Congratulations, Dennis Egan, on your new job as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, an organization that advocates for the industrial use of sand, particularly in fracking. But, while we have your ear, maybe we should talk about your other job as mayor of Red Wing, Minn.
At an intense City Council meeting attended by about 50 people who applauded the harshest rebukes of the mayor, two City Council members directly asked Egan to resign as mayor or step down as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. He steadfastly refused either option, saying he has no conflict of interest that can’t be managed on a case-by-case basis by recusing himself from city action on sand-mining issues.
“I deeply care about Red Wing,” said Egan, who was elected in November to a four-year term before he went to work for the sand council.
In an AP article, the honorable mayor notes that he signed a ban on frack sand mining in the city before he took the second job with the advocacy group. Interestingly, the prospect of sand mining in Red Wing is not the only point of concern for the city council. Again from the Star-Tribune:
Council President Lisa Bayley said Egan’s post with an industry that has encountered public opposition in its plans to expand sand-mining operations in Minnesota has taken a negative toll on the city and could hurt economic development.
You catch that? The argument Bayley is making is that people dislike sand mining so much in Minnesota that Egan’s position puts the city of Red Wing in a bad light. I’m not privy to the political relationship between Egan and Bayley (though I gather it’s not great), but that’s a remarkable argument. The taint of industrial fracking.
All of this was avoidable.
Egan said it wasn’t reasonable for the council to ask him to resign, partly because he is a professional consultant and lobbyist and the sand council is only his latest client.
Red Wing elected a lobbyist to be its mayor. Guys, I don’t want to tell you how to live your lives, but maybe that’s the first thing you need to fix.
Hat-tip to Midwest Energy News.