Commissioner buys Newport bar in transit development area

  • Article by: Kevin Giles and Libor Jany , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: December 21, 2013 - 10:05 PM

In her public role, Autumn Lehrke influences policy and spending in Newport. In her business role, she bought a bar in a project zone.

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DufferHDec. 22, 1312:29 AM

Lehrke knew people would see her purchase of the bar "as a conflict of interest." But that didn't stop her from buying. It apparently is easy for public officials to put their consciences on a back burner.

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RandallwwDec. 22, 13 6:09 AM

"Newport Mayor Tim Geraghty said a conflict of interest would arise “if there’s development going on in that immediate area" Considering there has been no development in that area for many years, it does raise concerns. No different then insider trading. The old Know building sat for 20 yrs with no prospective development. Now plans are in place, money moving and a person on the inside gets a leg up?? pretty sneaky.

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Jakein08Dec. 22, 13 9:19 AM

When she bought the bar, it was common knowledge that the transit station was imminent. Anyone could have bought the bar. If it was a future goldmine, the owner could have sat on it and waited to sell. Much ado about nothing in my opinion. People are jealous of others success. I say good for this young couple for their drive and risk taking.

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wingophersDec. 22, 13 9:23 AM

Lehrke appears to have done everything correct and has abstained from voting on such development. Last time I looked we lived in America and had the right to the pursuit of happiness. She had the same information on development any citizen could have access to at anytime. I don't live in Newport but she is trying to make a living and do right by her constituents.

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ldahlkeDec. 22, 13 9:23 AM

My thoughts on this; all of these projects have been very public for quite some time(Discussion's may have begun around 1998 I believe), well before her purchase) and anyone following their local government there would have known about them as well. They are called out in the agendas and minutes of the boards very clearly. Is she taking advantage of an opportunity? I would say yes; but it's an opportunity everyone had access too as well and I would have possibly looked into it too if I invested in that area. This is a non-story in my opinion. You can't make money if you don't pay attention in this world.

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eddie55431Dec. 22, 13 9:47 AM

So, what the conspiracy crowd is saying is that no person who has any business interest in a community should ever run for a local office? How stupid. People who are actually invested in a community have the most interest in making sure that community thrives. She acted on investing in her community based on public knowledge, and anyone else could have done exactly what she did with the information. When faced with the possible appearance of a conflict of interest she recused herself from a critical vote, as she should have. Owning a business in a community is something which brings pride and participation to the political process. Being elected to small government does not preclude self-interest, we WANT quality successful people who know how to run a business in government.

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bobblumenfelDec. 22, 1310:15 AM

What many people here fail to realize is that, although the move was common knowledge, this woman had an influence on it, hence the conflict of interest. It's not insider information that's the problem.

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sek2undrstndDec. 22, 1310:30 AM

This doesn't pass the smell test. How many people outside of these political committees know if a vote is going to pass or not before it happens? Too often people who are involved in the deliberations know more about a particular project and it's ramifications than the general public and have inside knowledge on whether it has the votes to pass or not. So in that respect, Mrs. Lehrke and her husband should have waited until two weeks after the vote to have put in an offer.

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fishbachDec. 22, 1311:03 AM

There will soon be another sudden resignation of a public official - who is charged with acting in the interest of the citizens - because of poor judgement.

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honeybooDec. 22, 1311:13 AM

What does she think she is, a Met Council member?

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