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Come Saturday Morning: Smilin’ Tim Does It Again

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Good God. Is Tim Pawlenty determined to make it impossible to admit to being a Minnesotan?

Let’s see:

There’s his determination to buff up his paleocon credentials (and insure his place as McCain’s VP pick) by shutting down state government by refusing to sign a budget.

There’s his insistence on placating David Strom of the Minnesota (Rich) Taxpayer’s League by keeping his disastrously destructive 2003 tax cuts in place and continuing to shift more of the tax burden from rich people and onto poor people in the form of clever tricks like his infamous “fees”.

Then we find out that his precious tax cuts, which were touted as a way to promote job growth in Minnesota, haven’t done diddly for it: Minnesota’s unemployment average, which under Democratic governors and legislatures was the lowest in the nation, is now, for the first time since records started being kept three decades ago, HIGHER than the national average — a fact that shocks and saddens those of us Minnesotans who remember the prosperity we enjoyed during Wendy Anderson’s time as governor over thirty years ago.

But of course Pawlenty’s administration still is very “business-friendly”, which apparently translates into “workers can just bleep off and die — literally“:

The Star Tribune reported Sunday that the Health Department discovered in early 2006 that 35 more miners were stricken with mesothelioma in 1997-2005 — twice as many miner cancer cases as discovered in the previous nine-year period. But health officials suppressed the information while they planned more research. They eventually announced two more planned studies, and the news of the 35 miners, in March of this year.

The delay prompted bitter criticism of the department by outside public health experts, the United Steelworkers, which represents most miners, and state legislators. They said the state’s 4,000 Iron Range miners had a right to know of the cancer findings right away.

Mesothelioma typically occurs in the lung lining, and it develops decades after exposure to asbestos fibers. It is always fatal.

But of course it’s all OK, because Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach has apologized.   Awww, how sweet.

Mandernach, by the way, was apparently picked to be Health Commish four years ago by Pawlenty because she’s really, really anti-choice.   How anti-choice?  Anti-choice to the point where she let the local anti-choice group, MCCL, use her agency to push the “abortion causes breast cancer” lie.   But I digress.

In any event,  Pawlenty says that her actions (or lack thereof) with regard to the dead miners do not rise “to the level of termination”. Funny thing: As Tom Elko points over at The Sky Blue Waters Report, Pawlenty said the same thing about the actions of now-former Minnesota Pollution Control Authority commissioner (and former 3M environmental manager) Cheryl Corrigan, “despite the fact that she suppressed research into the 3M chemicals that would, years later, be found in East Metro [St. Paul and suburbs] wells and local lakes. Corrigan was unceremoniously dismissed four months before Pawlenty’s reelection.” As Elko points out, Pawlenty should have to answer as to why the consistent suppression of health information, vital to the public interest, is occurring in more than one of the state’s agencies.

And now, as sort of a self-serving cherry on this craptacular sundae, we find out that he’s determined to install a private-college student (and hyper-conservative activist), Luke Hellier, as a “trustee” in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, thus taking the fox-in-the-henhouse concept to hitherto unexplored depths. And it’s not the first time that T-Paw’s done this: He pulled a similar maneuver four years ago when he shoved unqualified conservative activist Tyler Despins down the MnSCU’s throat without even bothering to check with the Minnesota State University Students Association, as he’s supposed to do by law.  [UPDATE:  It has come to my attention that Pawlenty’s fan base among the local blogger and radio community is up in arms that Hellier’s being picked on by us mean ol’ liberals.  Of course, what they don’t mention is that none of us liberals had any complaints about the credentials of Adam Weigold, who like Hellier is a conservative Republican, but who (unlike Hellier) actually attended MnSCU schools and worked with the statewide student association.]

Wow, cronyism AND contempt for the law (not to mention the lives of ordinary citizens): Sounds a lot like a certain Republican currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, doesn’t it?

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