Dustup update: Governor says he’s paying chef from his own pocket

A minor dustup emerged this morning in the state budget battle, when Republicans noted that Gov. Mark Dayton has kept a chef and a housekeeper at the Governor’s mansion on staff during the shutdown, labeling them as essential employees.

But this afternoon, Dayton spokesperson Katherine Tinucci called to say that the chef, Micah Pace, is being paid by the governor out of his own pocket for the duration of the shutdown.

And that was the case from the beginning of the shutdown July 1, before Republicans made a big deal of it, she said. “We just didn’t make an announcement about it then,” she said. (Dayton is not drawing his state salary during the shutdown.)

And housekeeper Michelle Mersereau was kept on the payroll because the mansion, on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue, is 100 years old and needs constant care, she said. (The mansion was opened in 1912 as the home of Horace Hills Irvine, a St. Paul lumberman and lawyer.)

“We need to continue with the upkeep and maintenance of the Minnesota state building, even during the shutdown,” she said.

The mansion has been closed to public tours during the shutdown but is expected to reopen as soon as the budget battle is resolved, she said.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by will lynott on 07/07/2011 - 09:36 pm.

    Ah, the Rs are outmanouevered by our Governor again. They must be getting annoyed by now.

    Mark Dayton is the Governor, wingnuts, and he lives at the mansion, which is perfectly acceptable. Before you stick your collective neck out again and get it chopped off, remember he’s not being paid during the shutdown and he’s paying the chef on his own dime. I’ll take your complaining more seriously when I find that the R legislators have foresworn their own pay and allowances. This includes Zellers, who for some reason thinks he’s better than everybody else and has to keep taking his salary for doing exactly nothing except putting roadblocks in the way of an acceptable budget deal.

  2. Submitted by steve anderson on 07/09/2011 - 09:23 am.

    This tells me that Gov. Dayton seems to OK with the shutdown because he can still pay for what he wants out-of-pocket. The budget sent to him was balanced and in fact was an increase from the last budget. And because we need to tax someone to get the budget we wants tells us that we have a SPENDING problem and should look at what really is not necessary. And this shutdown I think will show us what the heck the government is in to. I think we will find that government is doing more than we want or know and it should not.

  3. Submitted by Michele Westlund on 07/09/2011 - 09:37 am.

    I totally agree that not one member of the MN Legislature should be collecting any money.
    When I first read the story about Dayton’s chef being an essential employee, I found that humorous. Seriously? Gov. Dayton cannot make any of his meals? However, IF the Gov. is paying out of his millionaire’s funding, I guess I can’t complain!

  4. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 07/09/2011 - 10:59 am.

    I Governor Dayton can pay to keep a staffer on the job why can’t other parties hire a shut down gov employee for tasks they regularly perform.

    I saw a news story on KSTO-TV about a new craft brewery that cannot open because they need a steam boiler inspection. Technically, it will not be a “bribe” if the inspector is careful to follow all procedures and codes. Same with bar licence renewals along with others like the lottery and horse tracks.

    A key element of bribery is “bending the rules” and not publicly reporting the payments. There are many cases where you can “fastrack” inspection and certification work by paying basically an overtime rate for billable hours. This is not new! The affected agencies claim to pay for these inspection costs through licence fees.

    Elected officials like Dayton have a a very limited number of “political appointee” jobs.

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the gov mansion staff is not among these. If they are not Gov Dayton may have set a precedent for others to “hire”. If the shutdown laid off refuse this could jepordize their unemployment benefits and be very bad PR.

  5. Submitted by Rob Luna on 07/09/2011 - 03:57 pm.

    It doesn’t matter who pays the Chef directly, it all fungible. Dayton gets his money from the taxpayers and passes it on to his helpers.
    The fact that Dayton included his Chef as an essential employee tells me he intended for the State to pick up the tab but changed when he got caught.

    This is typical democrat response. While people are losing their homes and their jobs the Democrat Gov.keeps living like a King being waited on hand and foot as the peasants starve. Obama is the same way. Unemployment rises to 9.2%, he just blames it on Bush again and plays golf or goes on another vacation. Michelle Obama’s little trip to Africa only cost us poor people $850,000. Arrogant Elitest Democrats from Obama to Pelosi on down to Gov. Dayton, they think their better than everybody else.

  6. Submitted by Steve Rose on 07/09/2011 - 05:50 pm.

    Will (#1):

    Take a look at the Governor’s list of essential employees; it includes Micah Pace and Michele Mersereau. One is getting paid by the state and now we learn that one is being paid by the governor, ostensibly since the beginning of the shutdown.

    The governor got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and is attempting to claim that the jar contains no cookies. Next time, he should figure it out up front or put a thicker veneer on the cover-up.

    There is no need for anyone that the Governor is paying directly to appear on the list of essential employees.

    The age of the house has no bearing on the need for a housekeeper. If the roof starts to leak, will she be repairing it?

  7. Submitted by will lynott on 07/09/2011 - 06:09 pm.

    #2, give it a rest. The R budget was not balanced, it was a pipe dream held together with spit and bailing wire, larded with fairy tale assumptions based on nonsense fiscal analyses provided by private companies that hoped to get government outsourcing contracts. Even the Rs admitted this, when they protested that if they were wrong they could always address the disparities in the next legislative session.

    Even if it HAD been balanced, the mere submission of a balanced budget is meaningless if the Governor won’t sign it. You’ll recall that this happened repeatedly during the TP administration. I’d appreciate the links to your posts back then castigating the Rs for not accepting the D’s balanced budgets. They were balanced, you know.

    Oh, and the budget our Governor presented to the legislature LAST FEBRUARY was also balanced. I’d like to see your supportive posts on that as well. Got all that?

Leave a Reply