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Friday, June 22, 2007

Sad Story Of Minnesota's
Department Of Health Gets Sadder

Earlier this week Minnesotans learned that the Minnesota Department Of Health - under the auspices and under the order of its Commissioner Dianne Mandernach - withheld critical information from studies about deadly cancers among Iron Range miners.

To recap, from WCCO News:

    Some health experts are criticizing a decision by the Minnesota Department of Health to withhold information about additional deadly cancers among Iron Range miners. But the state health commissioner is defending the delay.

    The Star Tribune reported on Sunday that the Health Department suppressed the research for a year, finally releasing it last March.

    The department discovered in March 2006 that a rare, asbesetos [sic]-related cancer had stricken 35 more miners. Seventeen cases had been previously known. All the miners have died.

    According to documents obtained by the Star Tribune, officials had planned last year to disclose the information. But state Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach rejected those plans last fall.

Boy - it's a good thing this wasn't a study on the so-called health effects of second-hand cigarette smoke that was unilaterally delayed.

Developments this week include State Senator John Marty and U.S. Steelworkers are calling for an investigation into Mandernach's decision. (Marty is a Democrat, and I couldn't agree more with him on this issue.)

    Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said the Senate Health Committee will take up the issue during a hearing next week.

    Bob Bratulich, director of District 11 of the United Steelworkers, said the Legislature and attorney general must determine whether there was a cover-up.

    "It is unconscionable, unethical, and probably criminal for a public agency to withhold information about a potential health risk to workers," he said.

Meanwhile - our idiot Governor, Republican Tim Pawlenty Hatch is standing by Mandernach, who he appointed in 2003 to the $108,400 dollar a year job:

    Gov. Tim Pawlenty backed up Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach on Wednesday, even as Iron Range lawmakers called for her resignation over the yearlong delay in the release of data on nearly three dozen cancer cases among miners.


    Iron Range legislators are incensed, and two of them - Rep. Tom Rukavina and Sen. David Tomassoni - held a news conference outside Pawlenty's office to call for her resignation. They were joined by Sen. John Marty, who heads a Senate health policy committee.


    Union leaders and Iron Range politicians said the public, including 4,000 current miners, should have been told sooner about the new findings. Iron Rangers have long worried about health problems related to the mining industry, and male residents of northeastern Minnesota have come down with mesothelioma at unusually high rates since the late 1980s.

    "If it had been known a year ago we could have got a jump start on this," said Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, one of nine lawmakers to push for Mandernach's resignation. "I mean, these are people's lives on the line, and to delay it for a year makes no sense. I don't understand."

    Mandernach issued a statement apologizing for the tardy release of the data.

Here is an excerpt from her apology, too little too late, in my opinion:

    "As the head of Minnesota’s lead public health agency, I want to apologize for delaying the release of information about the deaths of 35 miners from mesothelioma.

    With the benefit of hindsight, we should have provided this information earlier. It was clearly the right thing to do."

I wrote last November why I would not support or vote for the re-election of Pawlenty. I cannot stand him. Something strange happens to Minnesota Governors after their first term. It happened with Rudy Perpich, it happened with Arne Carlson and now its happening with Tim Pawlenty. I dunno...maybe it's the water in the Governor's Mansion.

These days Pawlenty is occupied attaching his nose to the anus of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. It's no secret that rumors abound that Timmy could be the VP on McCain's ticket. Maybe they can start a new party and call themselves the Straddler Party.

Dianne Mandernach needs to resign or be fired from her position as the State Health Commissioner, it's that simple. No one - no one - in the private sector could get away with what she did and keep their job - no one.

If you think like I do, that Mandernach should resign and/or be fired, here is who to contact:

Contact the MN Dept. of Health:
Phone: (651) 201-5000
888-345-0823 (toll-free for callers outside the metro area)

Contact the Governor's Office:
Telephone: (651) 296-3391
Toll Free: (800) 657-3717
Facsimile: (651) 296-2089
E-mail: tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us

The Idiot Pawlenty and Dianne "Let them eat cake" Mandernach


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What I don't understand about this story is why the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party was not on top of this situation long ago. Why would they have needed for Pawlenty to tell them about this problem?

James Oberstar has represented this area for thirty years and is well known for his excellent constituency outreach services and his assistant Peter Makowski is a former miner and union official.

How could it be that Mr. Bratulich the United Steel Workers Union official with his office right in the center of the Iron Range could have been unaware of all of this... what about the USW Health and Safety people... what kind of relationship do any of these people really have with the rank and file workers and the people living on the Range that they were not on top of this situation already.

We know what to expect from a viciously anti-labor Pawlenty administration; but these are people who are supposed to know what is going on in their communities... one would think they would know to keep alert to health issues of this magnitude.

It is kind of far fetched for me to believe none of these people are as ignorant of the situation as they claim to be.

Has not one of these families ever sought assistance from the union, their Congressman, or State Legislators... come on people, wake up; we relied on these people to be on top of all of this because we all know Pawlenty and his administration only have one concern... that concern is for the profits of the mining industry which has subsidized their campaign... but, union members also have paid dues.
Well Alan, you bring up many good questions that I don't have the answer for.

Do we know what Oberstar knew and when he knew it about asbestosis and cancer? I don't know what his official statement on this issue is. Personally, I disagree with your statement of his "excellent constituency outreach". I think he postures and panders to the Northern MN Democrats during the election years and then forgets about them.

I don't know that Bratulich wasn't aware of the dangers, but until studies on anything are conducted by a govt agency or independent lab, one can only guess to what ill health effects can be on any issue.

The point is, why Mandernach intentionally delayed the finding of the study and why she remains as the Commish of the Dept of Health.

I'm no big fan of Pawlenty. Not by any means. I doubt even if his admin is "viciously anti-union" (if you can prove that let me know) he or his admin would intentionally delay the findings of the study. If it can be proven he or someone in his admin did, they should be fired or, if it Pawlenty himself who had Mandernach delay the study, I will be first in line to call for his resignation.

I take it your a hardliner DFL'er from the links that have come up searching your name. The DFL is the ultimate Nanny State party, regulating everything we do. How did THEY miss nailing this issue, or did they know about it and ignore it until the delayed Dept of Health report surfaced?

There's a lot of investigating needed to be done on this case, and those guilty - Dem or Repub - need their asses kicked out of whatever office they hold, period.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.
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