City council member files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

Austin City Council Member At Large Wayne P. Goodnature has filed for bankruptcy.

According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court-District of Minnesota, the voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy action was filed Feb. 12.

The list of creditors includes banks and credit card companies.

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Among the local creditors are Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Blooming Prairie, Mower County Employees Credit Union and Develop-ment Corporation of Austin.

Also named as a creditor is the city of Red Wing.

"Yes, I have filed a bankruptcy petition," he said. "The circumstances which gave rise to this filing were directly related to the fact that a major company I was doing business with and had been doing substantial business for two years unilaterally and without any agreement or consent on my part reneged on a valid, enforceable contract, which, in turn, caused my business serious financial distress, leaving me no alternative."

Goodnature's business, PST-Our Computer Connection at 324 North Main St. in downtown Austin was launched after he failed to win reelection as Mower County Sheriff in 1994.

Goodnature said despite the business setback of losing a large client, PST is "my company and thusly it is my responsibility to avoid something like this from happening."

"I take full responsibility for the bankruptcy and apologize to any bank or lending institution that will be hurt," he said.

Goodnature emphasized PST is still in business, serving clients and will continue to do that as long as possible.

"I am in business and I will continue to operate my business at its present location," he said.

The bankruptcy filing first appeared a month ago in a public record document listing financial, real estate and other civil matters.

Last November, Goodnature was elected to the council member At-Large position, representing the entire city.

Among his auxiliary duties as a council member are serving on the Austin Housing and Redeveloment Authority Board of Commissioners, the Austin-Mower County Joint Airport Zoning Board and Port Authority of Austin.

Two other public figures expressed caution and understanding for the dilemma Goodnature faces.

Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz revealed she has received "several phone calls" about the council member's bankruptcy.

However, the mayor said the attention "goes with the job."

"This attention is something that is a part of public life," Rietz said. "It's something you can expect when you run for public office. Things that would otherwise be considered private become the public's business because you're a public official."

She also said the voters will decide whether or not the action and how it is handled interfere with the council members' public service.

"It's the voters who are the judges in something like this. The voters will ultimately decide," she said.

George Brophy, president and CEO of the DCA, said, "These things happen."

According to Brophy, the DCA acknowledges some of the businesses it helps are "high risk" ventures.

"We knew at the time this business was a high-risk business," he said of the loan made to Goodnature for his computer business.

He also said, "It's always sad to see a local business impacted like this."

Despite a "sense of stress and strangeness" over the collapse of Goodnature's business, Brophy said the DCA has reserves to cover its losses.

However, he also said he "hopes" Goodnature will "work out something that is appropriate" before the bankruptcy action is final.

Goodnature said he takes full responsibility for his actions.

"I'm a risk-taker. I always have been," he said. "There's big gains to be made in taking risks, but there's also enormous losses."

The next official action is a hearing Monday in St. Paul. A meeting of creditors is scheduled March 21. The deadline for creditors to object to the discharge of debts is May 20.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at