? I’m very sorry. They had very nice cats. (Audience laughter). I would say – (laughs) no they do, they give you a cat for your room. I know, some people go “Eww.” The Boundary Waters, I spent a lot of time there as a teenager and I think it made me into who I am in terms of learning how to carry an 80-pound canoe on my small 14-year-old frame. The Boy Scouts used to look and they’d drop their canoes as eight of them were carrying one and they’d go “How’s she doin that?” But it really taught me about the jewel of a state we have. And the amazing natural resources that we have. And so when I travel the state I call my family constantly and I’m like “Oh my gosh you wouldn’t believe this community.” Because there are so many gifts out there. And to me we have to protect our gifts and our and our strengths. We’re one great state and we’re only as strong as all of our communities. So.

Patti Garland: Thank you. We do have a couple of minutes left to allow each one of you a two-minute wrapup comment. Again if you want to reflect on your your vision and why you think you’re the person who should be voted in as State Auditor. Auditor Otto.

Rebecca Otto: Okay. Well I want to thank all of you and President Strand for inviting us today and the Coalition to have this opportunity to get to interact with so many of you in one place.  You know as State Auditor I’ve loved my term. I would love to come back. I feel that I’m effective. I’m good at bringing people together from all sides of the aisle to solve problems in government. Legislature’s had a tough time doing good things for you. They know I’ve got a good reputation so they said “Here. You take the Collaborative Governance Council and see what you can do.” And then they said “Here. Here’s the Local Council on Results and Innovation. Can you work on that too?” We’re going to work on performance benchmarks for local governments. Some of our smaller communities can’t hire consultants to come in and help them with that stuff. We’re going to try to create 10 for cities and 10 for counties.  And if you want to adopt them and use them and you do it successfully you’re gonna get a little bump in LGA. So there’s some good things going on out there. And we’re gonna work, I want to work really hard for you. For all of you. Not just metro. In the Collaborative Governance Council we know there’s differences between greater Minnesota and metro. And every time we look at an initiative we take that into mind to make sure that we’re being cognizant of that fact. Every region’s a little bit different in our state. I want to continue to focus on making Minnesota a national leader again in excellence and efficiency in government. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t do this. I’ve got a start. If you let me come back I will continue. And I will be a partner in working on helping you be successful. Making your case at the state level to make sure they understand that one community whose budget was so tight they were charging a fee to escort people from the funeral home to the cemetery. And that’s how they’re filling their budget gap. And I think that’s immoral. So anyway we need to get back to being as great as we are. We can work together to solve problems in government. There are people looking at regional service delivery we can certainly do that. And this the Collaborative Governance Council is looking at that.  So please go to our Web site the auditor’s Web site. We have links to our meeting minutes and all the work that we’re doing. We’d love to have you join us, they’re public meetings.  And I would love to serve you for another term to continue to make Minnesota a national leader again. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you. Ms. Anderson.

Pat Anderson: Thank you. I think Minnesota is really at a crossroads. And we’ve been going down a path and it’s not been working for any of us over the last decade and we need to make some dramatic changes. We  need to make changes in the structure between state and local government. We need to look at our funding systems. And we need to really bring Minnesota into I don’t want to say twenty-first century because we’re way beyond but into the future and I think it’s vital. And I think the State Auditor has a role to play. When I served as State Auditor I formed the Volunteer Fire Relief Association. I did the eUpdates. We did the pension studies. I was a very very active auditor. I was endorsed for reelection by every single newspaper in the state of Minnesota including the Trib by the way except the New Ulm Journal. And they all said that I was a very good State Auditor. That we ran the office efficiently. That we got stuff done.  That we pointed out problems. And we created solutions. And pushed solutions. And I think things were and I think things were better because of that. But we have so much that we need to do. And right now the state of Minnesota and local governments we’re broke. We’re broke and we have to make sure that every single dollar is spent wisely all across the state. And I think it’s going to take a team of people who can work together. Who understand government and who can actually get this done.  And it’s vital. And we have about six months the state dealing with the state budget. It’s a very short period of time. And after that there’s going to be lots of unresolved issues that we have to deal with and have to solve.  And I hope to be a part of that. I think I have the knowledge and the experience. I’ve run the office, I’ve run a state agency, I’ve done it all well. According to unbiased sources, very unbiased sources, including those that are on my political opposites. So I look forward to serving the citizens of Minnesota. I will be a strong watchdog because that is the role of the Auditor. Thank you.

Patti Garland: Thank you very much. And I personally want to thank both of the candidates. I wasn’t really looking forward to the moderator role but you both offered very insightful responses and you were respectful to one another and we appreciate that. And with that if we could give a warm round of applause.


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Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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