Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday called to order the inaugural meeting of the Destination Medical Center Corporation board, an eight-member group charged with overseeing one of Minnesota's largest economic development initiatives.
With state legislators, city and county officials and other members of the public observing, the meeting took place in the Grand Ballroom at Mayo Civic Center.
Several people commented on the historic significance of the meeting, as it set in motion a $6 billion, 20-year plan to expand Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester and transform the city into place where more people throughout the nation and world will want to come for medical care and jobs.
The Mayo-initiated plan includes $455 million in state funding and $128 million in funding from Rochester and Olmsted County. The public dollars are to be used for public infrastructure that will support Mayo's $3.5 billion in development over the next 20 years. Also, Mayo expects the public and institutional investments to leverage another $2 billion in private investment.
For those who worked tirelessly on the DMC legislation, including lawmakers, city officials and staff, and Mayo Clinic representatives, the meeting was the first step in implementing an idea hatched several years ago.
"It was historic. I wanted to be here if nothing more than it is a historic event," said Olmsted County Judge Kevin Lund, who, at times, has been critical of the way in which Mayo Clinic unveiled its DMC plans.
Before the new board got down to business, several people made introductory remarks, including Dayton, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, who is a DMCC board member, and Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy. Then, each of the seven board members present — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was unable to attend — introduced themselves.
The governor then instructed the board to appoint a chairperson. Brede nominated Dayton's Chief of Staff Tina Smith, and with no other nominations made, the board quickly voted unanimously to make her the chairwoman.
The audience applauded, Smith shook her fellow board members' hands, and Dayton gave her a hug. He said the board made a good choice.
"And mayor, I'm all for getting that high speed rail going so we can get her back and forth between St. Paul and Rochester faster," Dayton said. He then exited the meeting, leaving the board to continue on.
Smith immediately brought up the task of selecting legal counsel for the DMCC. She asked Rochester City Attorney Terry Adkins to advise the board on a process of soliciting proposals, and the board agreed to review candidates at its next meeting, in about six weeks.
Board member James Campbell, one of Dayton's four appointees to the DMCC board, suggested that the counsel's first task be to review the board's bylaws and articles of incorporation, the latter of which the city filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. The Rochester City Council approved the documents on July 15, with the understanding that the DMCC board would be able to review and amend them.
It appeared, at that time, that Mayo had concerns about the documents because Kathleen Harrington, chairwoman of Mayo's Government Relations division, urged the council to hold off on their approval and allow Mayo time to provide input about them.
While Mayo did not say what concerns it had, some council members and city staff suspected the clinic wanted a chance to talk in private about changing the documents.
Agents of the state
Sen. David Senjem complained about the documents, saying that the language in the articles of incorporation requires the DMCC to gain city council approval before changing its bylaws. The bylaws, basically, say how the board will operate.
"That is in clear violation of the intent of the legislation," Senjem said, in an earlier interview with the Post-Bulletin.
"It is, in my mind, a body of the state, an extension of the state government into this community, working with this community," he said.
Campbell, a retired group executive vice president of Wells Fargo & Co., appeared to share Senjem's view. When he suggested that the review of the documents be the DMCC counsel's first task, he also said, "I was asked to serve on the board to represent the citizens of Minnesota."
Also, DMCC board member Bill George, another Dayton appointee, asked Smith if the board represents the state. Smith said that was true.
Also part of the meeting, Adkins gave a quick presentation on the state's open records and open meetings laws. It was not new information for some board members, such as Brede and city councilman Ed Hruska.
"For those of you who come from the private sector, boy are you in for a shock," Adkins said, and then he proceeded to tell the group about how anything they create pertaining to the DMCC — even hand-written notes and email — constitutes a public record.
Later, Smith said: "Those of you used to working in the private sector, I assure you, you will get used to this, and it works fine."