E-DEMOCRACY | Our list was conned

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From: Jordan Kushner Date: Jan 04 13:03

Apparently Steve Minn did not only invent personas to write defamatory letters to the City Council, but also to make posts on this list. http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/185618072.html

Jordan S. Kushner
Golden Valley

From: Steven Clift Date: Jan 04 13:33

E-Democracy.org received a letter from Steve Minn confessing a violation of our rules and terms of service. Those inactive accounts are being disabled and we will insert his identity into the profiles.

While 99%+ of you follow the rules and accountability that comes with real names, we rely on our membership to flag folks who they suspect are not using their real identities. We get about one complaint a year on this forum.

A general rule of thumb is if someone seems to know too much but no one knows who they are, they need to be reported to us for review. Our general process per the rules is to suspend an account until we receive proof of identity.

Here is the full policy from our rule http://e-democracy.org/rules

4.7 False Identity Process and Removal

If after careful consideration by the Forum Manager or E-Democracy.org lead staff it is determined that a participant’s actual identity is in question, that person’s posting rights on all forums will be suspended. Suspension will remain in effect until such time that their identity is confirmed or correct in their public profile. A letter may be requested containing photocopy of a government-issued ID with the full address and notarized signature on the same page is delivered to E-Democracy.org. If no proof of identity is provided within two weeks, the email address(es)/members accounts shall be deleted and banned from all E-Democracy.org forums.

Any identified individual found to have violated this rule with intent will be suspended from all participation in E-Democracy.org forum’s and activities for five years. This includes any and all email accounts associated with that person whether real or falsified.

If it appears that fraud, forgery, identity theft, or computer crime laws have been violated, E-Democracy.org will notify the appropriate legal authorities in the political jurisdiction most closely associated with the forum. Based on local laws, creating a false account to circumvent suspension may be a violation of computer trespassing laws.

An exception to this rule is the case-by-case prior approval by the Issues Forum staff lead for the use of an alias by someone under official court protection or participation by individuals in countries where political expression is illegal and/or the serious threat of oppression or retribution exists. In addition, with the permission of the Executive Director or Board of Directors the charters for special time-limited web-based online events on sensitive topics may be designed to allow anonymous participation.

From: Carol Overland Date: Jan 04 15:57

Steven and all –

Looking at the referenced STrib article, where Minn says:

“I deeply regret my lack of good judgment in using pseudonyms,” Minn said in a statement. “I hope that by acknowledging these facts, I will be able to re-earn the trust of city officials and continue my positive relationship with them.”

How dare he! (and note that in the quote he’s avoiding addressing the content) His repeated actions of using false names and the defamatory statements made should be sufficient to prohibit him from lobbying city elected officials and staff, and more importantly, to render him ineligible for city subsidies, and it should bring heightened critical scrutiny to any city-permit-needing project with which he has any connection whatsoever.

Schiff is a “public figure” with little recourse, and Doran might be regarded as such, but it was good to see that Doran did initiate a defamation suit. I hope they and others who have likely been defamed by Minn can hold him accountable. Slander and defamation are difficult to deal with in the legal system, because once it’s done, it out there, impossible to retract and hard to address because it’s hard to track it down and identify damages.

Thanks for the explanation of list policy, and noting it relies on list membership to out the frauds.

Carol A. Overland
formerly Prestigious East Phillips, now Red Wing, MN

From: Jeff Skrenes Date: Jan 04 16:43

Minn’s actions present quite the conundrum. I would tend to agree that harsh sanctions such as ineligibility for certain funding streams are appropriate in this case. However, putting such punishments into action hurts more than just Mr. Minn.

For instance, just down the street from my home, there is the future site of an apartment complex with first floor retail. That improvement at the corner of Penn and Broadway is sorely needed. Minn’s company is an integral part of that development. If his funding were withheld or suspended, what happens to this project? At best, it would be pushed back 1-2 years while a new developer is found.

I don’t know too much about his other projects, but I would imagine there are real-life ripple effects in those communities as well. Are those consequences worth it for us to have our pound of flesh? Or do we stand firm and say that over the long run our communities benefit more from ensuring that unethical behavior is not tolerated?

From: Joe Nathan Date: Jan 04 17:07

Jeff asks great questions. Is it more appropriate to have Mr. Minn pay a substantial fine, rather than disqualify him from continuing with projects already underway? Perhaps the fine could be accompanied by disqualification for a year in any new projects.

I’m a fan of “restorative justice” – which means people who commit crimes are expected to do something to “Pay back” society rather than being put in prison (which costs us more money). I’ve seen restorative justice work well (and not so well). But I wonder if that concept could be applied in this case?

Joe from St. Paul

From: Cheryl Luger Date: Jan 04 18:56

i went back over forum emails from the 3 cast members as named in the strib article …

well over a –HUNDRED POSTS– going back to spring 2009 (remember, that was an election year). the actual number may be a bit less if responders did not trim their posts or mentioned one of the 3 posters. some of the 3 replied to each other. it will be ‘fun’ to correctly attribute this on the forum…multiple topics, multiple references, etc. a couple of nasty swipes at sitting council people… including the need to bathe after being around them. given the animosity on some development issues, i figure forum members can id the council members receiving the most vitriol.

this involved some energy to pull this off. wondering if it became a ‘game’…. or like writing a screenplay with all the characters playing their roles..

question…. why mr. minn’s mea culpa? an epipany? remorse? or who else knew and confronted the confession ?

the ethics department can investigate but i am not sure what action can be taken. city ethics policies are written with a wide berth given to what constitutes the criteria for wrongdoing . i don’t think this comes to the level of ‘fraud’, and id theft is pretty tricky (assuming these are real people whose names were used to set up accounts and did not give their prior approval)..

from a presentation i saw given by ethics, it seems that short of a direct tit- for- tat, a bribe for goods/services or $ in exchange for favorable treatment, attempting to sanction this behavior with a ban on one developer (after the fact) will get the city __SUED__ big time. and the taxpayers get gutted in an ‘it’s cheaper to settle’ case.

this ethics ‘lapse’ has come up before and been commented on (i believe in one article written by steve brandt quoting a U (?) professor on using official city stationery for a private recommendation). maybe better to another solution by tightening up the rules for the next presumptuous entity seeking to do business here.

but maybe the city attorney office can come up with something better … a legal opinion or perhaps outsourcing it to the state or feds (is that worth the tax $ to investigate ).

i am sure this came as a surprise to potential mayoral candidate cherryhomes who represents mr. minn, among others, on development issues. the srib article has a passing reference to a northside project. http://docs.newsbank.com/s/InfoWeb/aggdocs/AWNB/13D7FA1D55C804F0/0FEAA90C14DCEF00?p_multi=STMB&s_lang=en-US

from my view, it seems that game playing went too far. what could have become a win-win (read compromise) became a zero sum on upsmanship. shame. i doubt there will be any serious repercussions.

best wishes,
cheryl luger
nokomis east

There were 31 posts on this topic as of January 6, 2013. Read the whole thread here.

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