The City of Minot is looking to hire former state Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle as a legal consultant to represent the city before the Legislature.
The Minot City Council's Finance and Improvements Committee voted Tuesday to recommend the council pay Goettle $58,000 over the next year.
Goettle is a native of Donnybrook, where he has co-owned a family gravel business. He received his law degree from Hamline University in Minnesota in 1995 and lived and worked in Minot. He worked for the Federal Housing Finance Board and U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., before returning to North Dakota to become deputy commerce commissioner and later commerce commissioner from November 2004 to December 2010, when he left to become Sen. John Hoeven's state director.
Earlier this year, he sought the Republican endorsement for U.S. House, which went to Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk. He joined Odney Advertising, Bismarck, in April as a lobbyist and political consultant.
The city's one-year contract with Goettle would become effective June 1. David Waind, city manager, said Goettle would assist the city in working with legislative interim committees and would help determine the legislation that the city would wish to have introduced next session. His $24,500 contract for the remainder of this year would come from general fund reserves. The source of funding next year will be determined when the city budget is drafted.
Waind said the need for legislative representation is greater than it has ever been.
"The combination of flood impact and the need to make sure we do a good job of explaining to our legislators what the needs are and making sure they understand fully the comprehensive aspects of the need that we have - coupled with the impact we are feeling from energy development, there's never been a time that we have had such an obvious need to have this kind of help," he said.
Minot would hire Goettle as a special assistant city attorney rather than as a lobbyist, said city attorney John Van Grinsven. According to an Attorney General's opinion, cities cannot hire lobbyists. Cities may hire an employee or agent to act in an official capacity to represent the city's interests before the Legislature, he said.
Van Grinsven explanation came after Alderman Tom Seymour questioned the number of attorneys that the city has on staff. In addition to Van Grinsven, the city employs Kelly Hendershot as assistant attorney. Through the state Attorney General's office, Grand Forks city attorney Howard Swanson has been assisting with flood-related legal matters, but that contract has expired. Minot is proceeding to hire a legal consultant to assist with the Community Development Block Grant program.
Alderman Dean Frantsvog requested information regarding other clients that Goettle will be representing before the Legislature to ensure that any conflicts of interest are avoided. City staff will attempt to provide the information to the council by next Monday's meeting.