Change to Senate DMC Authority Plan

Posted at: 03/22/2013 6:57 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It’s a massive proposal that could re-shape Rochester. But now the actions of a longtime lawmaker are drawing criticism around a plan that appears to take local control away from the Mayo Clinic Destination Medical Center project.

The lawmaker at the center of this is Republican Dave Senjem. And what he’s proposing, is a big shift from the original plan, and a companion bill in the House.

Senator Senjem says his shift is only meant to help the project, by allowing outside opinions. But those we talked with are having a hard time with the idea.

If the Destination Medical Center plans are approved, a governing body would be created to oversee it. The original plan would have included members of the city council, county board, and those from Mayo Clinic.

"Because we have those large dollar amounts in this program and moving this economic engine forward. We want to make sure that we have a voice in terms of how these dollars are spent and how they're used and the planning behind it,” said Lisa Clarke, a Destination Medical Center Administrator.

But an amendment to the Senate bill would change that. A seven member board could not include anyone from Rochester or have a financial interest in Mayo Clinic. And that’s the point of concern from other elected officials.

"The citizens of Rochester are going to see the benefits and the impact of the project affecting our city, so I just believe very clearly that we should have some oversight role if not in the master plan, certainly in specific project,” said Randy Staver, Interim City Council President.

So we asked Senator Senjem why. He said it’s a matter of being objective with such a large project.

"It was felt at least that we ought to have a little separation in terms of the standpoint all of these players not being local from a stand point that could put some objectivity into the whole approval process and give it frankly, perhaps, a little more legislative confidence,” said Senator Senjem.

The confidence necessary to have the bill approved.

It’s important to note, there is a House version of the bill—that version has 8 members on the D.M.C. Authority, seven of whom would be from Rochester. Representative Kim Norton told us today, there’s still a lot of time to work out the specifics of the bills.