Anoka County Official does not dispute destroying evidence.
By: Staff Writer
Did Anoka County and Dee Guthman break the law in order to protect unfair and discriminatory tax assessment practices? That’s what attorney Robert Hill alleges in a lawsuit filed March 30th on behalf of Menards, Inc. The case hinges upon the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (or MGDPA for short) which outlines how data and information are handled by government agencies within Minnesota. Anoka County and its employees are required to follow the guidelines established by the MGDPA.
In essence, the lawsuit alleges that the county did not comply with MGDPA by delaying the discovery of and outright destroying of various electronic communications between county and state officials. This is critical because as the lawsuit states “these records constituted evidence relevant to litigation between Menards and the County in which Menards challenges the County’s assessments underlying property taxes” meaning that instead of being able to present a case based on all the evidence (formerly known as The Truth), the county was allowed to craft whatever narrative best suited it. That’s not justice. That’s a cover-up.
The county does not deny or dispute the fact that communications were destroyed. They claim it was coincidence, emanating from their email deletion protocol. In other words, the dog ate their homework. Convenient, when those communications could paint a different picture of your practices. Chiefly, that assessors specifically target big box stores and large corporations unfairly when assessing their properties. It’s well-documented that this discrimination occurs.
Look, no one is saying that there’s a cabal of county officials meeting in dark rooms, twirling their mustaches. They’re just doing what they’ve always done. A decade ago, companies lacked the technology and knowledge to see how these practices unfairly impacted them. Now they do. And instead of changing to a less discriminatory method of assessment, officials want to keep business as usual. But when “what we’ve always done” is actually “penalize big businesses for being successful” that demands a change.
Fortunately, Robert Hill and his talented team of attorneys are answering the call.
See the supporting documents:
Summons_Menards v Dee Guthman_County of Anoka (PDF Download)
3-30-2018 Menard Complaint v Dee Guthman_County of Anoka (PDF Download)
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