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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL)

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Monday, October 1, 2007
ST. PAUL - Rep. Frank Hornstein and Senator Scott Dibble have called upon Governor Pawlenty to terminate Lt. Governor Carol Molnau's role as Commissioner of Mn/DOT, as well as other top Mn/DOT officials. Hornstein and Dibble cited numerous examples of incompetence exhibited by Molnau during her tenure as commissioner, including severe funding problems and resulting delays on the Crosstown project, MnDOT's emergency manager's absence from the state from the state following the 35W Bridge collapse, and gross financial mismanagement within the department. Horstein and Dibble were joined by State Senate Transportation chair Steve Murphy, DFL –Red Wing, Senator Kathy Saltzman, DFL–Woodbury, Senator Jim Carlson, DFL–Eagan, and Senator Rick Olseen, DFL-Harris, in their call for Pawlenty to replace Molnau. "The list of mismanagement and problems with MnDOT continues to grow and the Lt. Governor fails to take responsibility - that is why we're asking the Governor to dissmiss her," said Hornstein, who is Chair of the House Transportation and Transit Policy Subcommittee. "Minnesota deserves a real transportation professional at the top of the department charged with making sure our roads and bridges our safe." "The public trust in Carol Molnau's ability to lead MnDOT is broken. We must demand accountability from our leaders, " said Dibble, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and Chair of Transit Subcommittee. "We're hoping the Governor will hold Molnau accountable for the laundry list of blunders at MnDOT and make changes that are needed to begin restoring public confidence in our state's transportation agency." The lawmakers also questioned whether a lack of sufficient engineering expertise in management contributed to inaction in addressing road and bridge safety. Even if the Governor fails to replace Molnau and others at the top at MnDOT, Hornstein and Dibble called for a thorough investigation of the practices and actions of the past several years. "MnDOT should be led by professionals competent and experienced in engineering management, not solely focused on partisan politics," said Hornstein. "Given their abysmal track record, I believe an immediate and objective investigation of MnDOT's management practices is in order to make sure the top priority – the safety and adequacy of Minnesota's entire transportation system - is being addressed suitably." "Minnesota deserves a proactive response to the mounting transportation concerns facing our state," added Dibble. "I hope the Governor will be a responsive leader on this issue. That starts with taking appropriate action to remove Carol Molnau as the head of a transportation agency that has lost its credibility under her watch." Hornstein, Dibble and other lawmakers calling for Molnau's termination made their remarks in a small park near the Lafayette Bridge, in St. Paul last Thursday, September 27th. Significant rust and structural damage to the Lafayette Bridge is glaring visual example of faulty maintenance by MnDOT under Molnau. The Lafayette Bridge is one of 42 trunk highway bridges in Minnesota with a worse sufficiency rating than the collapsed I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis. -30-