Updated: April 18, 2019 08:44 PM
Governor Tim Walz's office said it was not involved in the controversial decision to hire former DFL Eighth District Congressional candidate Joe Radinovich for a $100,000 job at Iron Range Resources. In a statement, Walz's office said the Governor is ordering an Administration-wide tightening of hiring rules. The IRRR is being accused by some lawmakers of disregarding the hiring process when they hired Radinovich over a potentially more qualified candidate.
The Timberjay Newspaper broke the story Wednesday, and reported that Radinovich was hired in March to a position that IRRR officials made specifically for him, and that the job was posted for applications for only one day. In a statement Thursday, the IRRR disputes the complaints--saying the hiring process was fair. Radinovich "was hired through a competitive process," and was the "best candidate," the statement said.
The Timberjay story says Radinovich's position is permanent, and pays a salary of $100,000 a year.
The IRRR statement described aspects of the hiring process. "Twelve applications were received, and four candidates met the minimum qualifications. Of those four, two candidates withdrew and two candidates were interviewed," the statement said.
The statement from the Governor's office Thursday distanced itself from the hiring, while also stepping in to tighten hiring rules. The statement said, "The Governor's office was not involved in any decision making related to the expedited hiring process and did not direct the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR) or Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) to vary from ordinary hiring procedures."
Walz's office said a recommendation that such positions be posted for 21 days will now become a requirement. "Any exceptions will require direct approval by the MMB commissioner or his designee," the statement from the Governor's office said.
The Timberjay reported the position Radinovich was hired for 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, top agency officials reportedly wanted to hire Radinovich to the position from the beginning.
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," the Timberjay Newspaper reports.
IRRR Commissioner Mark Phillips told the Timberjay Radinovich's hiring was fair, but the Timberjay reports it obtained emails, and other documents that suggest otherwise. The IRRR reportedly took steps to limit the posting of the position to just one day, and Radinovich's name was reportedly listed in the position a week before it was even posted.
"The agency also obtained Radinovich's resume before the job was posted, suggesting that he was aware of the hiring process in advance," the newspaper reports.
Former IRRR Commissioner and current Board member Sandy Layman told WDIO News that she is bothered by the developments. Now a Republican State Representative from Cohasset, Layman said in a statement, "I am deeply troubled by a hiring process at the IRRRB that lacked transparency and fairness...As a former IRRR Commissioner and a member of the board now as a legislator, I have spent years working to improve the image of the agency. This kind of political maneuvering undermines public confidence in the agency and reinforces the worst impressions people hold—fairly or not—about the IRRRB," Layman's statement said.
Radinovich has not responded to WDIO News' request for comment.
Updated: April 18, 2019 08:44 PM
Created: April 17, 2019 09:16 PM
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