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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sandy Layman (R)

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RELEASE: Statement from Rep. Sandy Layman on Timberjay IRRRB report

Thursday, April 18, 2019

ST. PAUL, MN—Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, former Commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) from 2003-2011, and current member of the IRRR Board in her capacity as a legislator representing part of the IRRR service area, issued the following statement regarding a report today from the Timberjay newspaper about questionable hiring moves by the agency in hiring former legislator and 8th Congressional District candidate Joe Radinovich to a top post.

"I am deeply troubled by a hiring process at the IRRRB that lacked transparency and fairness," Layman said. "As a former IRRRB 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.

"I also am puzzled about the conflict between the governor's office public statement to the Timberjay and the internal documents that suggest his administration was a driver of the expedited process. I hope we will get some clarity on that, and work on a bipartisan basis to put a stop to the questionable hiring practices identified in the Timberjay report."

The Timberjay report found that "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 position, which carries a salary of $100,000 along with a generous benefit package, "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."

While Governor Walz's office announced a change in policy to prevent future expedited postings, and denied involvement in "any decisionmaking related to the expedited hiring process," the Timberjay report quoted an email from IRRR Human Resources Director Barbara Sanders that stated (emphasis added) "[i]f the posting of this vacancy, for not more than 24 hours, is not approved, IRRR will not be able to fully comply with the direction and expectation of the Governor’s office." A copy of that document is attached (all highlights and markings, with the exception of the initials next to the HR Directors name) are not part of the original document).

While the story stated that IRRR Commissioner Mark Phillips "insists that the process was fair and competitive," "emails and other documents obtained by the Timberjay through a public records request, suggest otherwise. Not only did IRRR officials take steps to limit the posting of the position to just one day, an organizational chart created by IRRR staff— produced nearly a week before the job was posted— showed Radinovich’s name already listed in the position."

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