Obituary: Patrick Flahaven, 78, has served as secretary of the Minnesota Senate for 36 years-Twin Cities

2021-11-24 02:44:20 By : Mr. Michael Yan

Patrick Flahaven, the long-term secretary of the Minnesota State Senate, has served as its chief administrative officer and referee on court proceedings for decades. He died of complications from a stroke at the St. Paul Regional Hospital on Sunday. He was 78 years old that day.

From his election as Senate secretary in 1973 until his retirement in 2009, Flahaven stood at the chamber's front desk under the president's dais, announcing bills and roll call votes with his powerful voice and controlling the flow of paper. Professional staff, handle its legislation and serve as parliamentarians.

"Pat is the incarnation of the Senate. For some people, he is the Senate," said then Senate DFL Majority Leader Larry Bogmiller when Flahavin announced his retirement.

During 36 years of generations and political changes, he served as the Chief of Staff of the Senate. He was first hired as an assistant secretary in 1971. This is the longest annual meeting in the history of the Chamber of Commerce. A special meeting was held from May to October, which produced the "Minnesota Miracle", which is a landmark law. , By increasing state taxes to increase funding for schools and reduce reliance on schools. Regarding local property taxes.

In the 1970s, the Democratic Liberal Party controlled the Senate for the first time since the Civil War. Young legislators from both parties brought new ideas and passed many reforms. These include the overhaul of outdated probate and pension laws, as well as the passage of no-fault divorce and auto insurance. Flahavin called those early years the most exciting period of his career.

During that decade, the workload of Senate staff also increased, as the biennial set of state regulations increased from four to eight.

Other major institutional changes that occurred under Flahaven's supervision were the expansion of technology, opening up legislative procedures to the public through television, and making most legislative documents available on the Internet. He also led the professionalization of Senate staff, providing legislators with more independent and in-depth information than before, when they relied heavily on the guidance of lobbyists and governor staff.

Flahavin took over an office that was previously known for being partisan and not cooperating with the public and the press. He made it more nonpartisan and "helped the state government be more open and accountable", former Vanguard Press and Minnie Apollis Tribune reporter, editor and editorial writer Steven Donfeld wrote in an email.

"When I think of the word'civil servant,' the image of Pat Flahaven comes to mind," Dornfield said.

Former Senate DFL Majority Leader Roger Moe stated that Flahaven respects everyone and is recognized as a top legislative professional nationwide. As chairman of the committee that revised the Mason Legislative Procedure Manual in 1988, he lays down rules for state legislators across the country.

Not only that, Moe said, "Pat is a great person as a person."

The Republicans agreed. "As a senator who walks into the chamber every day, Pat will greet us with a cordial smile and a warm feeling, where you belong," said Rochester Senator David Senjam. "He also expressed to us his respect for the institutions we serve."

Senjem added that the Republican senator knew Flahaven was the person appointed by the DFL, "but we have never seen it. He did not show a preference for Democrats or Republicans. He always played directly in the middle."

Vlahavan is also respected for his calm style and institutional knowledge.

"What happened is that Pat totally fell in love with the Senate and the legislature-its drama, its personality, its work, its struggle, its humanity. The Senate also liked him," former Senate Speaker Jack David Said.

Flahavin was born in Wilmar on November 21, 1943, grew up in the Sauk Center, received a bachelor's degree from St Thomas College, and two master's degrees from Metropolitan State University. Before joining the staff of the State Senate, he served as a legislative assistant to the late U.S. Representative Joseph Karth. He spent most of his adult life near Mount Summit in São Paulo.

"Pat is a kind and caring person. He has a great sense of humor and a lot of Irish irony," said former Senate staff and lobbyist John Cole. "The most remarkable thing is his courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity at the end of his life.... He never complains.... He is Hemingway's definition of courage:'Elegance under pressure.'"

Flahavin contracted throat cancer while serving as secretary of the Senate. His wife of more than 40 years, Maureen, died of cancer in 2015. Patrick suffered from cancer complications, which forced him to rely on feeding tubes for nutrition and fluids in recent years.

Flahaven's son Sean (Emily Peters), grandsons William and Ciaran, and many members of the extended family survived. In addition to his wife, his parents C. Beatrice and William Flahaven also died early.

The memorial service plan is to be determined.

Sign up for newsletters and alerts

When you post comments, please respect other commenters and other opinions. Our goal for article reviews is to provide space for civilized, informative, and constructive dialogue. We reserve the right to delete any comments that we believe are defamatory, rude, insulting, hateful, off-topic or reckless to the community. View our full terms of use here.