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This article highlights a DFL ‘tradition’ of taking credit for cleaning up a mess that they created. When DFL Gov. Walz started filling out his cabinet, he picked Mark Phillips to be the Commissioner of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Then Phillips hired Joe Radinovich, the DFL congressional candidate for CD-8 in 2018, to a cushy political patronage job on the IRRRB that would’ve paid Radinovich a $100,000 annual salary.

Enter our fearless hero, Gov. Walz, to deliver a tongue-lashing for the ages. Gov. Walz said “I expect you to model openness, transparency, inclusivity and servant leadership. In this situation, you fell far short of my expectations.”

Gov. Walz, you fell far short of our expectations. How dare you appoint a commissioner that’s that corrupt. How dare you not do your due diligence before picking a commissioner to lead a board known for its corruption. This article highlights one instance of IRRRB corruption:

It’s an issue we’ve raised before, as recently as last year. The principle of the separation of powers that guides our government at both the state and federal levels, would appear to prohibit the structure now in place at the IRRRB, where a board comprised primarily of sitting legislators has authority over an executive branch agency. The legislative auditor, in his report this past week, agreed that the current makeup of the board leaves the agency vulnerable to a court challenge on constitutional grounds.

But the makeup of the current board raises other concerns beyond a simple legal dispute. By giving local legislators control of the purse strings for millions of dollars in funding for community and economic development projects within the Taconite Relief Area, the IRRRB helps to cement the status quo rather than encourage new ideas and leadership at a time when alternative visions are definitely needed. As we’ve noted before, giving Iron Range legislators outsized political clout tends to stifle dissenting voices from other elected officials in our region for fear that projects in their communities will be denied funds. There are reasons why the political class on the Iron Range marches in virtual lockstep to the agenda of the region’s legislators, and their control over IRRRB funds is certainly one of the most powerful.

This ‘arrangement’ put legislators in charge of both the appropriations process in the legislature and the handing out of loans from the IRRRB. It’s unconstitutional to be a member of the executive branch and the legislative branch.

Had Gov. Walz paid attention to details like that, we wouldn’t have had these problems. Gov. Walz, this is as much your fault for not paying attention to the people you hired as it is Commissioner Phillips’ fault for not prioritizing integrity in the hiring process.

Saying that the IRRRB is corrupt is understatement. Thanks to this investigation, that corruption has gotten exposed.

The article starts by saying “For more than 20 years, Sandy Layman, of Grand Rapids, has worked to convince lawmakers in St. Paul that the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation is more than a revolving door of political patronage for Iron Range DFLers. Layman, now a Republican House member, first served on the IRRR board in the 1990s and later became commissioner of the agency under Gov. Tim Pawlenty. ‘One of my goals has always been to depoliticize the agency,’ said Layman during a recent interview with the Timberjay. ‘It has a highly partisan reputation in St. Paul.'”

It goes further:

Which is why Layman says she is so frustrated with the agency’s recent hiring of Joe Radinovich, the unsuccessful 2018 DFL candidate for the U.S. House in Minnesota’s Eighth District. Radinovich was hired in early March to a highly-paid, permanent position that IRRR officials appear to have created specifically for him. While political appointments are not unusual in state government, and are typically temporary, the kind of job created for Radinovich, known as a “permanent classified” position, is supposed to be nonpolitical and is subject to state hiring guidelines designed to ensure a fair and competitive process in which state workers are hired on merit rather than politics.

Yet an investigation by the Timberjay found substantial evidence that the IRRR’s process, in this instance, fell short of that goal, and that top agency officials sought from the beginning to offer Radinovich a plum new position, with a salary of $100,000 per year in addition to the state’s handsome benefits package. In so doing, the agency sought exemption to sharply limit the posting of the position and appeared to pass over a female candidate for the position with far more relevant experience and education than Radinovich brings to the job.

Radinovich’s hiring comes on the heels of the appointment of Jason Metsa as the agency’s deputy commissioner, which is considered a political appointment and was not subject to the typical state hiring process. Metsa is an Iron Range DFLer who ran unsuccessfully for his party’s nomination for the Eighth District seat.

If that sounds like it’s on the up-and-up, then you’re likely from Chicago. This definitely doesn’t sound like everything was on the up-and-up:

IRRR Commissioner Mark Phillips acknowledges that he sought early on to hire Radinovich at his agency and initially considered hiring the Crosby native as deputy commissioner. “It really was down to Jason or Joe to be deputy,” he said. When the job went to Metsa, Phillips began exploring options to offer Radinovich a different position.

Gov. Walz, what’s your reaction to this? Will you fire Commissioner Phillips? Will you excoriate Rep. Radinovich for being that corrupt? As a former DFL state legislator, Rep. Radinovich knew civil service laws and the IRRRB. Hell, he was a member of the IRRRB board as a member of the Iron Range legislative delegation.

Politically speaking, Radinovich is damaged goods now that he’s identified as gaming the system. He’s bounced around from being a DFL legislator to being the chief of staff for one of the Twin Cities mayors to running Rick Nolan’s congressional campaigns to running for Nolan’s seat before losing to Pete Stauber.