Friday, December 21, 2007

Re-think the Tink:Backroom deal 101?

H/T to Eric Z for coming up with the "Re-think the Tink" line!

From the January 20, 2003 Startribune article "INSIDE MnDOT; Watchdogs or nitpickers? Two agencies fight it out; The Transportation and Administration departments have a history of feuding over the final say on outside contracts."

On Feb. 15, 2001, Fisher visited Tinklenberg in his office to discuss contracting issues. It was just the two of them, Fisher later told his staff in an e-mail. Fisher said Tinklenberg asked whether certain MnDOT officials could sign consulting contracts without going through Administration, "to move some things that are 'hot' currently."

At about the same time, Fisher, a technology buff who had been vice president of and general counsel to a telecommunications firm, was pushing a bill to establish a fund that would pay for statewide computer integration and related activities. He wanted MnDOT to contribute a fifth of the revenue it receives from leasing unused space on radio towers along highways.

Fisher sent Allin a handwritten note saying Administration should consider advancing MnDOT's contracts when "both the Governor and Legislature are pressing hard for MnDOT to move speedily with road/bridge work. This pertains specifically and solely to the $500 million appropriated in the 2000-2001 session."

Allin said he interpreted that as a directive "to go easier on MnDOT."

Fisher said he wasn't suggesting a free ride. "I wanted to make sure we removed doubt about Admin being a roadblock," he said. "It did not say treat them differently in terms of compromising principles."

In April, records show, Fisher agreed to fast-track MnDOT's consulting contracts and to give two MnDOT employees authority to sign most of them on his behalf.

Tinklenberg agreed to give 20 percent of the tower lease money to Fisher's fledgling technology fund and to help him with other technology projects when possible, the records show.

Finally, the two commissioners agreed to "assure that no agency representative criticizes the other agency to any non-agency party."

In an interview, Fisher said the fact that the issues were listed in the same document does not mean one was traded for the other.

"I can tell you . . . there is no context or connection," he said. "They are just a collection of issues."

What happens to the state's watchdog's?

Allin was fired by Fisher in March 2002 after after the Star Tribune reported that Allin and his staff had written memos strongly critical of MnDOT contracting practices. He was reinstated after he got a lawyer, although he failed to retain his title as Assistant Commissioner.

The story indicates that Tinklenberg resigned in October (2002) and did not provide funds to Fisher's fund.

Regardless, the pattern of no bid contacts and back room deals makes Tinklenberg vulnerable in a General Election.

If one thinks Congresswoman Bachmann and her cronies can't find this stuff, we're kidding ourselves.

Why bring this stuff out now?

Tinklenberg's campaign chose to use the Startribune as a source of reputable information, after their supporters chose to attack bloggers who are working to vet candidates. Citing Startribune stories from the past provides a greater perspective.

The Karl Rove modus operandi is to utilize one's perceived strength and expose it as their most glaring weakness. Regardless of what AM 950 Air America or the other apologists suggest, Tinklenberg's transportation past leaves him vulnerable.

Secondly, my intent is to ensure that the strongest DFLers are endorsed in 2008. I fear that the Elwyn's past will haunt him in the General Election. Bachmann exposes this info in May 08, attacks, attacks, attacks, making Elwyn Tinklenberg "Mark Kennedy relevant" by mid-August.

Bachmann would not need as much money to retain the 6th and the money gets "filtered" to GOP candidates running against Walz, Sarvi, and Madia, hurting the overall DFL cause.

The bottom line is, I want to win! Don't you?

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