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Gov. Tim Walz changes policy for state agencies after allegation of 'crony hiring' in Iron Range

DFLer Joe Radinovich was hired by the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.
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Gov. Tim Walz has implemented a new policy for state agencies after the appointment of a DFL candidate to a government position led to complaints of "crony hiring."

The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR) recently hired Joe Radinovich, who ran unsuccessfully as the DFL candidate for the 8th District in the November mid-terms, to a managerial position that pays $100,000-a-year.

But as the Duluth News Tribune reports, the appointment was made after the IRRR received permission by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget to post the opening for a single day.

The Timberjay reports that the position appears to have been created specifically for Radinovich, and is a "permanent classified" position that is supposed to be nonpolitical and subject to state hiring guidelines to ensure a fair process.

What's more, the newspaper found "substantial evidence" that the IRRR passed over a female candidate with more experience and education in favor of Radinovich.

The Office of Gov. Tim Walz told BMTN it was not involved in any decision-making related to Radinovich's hire, nor was it involved in the budget office's decision to vary its ordinary hiring procedures.

Nonetheless, Gov. Walz's office has announced a government-wide hiring policy in the wake of Radinovich's appointment, that will require "all classified managerial positions of this kind to be posted for at least 21 days."

"Any exceptions will require direct approval by the MMB Commissioner or his designee," Gov. Walz's spokesman Teddy Tschann said.

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Gov. Walz's office also cited its record of hiring a diverse workforce, saying: "The Governor is committed to hiring the most qualified candidates and building an Administration that reflects the diversity of Minnesota. Over two thirds, 67%, of the Governor’s staff is female and nearly half, 47%, of the Governor’s appointees to boards and commissions are people of color or indigenous Minnesotans."

Among those raising concerns about Radinovich's appointment was Rep. Sandy Layman (R–Cohasset), herself a former commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).

"I am deeply troubled by a hiring process at the IRRRB that lacked transparency and fairness," she said in a statement.

"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."

For more, check out The Timberjay's investigation into the Iron Range controversy.

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