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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rich Stanek's $30k Vanity Project

Great story in this morning's Star Tribune

Here's an excerpt:

Stanek, who gained national attention with his news conferences about the rescue and body recovery efforts, has found a new way to broadcast his role in the bridge collapse response: a 26-minute DVD, titled "Twenty Days in August," paid for with $30,000 in sheriff's forfeiture funds.

Stanek describes it as a "training" video, and has shown it to groups to illustrate how his office responded to the Aug. 1 tragedy.

One of those groups was the men's club at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, where Stanek made a presentation last month. "The guys who were there were just really enthralled," said associate pastor Eric Youngdahl.

But others have questions about whether politics are a factor in Stanek's attention to Aug. 1. Stanek, who was elected in 2006 and does not face re-election for three more years, last month had a political fundraiser in which Gov. Tim Pawlenty served as an honorary co-host.

"Why would Stanek need a fundraiser?" asked Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein. He was a guest speaker in September when Stanek helped host a dinner to thank law enforcement officials and rescuers who responded to the tragedy.

Stanek declined to be interviewed for this article.

Kathryn Janicek, his chief spokesperson, said Stanek had been "strongly encouraged" to produce the video by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is overseeing the formal investigation into the collapse.

Janicek added that the fundraiser was a private event, and "the sheriff's office does not comment on private events."

"I'm sort of struggling to find the purpose of the video," Hennepin County Commissioner Penny Steele said after watching it.

Of course, it could be worse.....

I'd rather see a recap of the Sheriff's response to the 35W bridge disaster than Sonia Pitt's. Hers would be more like a sleazy, government funded episode of 'Desparate Housewives'.


lloydletta said...

To her credit, Penny Steele spoke out about this video.