Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tinklenberg's MnDOT more corrupt than Molnau's?

Some will say that those who spend a great deal of time in public service, always have baggage. While that may be true to some extent, said baggage can usually fit nicely under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.

Former Transportation Commissioner and 6th CD DFL candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg's baggage will barely fit in the hull of the DC 9 he will fly on to Washington DC for a December 29th fundraiser with the Transportation lobby.

It appears as though I have began to agitate some. Some believe that it's the job of MDE, Residual Forces and other right wing blogs to expose the shortcomings of a DFL candidate.

It comes back to a post I read about a week ago about the fall of Michael Barrett. Right wing bloggers exposed him because they felt it was better to expose faults on their own terms, institute corrective action before the lefty bloggers could take him to task.

Hence, my posts on Mr Tinklenberg. The most important race for me in 2008 is the Congressional race. I think Congresswoman Bachmann is vulnerable and that the right candidate will be able to fulfill a storied Minnesota blogs goal of Dumping Michele Bachmann.

The past will haunt Tinklenberg. There was a fraction of dirt out there on Patty Wetterling and Bachmann and her henchmen (Hellier and his crew), made Patty look pretty bad. The dirt out there on Tinklenberg will make Patty's attack seem insignificant.

Recall Tinklenberg's no bid contracts at MnDOT. And he thinks he can hold Congresswoman Bachmann accountable?

Wasteful spending was also a significant problem during Tinklenberg's reign. As noted in the January 21, 2003 edition of the Startribune, a story titled "INSIDE MnDOT;Motivation can be costly at MnDOT;Spending on conferences, travel and entertainment adds up," describes some of the waste.
Last year, for instance, the 1,200 or so who attended the conference at the Radisson South Hotel were treated to an hourlong speech titled "The Rise, Fall and Rise of Harley-Davidson." The speaker, a marketing consultant, was paid $10,750.

A speech the next day was titled "Build a Bridge . . ." But it had nothing to do with concrete and steel. Rather, taxpayers spent $14,045 for engineers to spend an hour with a motivational speaker who writes about communication between the sexes.

While communication between the sexes is important in workplaces, it would appear to at least me that the spending was a bit exorbitant. It gets better...
MnDOT has increased its spending on the event by about 61 percent, from $136,173 in 1999 to $219,300 last year, according to records obtained by the Star Tribune under the Minnesota Data Practices Act.

During the past four conventions, MnDOT spent a total of $664,231 more than it recovered from vendors' fees and other income, records show.

Keynote speaker contracts for the four years totaled $114,430.

Some examples from the 2001 conference:
- $11,650 for a former ski champion's motivational speech.
- $12,950 for a team-building consultant who talked about ways managers can use fun to revitalize workers.
- $5,000 for a speech on "Intelligent Risk Taking."

MnDOT has canceled its 2003 conference, citing budget constraints.

$664,000 is a pretty healthy deficit. It's a nice free ride for a lot of folks! $5,000 for someone to tell dry jokes?

And then the Alaska trek...
In addition to its own conferences, MnDOT participates in the annual conference of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The 2002 conference was held in Alaska in October. The agency initially sought permission from the Department of Employee Relations to send 25 people, noting that Minnesota would be host of the conference this year.

Bill Eisele, a division manager in the Employee Relations Department, cautioned MnDOT about sending so many. "I realize the necessity of your [conference] committee chairs going since you will be hosting the conference next year. However, have you considered the negative press if this ever got out?" he wrote in a July e-mail to Bruce Biser, assistant director of management operations.

Eisele said MnDOT's travel request was the largest that he had encountered. MnDOT officials eventually persuaded the Employee Relations Department to authorize travel for as many as three dozen employees, he said.

MnDOT sent 34 people at a cost of about $100,000, records show.

Am I nitpicking? Perhaps. But a pattern has emerged.

Running on holding Congresswoman Bachmann accountable when one has lacked accountability is a recipe for disaster.

While former MnDOT’s director of homeland security and emergency management Sonia Morphew Pitt allegedly bilked taxpayers out of more than $26,000 in compensation under Carol Molnau's watch it's quite clear to me that Molnau's incompetent leadership of MnDOT rivals the corrupt nature of Tinklenberg's MnDOT tenure.

I'm not sure what I am more disappointed about. The anointing of a candidate with a severe baggage problem or the fact that no one seems to care about it...

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