Winton cries foul over county video starring Andrew

A video released yesterday by Hennepin County has elicited a complaint from mayoral candidate Cam Winton.

The video celebrates the accomplishments of the county’s Community Works Department, most notably the popular Midtown Greenway.

Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, who is also running for mayor, figures prominently in the video.

“Intentional or no, the County’s action strongly appears to be a use of taxpayer funds for a partisan purpose, i.e., supporting Mr. Andrew’s candidacy by promoting his signature intiative at an essential time in the campaign,” Winton wrote in an e-mail today to State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

He has asked Otto to look into why the video was released less than three weeks before the election.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, an Andrew supporter, is also featured in the video. His office says it was intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the Community Works department, which traces its roots to an August 1993 joint meeting of the county board, the Minneapolis City Council and several other elected bodies.

The video makes no mention of that meeting, although Andrew, who was then chair of the county board, convened it. Ground wasn’t broken on the Greenway, itself, for another five years.

McLaughlin, whose aide was part of the the committee that developed the video, says there was no political motivation.

“It was Mark’s initiative. There’s no way you can tell the story of the creation of Community Works 20 years ago without him.” McLaughlin said. “It would be like trying to tell the story of the Ark and leaving out Noah.”

The county’s Public Affairs department says it would be impossible to calculate the cost of producing the video. One staff person worked on it for about a month while also juggling other projects, Public Affairs Director Carolyn Marinan said.

The video has been viewed about 400 times on YouTube. Ironically, Winton’s complaint will probably result in more people seeing it.

  • Joseph Dobbert

    Sounds like Cam Winton is just crabby because he has no major contributions to society to make him worthy of being Mayor. It’s not like the County manipulated time to make the 20th anniversary of the Greenway coincide with a Mayoral election. I also doubt that Mr. Andrew planned to be running for Mayor 20 years after the Greenway project got under way. I think any reasonable person would agree that the timing and the players were just coincidence.

    As to whether or not the County should have mentioned Mr. Andrew, I think the question to ask is: “Wouldn’t it be more inappropriate to intentionally omit any mention of him and pretend he didn’t start the ball rolling on this project?” How is it more “partisan” to state facts and give kudos to people who have done something for a major project like that on the anniversary of the project than it would be to rewrite history to remove him from the events?