Posted: 09/28/07 14:10
by Dave Mindeman
A little hodge podge of politics for the week:
I-35 Bridge Construction Firm Has New Owner
Flatiron Construction, the firm that won the bid for the I-35 Bridge project, is under new ownership. The sale had been pending for awhile before the bidding process but the new owners had not been divulged. The sale is final now and it turns out to be a German firm named Hochtief. The sale price was $240 million.... or about the same price as the bridge contract. What is interesting about the history of Hochtief is that during the 30's, the management were Nazis and they were the contractors for Hitler's bunker, Wolf's Lair, and most of the German "Atlantic Wall" during WWII. No special comments.... just found it interesting.
Pawlenty Names Dr. Sanne Magnan As Health Commissioner
I can't say I am deeply impressed with this choice. She made a point to say she is pro-life and believes in life at conception. She also comes from a heavy insurance institution background. Her position at ICSI (Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement) is supposed to improve outcomes between clinics and the insurers; but the principle sponsors for ICSI are (surprise) Medica, Healthpartners, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield with the main associate sponsors of Met Health Plan, Preferred One, and UCare Minnesota. Who would you think they listen to more? I don't see any big policy changes forthcoming out of this department although there will probably be the appearance of more openness.
I-35 Bridge Shows MnDOT Leadership Problems
MnDot, on the whole, has a lot of very competent people. I have known or met a few of them and their knowledge has impressed me. However, if the leadership gives no direction, then the whole department suffers the consequences. Molnau is completely inept at this job and I hope the Minnesota Senate votes her down. The issues on transportation are just too important for Minnesota's economy. Since the bridge went down on August 1st, what exactly has been accomplished on the transportation front at the state level? The answer is nothing. We continue to look for revenue bandaids.... more projects are getting delayed.... and the promised Federal acceleration of funding has not happened. We didn't even get a controversy free bidding process. This is not MnDot staffing problems... this is a leadership problem. Pawlenty won't hold anyone accountable; the Senate will have to.
Hillary Clinton scored again when Tim Russert tried to trick her with that terrorist hypothetical. She has been impressive in the debate process.... something I thought might be a weakness for her. Barak Obama has had some problems but he still is close enough to make a run. Edwards taking of public financing is a clear indicator that fund raising has not gone well. The Hillary juggernaut is again in play.
Republicans still look kind of mushy. No clear leader.... everybody has flaws and problems. McCain is coming back but has a lot of ground to make up. Giuliani will ride 9/11 as far as he can, but social conservatives will bolt if he is the nominee. Romney has started to fade -- hard for long time conservatives to trust him and Mormon religion is a tough sell to evangelicals who aren't above religious bigotry. Thompson is kind of floating along -- the lazy label looks real. Seems to be looking to mop up after the mess. As I mentioned before, even with odds overwhelmingly against it, this GOP convention could become a 4 way split and end up as the first brokered convention in decades.