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Minnesota Opinion - On DEED needs to clean up its act:

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An excerpt from recent Minnesota editorials:

By The Associated Press

On DEED needs to

clean up its act:

No one who lived through the deadly floods of August 2007 in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin will forget the devastation. Roads and bridges washed out. Houses swept off of bluffs. Water everywhere. Worst of all, seven people died.

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The Winona Daily News and others called on the Pawlenty administration to expedite funding to help us rebuild, and help finally started to come.

A story last week (in) the Daily News focuses the spotlight on problems with how aid to Rushford was administered.

Possibly most frustrating is that the agency involved, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, is no stranger to questions.

In fact, an editorial in this newspaper on Feb. 13, 2008, quoted legislative auditor James Nobles discussing a state jobs program: "Public money is being spent here. It should be spent effectively, and we should bring to bear on this program -- just like we do on every other program that spends public money -- the tools of accountability and prioritizing."

A new state audit shows $1.85 million was loaned to five businesses in Rushford that were not directly affected by the Flood of 2007 -- a violation of state law. In fact, one of the businesses wasn't even in business when the flood occurred. ...

Kirsten Morrell of DEED told the Winona Daily News: "I think it was our suspicion that we didn't have any enforcement capabilities or oversight at the time."

Well, it isn't the first time -- and there's really no excuse any more.

State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who had filed a complaint with the auditor, said last week: "I was very disappointed -- disappointed that we had two different units of government that between them couldn't make sure the law was followed."

We all should be disappointed, because playing funding games in the wake of tragedy is inexcusable.

As communities continue to clean up from devastating flooding in September, DEED needs to clean up its act and make sure it has the administration and oversight in place to quickly provide every bit of funding it can to help those in need -- and no money for those not affected.

-- Winona Daily News

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