Olmsted County rail consultant Chuck Michael said he was not paid by the private company seeking to build a high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities.
Michael sent an email to the Post-Bulletin following an article published that reported Michael did some consulting work for North American High Speed Rail Group last year. In the email, Michael wrote, "you should be interested to know that my total compensation from NAHSR was $0."
In an interview, Michael said he does a lot of voluntary, pro bono work and didn't think about mentioning this was one of those cases. Michael said the work involved meeting with officials in another state. He noted that Minnesota has a statewide rail plan — a requirement in order for a state to get funding. Several states have yet to put together such a plan.
"They look to Minnesota like how can we be more like them because we want these things to happen in our state, but we don't know how to go about it," Michael said.
Joining in him in the discussions were several consulting firms, economists, developers and metropolitan planning agencies.
"Everybody threw in their two cents worth, trying to help them get to where they want to be," he said.
Michael declined to name the state where he did the consulting work.
Critics of a proposed high-speed rail route from Rochester to the Twin Cities accused Michael of having a conflict of interest because he did consulting work for the private company. Olmsted County Commissioner Paul Wilson said he did not see a conflict of interest because the work was done out of state. He noted that Michael is an independent consultant with several clients.