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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

AG Swanson discusses first eight months in office

There was an interesting interview on Minnesota Public Radio this morning with Attorney General Lori Swanson on her first eight months in office. The interview, conducted by Kerri Miller on the Midmorning show, made for very interesting listening. Overall, I thought Miller did a good job in asking some difficult questions about Swanson's stance on the attempted unionization of employees at her office, morale issues at her office and other management troubles that have cropped up in the early part of Swanson's term. Swanson resorted to nonanswers on a number of these inquiries. (One irate caller actually compared her evasive answers on some of these questions to those of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in his testimony before Congress.)

On the other hand, I thought Swanson did a very good job discussing some of the priorities of the AG's Office, including going after predatory lenders. And I do have to give her credit for at least putting herself out there to be confronted by some hard questions -- including fielding a phone call from a none-too-pleased AFSCME official.

But why not listen to the entire interview yourself and see what you think? The interview can be accessed on the MPR site by clicking here.


Joe Citizen said...

Did anyone else hear Attorney General Lori Swanson lie on public radio last Wednesday? I know the media has more immediate priorities right now, but I hope they follow-up and don't let her get away with this.

I could not believe what a defensive and evasive attorney general we have. I completely agreed with the caller who compared her to Alberto Gonzales. While I was a little amused to hear her dodge and duck questions about Mike Hatch, my jaw dropped open when she lied to Kerri Miller by claiming she was "not aware" that a majority of the attorneys in her office had signed cards to unionize. Even Kerri Miller seemed surprised at the outright denial. Ms. Swanson probably would have gotten away with it too, if not for the call from the AFSCME representative who said they do have cards from a majority of the attorneys, that Ms. Swanson knows about it, and has refused to meet with the union.

I suppose we shouldn't be shocked. Hasn't Ms. Swanson's entire professional career consisted of working exclusively for Mike "I didn't call you a republican whore" Hatch?

Shame on you Lori Swanson. Shame on the media for giving her such a pass, and shame on us for electing her.

Gene said...

She sounded very shifty and dishonest. I have no idea why an elected official can't answer a question because she is on "public radio" and her staff might be listening.

Anonymous said...

Many of us following the developments in the AG's office would love to get away from the subject of Mike Hatch and focus on the next 3.5 years of leadership and stewardship of this valuable state office by our AG Lori Swanson, who is clearly a very intelligent woman. Sadly, however book smart she is, AG Swanson is clearly not people smart. She is painfully awkward, rare for someone in political life.
Listening to AG Swanson's interview on MPR, it was hard not to discern the similarities in how she and Mike Hatch answered questions. It is also hard to ignore the fact that she is 40 years old and has essentially never worked for anyone other than Mike Hatch in her entire life. Is it OK to be a complete jerk if you are a man and not OK if you are a woman?
What the employees seem to be saying is - why not sit down and talk - or "meet and confer" in the lingo of employment law. Her lack of awareness of the status of the union organizing effort did not some congruent with her allegedly micromanaging nature.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that Swanson, who otherwise seems poised for a promising career in DFL politics, insists on alienating her staff and the union with a head-in-the-sand approach.

Anonymous said...

Questions being raised about the Lt. Governor and MN DOT Commissioner Carol Molnau's leadership and effectiveness (i.e. was the work of civil engineers taken seriously enough or was it downplayed because of political considerations or pressures not to increase taxes?) are fairly within the ambit of the discussion about the ability of the Attorney General's staff to do an effective job for the State of Minnesota, its citizens and taxpayers vs. internal pressures to serve the interests of the boss. Engineers at MNDot are protected. As news reports are finding, they can write reports delivering tough news. So far, we are not seeing that the advice has been edited by their superiors. Spun, yes...

There is a question as to whether staff at the Attorney General's office has the freedom to send out a letter without having their supervisor, the supervisor's supervisor (who is a one of less than a half dozen members of her executive committee) and possibly the Attorney General herself edit the letter, the subject of which may be within the expertise of the author. The climate within the agency that provides critical legal advice to Minnesota state agencies is under a filtering process and management climate that is contrary to the interests of Minnesota citizens.

Imagine: Governor Tim Pawlenty or Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau/Mn. Commissioner of Transportation taking the report of a civil engineer with expertise in the load capacity, stresses, deterioration, repair needs of bridges and highways and taking a red pen to the report, eliminating "problematic" language.
We don't have this system in state government - thank goodness - except for the Attorney General's Office.