Benefit Dinner for Paul Wotzka

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To assist with the legal expenses of Paul Wotzka’s whistleblower lawsuit, there will be a benefit dinner at the Eagle Bluff Nature Center in Lanesboro on August 11 at 5:30 p.m.  Here’s the blurb as sent to me:

 Paul Wotzka was an employee of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) when he was asked by Representative Ken Tschumper to testify at the Minnesota House about results of atrazine monitoring that Wotzka was involved with previously as a hydrologist for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The MPCA denied his request to testify and a week later Wotzka was put on investigative leave and subsequently fired. Funds raised at this event will help Wotzka cover his legal expenses. The cost is $25 per person, required by August 8. Donations for a silent auction are also welcomed. You can bring them to the dinner or drop them off at Eagle Bluff (please let Eagle Bluff know in advance if possible).

Contact Eagle Bluff Learning Center to make a reservation at 507.467.2437 or 888.800.9558.

12 Responses to “Benefit Dinner for Paul Wotzka”

  1. Jeff

    Is this fired employee really a “whistleblower” or just angry?

    I agree that MN Dept of AG is, in many respects, a whipping boy for Ag industry. There is also a lot of data and information on the damaging effects of atrazine (and its degridates) in aquatic systems and its ridiculously high concentrations in MN ground and surface waters. These are not hidden or unknown issues just ones policy makers have repeatedly ducked responsibility for. What’s new when it comes to the environment?

    Just listen to this October 2005 MN NPR story with Paul Wotzka, (and I assume with MDAs approval) as the focus describing the problems of atrazine in the Whitewater River.
    (…). In this story he is explaining the high concentrations of atrazine quantified in the SW and other experts explaining the detrimental effects of those high concentrations. No one else is speaking for the MDA so I guess if there was some sort of misrepresentation of facts he would have been knowledgeable of and involved with it. He was employed by MDA for 16-yrs which makes you wonder why after being fired he now has a concern for some sort of cover-up?

    It sounds like the Dept of Employee Relations was investigating this guy 4 or 5 months before he was asked to talk to this subcommittee. Apparently his termination letter from the state cited the “destruction of data” and the “improper diversion of state mail”. I dont know what all that means but I would guess that the state has bullet proof evidence to make such strong statements which resulted in his firing.

    I guess time will tell with his story. Unfortunately I fear that the more important issue of unregulated and harmful pesticides in our state waters will be pushed off to the side for some trial lawyer carnival theatrics.

  2. Tim

    Jeff, This who thing does smell fishy. If there was something to it why has it not been in the papers? – Tim

  3. Jeff G.

    i just heard the Mr. Wotzka has dropped his whistleblower lawsuit. if that is correct where did the $ go that i paid at the fundraiser for supporting the lawsuit?????

  4. Brian DVore

    Jeff G., here is a clarification Paul Wotzka recently provided on the status of the lawsuit:

    Both sides to my lawsuit in federal court have asked that the case be dismissed without prejudice. This means that we can re-file the lawsuit at any time. There are a few reasons we decided to dismiss the case in federal court. First, the government claims that it was the Department of Employee Relations (DOER) that fired me, and not the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), where I worked. If that’s true, then I would need to sue DOER and not MPCA. We want to investigate the respective roles of the various government agencies in the decision to fire me before re-filing the lawsuit. Second, the government has also indicated that there was a secret investigation against me which was the reason I was fired. We want to learn as much about this secret investigation as we can. Finally, the government has invoked a legal technicality which would require me to file my lawsuit in state court instead of in federal court. Before we want to re-file, we want to make sure we are in the right court with the right defendant.

    — Paul Wotzka, 11/29/07

  5. Jeff G.

    i can see why the State would allow the lawsuit to be dropped because they were the defendents.

    i would assume that the State would be required to do an investigation of an employee before they were fired and that there would be a written report of the information found during that investigation. is Paul Wotzka saying that this investigation was a “secret” and hidden from the public? i can understand why DOER cannot release the information but if Paul has a copy of the investigation report (he must) why doesent he make it public by putting it on the web so we can see who was doing what?

  6. Jeff G.

    what happened to this lawsuit and all the $ raised in these fundraisers? according to paper and NPR Paul dropped his lawsuit last fall. now were into April yet no lawsuit. were we scammed?

  7. Brian DeVore

    Jeff G.:

    Actually, Paul Wotzka and his attorneys are currently digging through thousands of pages of government documents and seeking more documentation through the Government Data Practices Act. Once they have gone through all these documents, Wotzka plans on re-filing the lawsuit.

    As you may recall, last fall both sides to the lawsuit asked that the case be dismissed without prejudice. This means that Wotzka can re-file the lawsuit at any time, which he says he will. Wotzka says one of the reasons he agreed to dismiss the case temporarily in federal court is that the State of Minnesota claims that it was the Department of Employee Relations (DOER) that fired him, and not the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). If that’s true, then he would need to sue DOER and not MPCA. Wotzka and his attorneys want to investigate the respective roles of the various government agencies in the firing decision before re-filing the lawsuit.

    The government has also indicated that there was a secret investigation against Wotzka before the firing. By combing through those thousands of pages of documents, they hope to learn as much about that investigation as possible. Mr. Green, in the past you have called for the results of the investigation to be posted on the Internet. Getting such information out to the public is one of the goals of Wotzka’s lawsuit.

    Finally, as has been reported previously, the government has invoked a legal technicality which would require Wotzka to re-file his lawsuit in state court instead of in federal court. All of this takes an immense amount of time and resources, and Wotzka has vowed to continue the fight, no matter how long it takes.

  8. Jeff G.


    Thanks for the update. As a MN state employee any discipline or firing takes an investigation by DOER before any action is taken. Because it is a personnel matter any results are confidential. I’m sure there was a report(s) which by law have to be provided to the employee who was fired so Mr. Wotzka must know all the specifics why he was fired.

    From what I recall the DOER stated in their dismissal letter (which was publicly released) that Mr. Wotzka destroyed State data. Since he worked on water quality I would guess it was water quality data that was destroyed. I would also guess that DOER has some pretty damaging proof to support such a strong statement and action. Time will tell.

    Again thanks for the update!


  9. Kurt R

    I have known Paul since high school and we were roommates in college and so on. Like his father, Paul is an honest man with integrity. A long time ago we were canoeing the Mississippi right after the spring runoff and discovered a lost and leaking canoe hung up in the branches of a tree. After getting it home, Paul fixed the leak before locating the owner 30 miles upriver and returning it. And now….questions about a scam? Jeez, get real, he grew up in small town Minnesota. Small town Minnesota is where people fix your lost and leaking canoe before tracking you down to give it back. So, I say you can trust him as a person, whatever your opinions on the issues may be.

  10. MPCA employee

    The word going around various state agencies is that well over a decade worth of water quality data was removed (i.e. copied to another device) and destroyed from Paul’s password protected work computer the day he left employment at MDA. This data is critical in quantifying long-term trends in the determination of water quality. Without this data MDA and the State is limited in doing its job, protecting MN water quality.

    Because this is a personnel matter the State cannot tell us why Paul was fired but he can. There were multiple written investigation reports (which by statute he is required to be given) and multiple interviews with him and others involved so he must know why the State fired him. After more then 20-months of time why won’t Paul tell us the reasons the State fired him?

    If all this is true then this criminal act should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  11. Eric S

    if he did destroy water quality data then he should be prosecuted. after all the fundraisers, press conf. etc that he held over the last 2 + years to find out that he may have distroyed the very data he was paid to collect and that would be used to protect our waters is beyond belief.

    what kind of personality disorder would that take to do all this when our water is being degraded by row-crop Ag??

  12. Tim S

    why wont Paul tell us exactly why he was fired if the State cannot? what is he trying to hide after all this time. where did the $$ go from all those “fund raisers”? he told me it was for his leagal fees but he withdrew his case and never refiled.



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