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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Elwyn Tinklenberg's Troubling Ties to Highway Engineering Firm SEH.

A few years ago, Senator Michele Bachmann was promoting "Personal Rapid Transit" (PRT) in the media and authored legislation that would benefit one PRT company, the Taxi 2000 Corporation.

Early in 2005, Taxi 2000 sued its founder and former CEO J. Edward Anderson in Hennepin District Court. Two other men were sued, including Charles Michael of Short, Elliot Hendrickson (SEH) a highway engineering firm. Charles Michael was later dropped from the case on May 13th. The lawsuit was later settled. I was able to look at the documents that revealed a close, yet stormy relationship between Taxi 2000 and SEH. The Taxi 2000 website removed SEH's logo from a webpage that listed suppliers.

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SEH still shares a lobbyist, Edwin Cain with Taxi 2000. Ed Cain lists only three clients; Short, Elliot, Hendrickson (SEH), the City of Stillwater, and Taxi 2000 Corporation. Another lobbyist, Chris White works for the City of Stillwater, and the Taxi 2000 Corporation. It's odd that Taxi 2000 even has lobbyists... Taxi 2000 has virtually no employees, no viable product and has posted nothing new on the company website's "News" page since October 29, 2004.

If Elwyn Tinklenberg becomes the DFL candidate in the 6th Congressional District, will he make Bachmann's PRT Boondoggle an issue in the campaign? My guess is he won't.

Donors to his campaign listed here includes four employees of SEH:


Craig Anderson, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc-500

Michael Kraemer, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. 500

Arthur Gary Lamppa, SEH Engineers/Engineers 500

In this Minneapolis Star Tribune article (January 21, 2003), SEH is cited as one of the consulting firms that were awarded lucrative consulting contracts by MnDOT. Tinklenberg is quoted in the article defending MnDOT.

MnDOT swerves to avoid law on consulting contracts

By Dan Browning and Pat Doyle

A review of tens of thousands of government e-mails, memos and other documents shows that MnDOT often has avoided competition when awarding consulting contracts, has doubled or even tripled payments without bids and has broken laws by putting consultants to work before deals were approved or even funded.

Even so, Elwyn Tinklenberg, who led MnDOT for nearly four years before resigning in October, has called the agency's procedures "reasonable and appropriate." During a radio appearance in August, he praised the agency's 5,300 employees, "who are working like crazy to do the best job they can with limited resources to protect the mobility of Minnesota."

One example involves Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) of St. Paul. In 1998, the department signed a three-year, $750,000 contract with SEH for road-design services. Two years into the contract, it tagged on an amendment for $750,000, citing the heavy workload. It was among eight SEH contracts with supplements exceeding 60 percent of their original value. Taken together, the original contracts were worth $3.6 million, and the supplements added $3.3 million.

Two years ago, a MnDOT project manager broke the law by telling Short Elliott Hendrickson to start design work on the project even though the $60,000 contract wasn't signed. The firm finished the job, but the city pulled out of the arrangement.

Bachmann could use this Strib article to bash Tinklenburg's lack of concern about these no-bid contracts. Those SEH donations aren't going to help him if she does.