'Appreciation Celebration' Honors Former State Sen. Don Betzold
He also got a recent award for his work to make government more transparent.
Political heavy hitters turned out last week to honor former state Sen. Don Betzold of Fridley, whose 18 years in the Minnesota Senate ended in January.
About 80-90 people attended the April 5 "appreciation celebration" at the Shorewood Grill, according to Senate District 51 DFL Party Chair Jeremy Powers.
Among them were several state officials, including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie; state Senators Tom Bakk, Scott Dibble, Barb Goodwin, Tony Lourey and John Marty; and former state senators and representatives Roger Moe, Steve Novak, Alice Johnson, Richard Jefferson and Connie Bernardy. State Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-51B) couldn't attend because the state Legislature was in session late that night.
Also in attendance were many local officials, including Anoka County Commissioners Dan Earhart and Jim Koridak; Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo; Fridley Mayor Scott Lund and Fridley Council Member Delores Varichek, Blaine Council Member Dick Swanson and Spring Lake Park Mayor Pro Tem Jeanne Mason. (Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan was ill, Powers said.)
Although the event wasn't a political fundraiser, several DFL Party officials were there, including state DFL Party Chair Ken Martin. Labor leaders in attendance included Bill McCarthy of Central Labor.
Betzold, a DFLer, lost his re-election bid in November to Republican Pam Wolf.
Freedom of Information Award
It's not the first honor for Betzold since he left office. In March, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) gave him its annual John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award. (Betzold shared it with another Don—journalist Don Shelby, formerly of WCCO-TV, now with MinnPost.)
The MNCOGI credited Betzold with developing "meaningful policy about freedom of information," as detailed in this statement:
For years, Senator Betzold was the consistent champion of the public's right to know in the Minnesota Senate. Many times he took on the often thankless task of carrying the annual data practices bill. Even though advancing the cause of freedom of information does not enjoy a reputation for being a high visibility political activity, Senator Betzold continually used his leadership skills to move bills through the legislative process. His work included reform efforts to deal with the increased computerization of government information. Senator Betzold also promoted the cause of transparency by authoring bills to assure access to government information online. He took firm, principled stands on maintaining open records and open meetings even when it was politically unpopular to do so.