Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Meg Tuthill: What About Her Emails?

Misleading graphic note: emails not leaked, they were data requested.
(Read Part I)

When last we heard from Meg Tuthill on the bike lane issue, she was flanked by signs that said "Nazi Lane" while participating in a protest of the new safety features on 26th and 28th Streets. But she's more than just an outspoken opponent of bike lanes.

After being defeated in 2013, Council Member Tuthill transitioned directly from working as an elected official into an administrative position with the city's Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department. This allowed her to keep her old City Council email address, and become Meg Tuthill: Shadow Council Member.

One thing you learn when you request Meg Tuthill's government emails is that she's close with former colleague and current City Council Member Lisa Goodman (gives you a leg up when you're looking for a job at CPED).

Here's a conversation from January 2016, when Goodman wanted Tuthill to help her use the Healy Project to stop new multifamily housing in Goodman's ward. Goodman wanted to "keep this out of the email" (a thing she said in an email) in order to avoid "litigation."

Email related to multifamily housing proposal for 1900 Colfax.
The reason Goodman is seeking help from Tuthill's friends at the Healy Project is because it's the same tactic Tuthill used to fight apartments at 2320 Colfax during the latter part of her term on the council. There's a reason Goodman is afraid of getting sued for organizing neighborhood opposition to a project she might have to vote on -- she was sued for doing that very thing 10 years ago: 
That pushed Hoyt over the edge. He filed his lawsuit on March 27, 2007. 
Goodman hounded the Loring Park neighborhood group staff and board members to provide the group's email list, so that she could send them the complaint. When they refused, she even threatened to cut off the group's funding. 
The court battle dragged on for two and a half years. Skolnick, Hoyt's attorney, pursued a three-pronged legal strategy, essentially arguing that Goodman—and the city of Minneapolis—had deprived his client of fair and equal treatment. 
The key question was whether Goodman had made up her mind before she voted on Parc Centrale. Unfortunately for Goodman, a flurry of email evidence showed she had taken a position, lobbied other council members, and even helped neighbors organize their opposition. She did all this weeks before she cast an official vote.
In another message, Tuthill consulted with Lisa Goodman via their government email accounts about Goodman's rumored 2017 opponent, Will Bornstein. Bornstein is a former president of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, a group Tuthill has been involved with for five decades after helping found the organization in the early 1970s. (As it turns out, Will Bornstein did not run against Lisa Goodman in 2017.)

The Healy Project features prominently in Tuthill's work life. In May 2015, Tuthill asks another city employee to help her edit a Healy Project tour invitation: "Would you please proof and make changes for me?"

Another thing you notice in these emails is that former Council Member Tuthill's grudge against the current council member is keeping Tuthill from performing her job at the city. When Tuthill was asked in March 2016 to set up meetings with a number of city council members, Tuthill refuses to communicate with Lisa Bender's office by responding: "Happy to do this. All but Bender. I'm sorry." In another email Tuthill says, "Left messages for all the other [council members] except Bender."

Other emails show a continued concern with Lisa Bender. In October 2015, Tuthill sent a message to the President and CEO of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, praising his performance in a radio debate with Lisa Bender.

The subject of the MPR discussion was Mayor Hodges' proposed Working Families Agenda. Tuthill writes, "I want to thank you for your calm, reasonable approach to this disastrous idea from Glidden, Bender and Hodges."

Referring to paid sick time, Tuthill tells him, "I find this frightening. Acting as a union for the private sector is not the job of government."

One last thing to note: Meg Tuthill lives up to my stereotype of extremely concerned residents, wielding her influence at CPED to demand access to the Star Tribune comment section.

This has been your update on the once and future leader of the Ward 10 government-in-exile. The post-election period could be a wild ride (just like four years ago) as the Wedge neighborhood's Tuthill faction grapples with the idea of another four years in the wilderness. Just keep in mind that our bike lane battles aren't always about bike lanes.