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26 ethics complaint

By Heather J. Carlson

hcarlson@postbulletin.com

The Rochester city administrator has concluded that City Council President Dennis Hanson did not violate the city’s code of ethics by voting on a recent housing project.

In an e-mail sent this afternoon, City Administrator Steve Kvenvold said there is no evidence that Hanson would have benefited directly or indirectly by voting for the Washington Village apartment development last week.

Rochester businessman Pat Devney had filed an ethics complaint with the city questioning whether Hanson violated the code of ethics last week by voting on the project. The two-building apartment project is being proposed by Weis Builders, who has done business with Kruse Lumber. Hanson works as Kruse Lumber’s director of business development.

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Devney owns a building near the proposed Washington Village site and also owns Dream Lodge Gifts.

In his e-mail, Kvenvold said Hanson is not involved in ownership of the lumber company, is salaried and isn’t involved in submission of bids. "He does not have a direct or indirect financial interest or other personal interest in the Weis Development applications that would tend to impair his independent judgment," Kvenvold said.

He also said Hanson disclosed his employment relationship with Kruse Lumber prior to voting on the Washington Village project June 16.

The e-mail was sent to council members, Devney and the media.

When an ethics complaint is filed with the city, it is up to the city administrator to determine whether there is cause to believe the code of ethics has been violated. If it is determined the code may have been violated, the case is forwarded to the city attorney, who would ask an independent investigator to review the case for possible criminal charges.

Kvenvold said he believes the city should re-examine its code of ethics to make it easier to understand and implement, and to remove criminal penalties. According to the e-mail, he has asked the city attorney to review the matter and make recommendations to the city council and mayor.

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