FREE SPEECH ZONE | The Central Corridor Spin Doctor: PiPress Editor on Met Council Payroll


As South African journalist Sipho Zaidi E. Khumalo stated recently at the Twin Cities Media Alliance Brown Bag Lunch, the so-called “journalists” working for the large newspaper chains often pass through a revolving door that leads to more lucrative employment in the field of government relations.   The same folks who claim to be reporting on public affairs often end up working for the government agencies they were supposed to be covering. “Basically, what they are,” states Khumalo, “(are) spin doctors for government officials.”

According to a bio published by a corporate front group called The Citizens League: “Steve Dornfeld is the Director of Public Affairs at the Metropolitan Council.  Before joining the Met Council, Mr. Dornfeld spent more than 20 years at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the last dozen on the opinion pages as a writer, columnist and editor.”   Judging from the piece that appeared in last Sunday’s paper titled Clear signs the train’s on track, it appears that while collecting a paycheck from the Met Council, Mr. Dornfeld continues to write anonymously for the paper’s opinion pages.

Is there any informed person who honestly thinks that the Central Corridor project will be built according to the current schedule and budget?  “Seize the moment and work hard to stay on time and on budget,” urges the Pioneer Press.   That’s the same crap that the Met Council has been drumming while it’s drained well over 50 million dollars on a clearly inadequate study of the project costs and benefits.  The so-called “cost-effectiveness” analysis for the project was so ridiculous that the federal government, eager to build something (apparently any asinine concrete project), decided to declare the analysis irrelevant rather than allow a lawsuit to expose it as a fraud.

The Met Council and other county and state agencies have already paid private consultants and contractors well over 50 million dollars to study the project, and they still haven’t figured out how to run the train through 4 of the 5 major access points.  They still haven’t solved the traffic, safety, noise, parking, and mitigation issues associated with the University of Minnesota, Midway, State Capitol and Cedar Street sections of the route.  After spending well over 50 million dollars on project studies, the only section that appears to be figured out is the section that’s already built, from the Metrodome to the Twins Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

“It would be a shame for technical disputes over how to fix problems, as is the case with the University and MPR, to hold up the project,” states the Pioneer Press/Met Council opinion page.  Duh.  What would the project backers prefer?  Should the problems not be fixed?