Editorial: Governor needs to walk the walk

Published 8:41 am Friday, March 6, 2009

We commended Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently for deciding Minnesota will accept upcoming funding from the federal stimulus package. Today, Pawlenty deserves some criticism for not walking his talk.

At a time when Pawlenty is criticizing the Legislature, counties, cities, K12 schools, colleges and the state judicial system for excessive spending and failing to change, we think it is time for the governor to look in the mirror.

The governor has criticized Minnesota cities for lobbying expenses, counties for salary raises, schools for not being fiscally efficient and colleges for tuition increases. He said they all must change more.

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Certainly, one would think the governor would also be looking in the mirror for his own spending reforms.

Yet (last week), the governor jumped in a state plane and flew around state — stopping in Rochester, Mankato, Duluth and St. Paul for press conferences. Why? To announce that 60 state transportation projects will start this year, due to funding available from the federal stimulus package and Minnesota’s 2008 transportation package.

We asked the governor’s office Friday what the plane cost for (last) Wednesday’s trip was. Though we asked three times, his office did not tell us what the cost was.

We then asked the governor’s office specifically what value Minnesota citizens gained from his PR trip around the state announcing the transportation projects. His office did not answer this question either.

In the age of video conferencing, we question the appropriateness of flying around the state to announce these transportation projects. This trip appears to be more of a PR trip to polish the governor’s image.

In reality, the governor’s own action compared to his spending criticism of others recently looks simply hypocritical.

— West Central Tribune of Willmar, Feb. 28