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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Through the Looking Glass with Julianne Ortman

I have more questions for the Hennepin County Commissioners:

I've been following the media reports about the hiring of Sen. Julianne Ortman for $91k in the sheriff's department, and I don’t know whether to laugh or have a tantrum. Her on-camera interviews with Channel 9's Tom Lyden were worthy of Jon Stewart and 'The Daily Show'.

I have several questions for the elected leadership of Hennepin County.

1. Have job descriptions for comparable finance leadership roles in other departments been updated to allow for law degrees in lieu of accounting/finance
degrees? Or was this a one-time exception in the sheriff's department? How about a history degree? Biology? Theatre? Latin? Would any of these bachelor degrees qualify someone for a $91k financial leadership role at Hennepin County?

2. What is the purpose of a timecard for a salaried employee? Who reads or reviews
them? I tried to follow the sequence of events as reported in Saturday's Star Tribune story, and I came to two conclusions. 1. Lies have no consequences. 2. The timecard itself has no consequence, since it was reported that a questionable timecard was revised and resubmitted to the newspaper reporter after questions were raised. Did the revised timecard matter at all to Hennepin County? Sen. Ortman claimed that she didn't know she had to complete timecards as a new employee, and some other employee was doing it for her (without telling her????). Why wouldn't timecard reporting requirements be part of new employee
orientation?

3. Who initiated the request to change the qualifications for the job in the sheriff's department? In the Star Tribune, the sheriff denied any involvement in the hiring, but during an on-camera interview on Channel 9, Sen. Ortman said that the sheriff insisted she apply for the job.

4. Does anybody care about the appearance of a very serious, unsettling conflict of interest? Sen. Ortman is in the minority caucus of the Senate, but she has it in her power to introduce bills, participate in her assigned committees, and take votes on public safety appropriations, LGA, and public policy issues affecting law enforcement. Does that dual role bother anybody?

No reasonable, objective person can look at these circumstances and not have words like 'patronage' and 'conflict of interest' pop into their mind.

Please join me in asking Senator Ortman to resign, and investigate the policy decisions surrounding this mess, particularly with the sheriff, human resources and
payroll.


This story is looking worse all the time.

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