Strib Political Reporter Backtracks on DFL Cronyism Expose

He might be called Metro Joe but it was a small Northern Minnesota weekly that broke the expose that the big city newspapers are just catching up to. Former state representative and failed congressional candidate Joe Radinovich was recently hired by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation state agency under circumstances that were questionable at best.

The Timberjay newspaper out of Ely, Minnesota gathered all of the juicy details of the first scandal of the newly installed Tim Walz administration. It turns out IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips hired Radinovich for a six-figure civil service post and cut corners every step of the way.

The job was posted for less than 24 hours, tailor-remade to Radinovich’s background, a more qualified female candidate was passed over, and Radinovich was listed on the agency’s official org chart before the job was even advertised.

Veteran political reporter J.Patrick Coolican of the Star Tribune was initially dismissive of the story. In Coolican’s daily Morning Hot Dish political tip sheet from March 27, Coolican blew off the story.

“Range dudes: Where are they now? Sorta old news but former Rep. Jason Metsa was named deputy commissioner of the IRRRB. Joe Radinovich, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, also landed there. They squared off in the DFL primary of that congressional race. A Republican groused to me about these patronage jobs. My reply: Win some elections.”

[Editor’s note: Republicans did win the election with Pete Stauber comfortably defeating Radinovich, which is why Metro Joe was looking for a job in the first place.]

Following the Timberjay’s bombshell report published yesterday, Coolican has apparently changed his mind on the story’s importance. On the Star Tribune’s website this morning, the headline over Coolican’s story reads “IRRRB Accused of Cronyism in Hiring DFL Political Operative.”

As longtime Minnesotans will know, “IRRRB Accused of Cronyism” is a dog bites man story. Expect attention to shift to Gov. Walz’s office, which signed off on the hiring, to determine who knew what and when.

Coolican’s readers would be better served to follow his current advice to “please check back for updates on this story.”