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Iron Range state agency hiring decision questioned

ST. PAUL, MN – The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation is coming under fire for how it hired former eighth congressional district candidate Joe Radinovich.

The IRRR hired Joe Radinovich in early March with a six figure salary plus state benefits for a position made specifically him, Ely-based newspaper The TimberJay reported.

The TimberJay found the agency reportedly disregarded the hiring process when it hired Radinovich over a potentially more qualified, female candidate.

According to documents obtained by the newspaper, the Governor Walz administration circumvented its normal hiring process to bring on Democrat Joe Radinovich for a civil service job that pays $100,000.

IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips told the TimberJay he sought early on to hire Radinovich. Phillips insisted the process was quote “fair and competitive.”

The Governor’s office acknowledged it deviated from its normal hiring procedures by shortening the time it was posted from the usual 21 days to just 24 hours.

In a statement, Walz insists the hire was made without the governor’s knowledge or direction and that going forward the administration will require all classified management jobs be posted for 21 days.

The IRRR reportedly had Radinovich’s name listed in an organizational chart a week before it was even posted.

The agency also obtained his resume before the job was posted.

According to the TimberJay, the only other candidate interviewed was Lorrie Janatopoulos, who in December was a semi-finalist for IRRRB commissioner. She previously assisted the IRRR in strategic planning.

Lawmakers, including former IRRRB commissioner Republican Rep. Sandy Layman is left puzzled by the hiring practice.

“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,” Layman wrote in a statement.

This isn’t Radinovich’s first time at the IRRR.

He was hired as a political appointee after he lost his house seat in the 2014 election.

When reached by phone Thursday, Radinovich declined to comment and asked we reach out to the commissioner with any questions.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director

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