The chief information officer for the state of Minnesota is resigning her post, and the Dayton administration said Tuesday it would accept applications for the job.
Carolyn Parnell is the state's chief information officer and commissioner of MN.IT, the agency that manages the technology systems for over 70 agencies, boards and commissions within the executive branch of government. Under her watch, the state consolidated much of its technology infrastructure.
"This consolidation improved agencies' efficiencies and saved Minnesota taxpayers nearly $28 million," Dayton said in a news release.
Prior to joining Dayton's administration in 2011, Parnell had led technology offices at a number of Twin Cities-based organizations and businesses including MnSCU. Dayton's office said applicants interested in the job could submit a resume.
Voter turnout in Minnesota this year fell to 50.5 percent, the lowest in a general election in the state since 1986.
The five-member State Canvassing Board, chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, met Tuesday to officially certify the results of the Nov. 4 election.
The board certified that 1,992,566 people cast a ballot in the election. Weighed against Minnesota's estimated eligible voter count of 3,945,136 resulted in a turnout rate of 50.51 percent.
That's very low compared to presidential election years, when Minnesota's turnout rate typically hovers above 75 percent. Turnout in 2012 was 76.4 percent, and in 2008 it was 78.1 percent.
But the 2014 turnout even suffered against recent off-year elections, which is when Minnesota elects its governors. In 2010 the turnout was 55.8 percent, and in 2006 it was 60.4 percent.
Minnesota voting hit a low mark in 1986, when 48.2 percent of eligible voters turned out. That year, DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich was re-elected over Republican challenger Cal Ludeman.
This year saw the first use of so-called "no excuse" absentee balloting in Minnesota, and Ritchie's office said the number of absentee ballots cast rose 55 percent compared to 2010. However, the 2014 figure was still lower than the total number of absentee ballots cast in 2012.
As two white-feathered turkeys looked on from a small coop, Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he couldn't muster too much sympathy for the fact that within a few days they'd be the main course in someone's Thanksgiving feast.
Pointing out that Minnesota produces about 46 million birds a year -- more than any other state -- Dayton put the perspective of the two 20-pound, 16-pound hens in perspective: "Forty-five million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight other turkeys are headed on to the same fate," he said.
Pardoning a turkey is a presidential tradition going back years. But it's equally a tradition for a Minnesota governor to send them on to slaughter.
"The president can pardon turkeys but governors don't have that clout," Dayton joked at his annual turkey press conference, which traditionally promotes Minnesota's nation-leading turkey industry.
John Gorton, president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and a turkey farmer from Pelican Rapids, said 2014 was a good year for Minnesota growers. "The price of turkey is up and our input costs are down," Gorton said.
Dayton has kept a low profile since his recent re-election victory. He said Monday that he was taking some personal time for the Thanskgiving holiday, with plans to spend the long weekend in San Francisco where one of his sons now lives.
Over a lunch of pork and potatoes at the governor's residence in St. Paul on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Kurt Daudt -- soon to be the Republican speaker of the House -- discussed the upcoming legislative session, and also took a few minutes to talk about their dogs.
Dayton and Daudt, R-Crown, met privately for a little over an hour. Shortly after Republicans retook the House majority earlier this month, Daudt's GOP colleagues chose him to be the next speaker. He'll officially ascend to the post in January, when the new session starts.
"The governor said it was a congenial conversation, and a great opportunity to get to know the new speaker better," said Matt Swenson, Dayton's spokesman. Dayton and Daudt share a love of dogs, and both own two.
While the lunch chatter may have been friendly, the new Republican majority is likely to complicate the DFL governor's efforts to pursue an ambitious second-term agenda. The last time Dayton shared power with Republicans at the Capitol, in 2011-12, it led among other things to a 21-day state government shutdown amid disputes over taxes and spending cuts.
Swenson said the two men didn't talk with too much specificity about issues, although he said both transportation and education were among the discussion topics.
Democrats and Republicans have both argued that the state needs to put more money into upgrading the state's transportation infrastructure, but the two parties differ in how best to do that. While Democrats are more likely to look for new sources of revenue, Republicans will argue that should be accomplished by spending less in other areas of state government -- including money for transit projects prized by many Democrats.
Dayton has been meeting privately with the Legislature's top leaders in recent days. Prior to Thursday's meeting with Daudt, he met with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and with Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who in January will transition from speaker to minority leader.
Swenson said Dayton was also seeking to meet soon with Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, the leader of Senate Republicans.
Tony Sertich, a former state House majority leader who has been serving under Gov. Mark Dayton as commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, is leaving that post to take over as head of a Duluth foundation.
In January, Sertich will be taking over as president of the Northland Foundation, which raises money from public and private sources, and makes grants aimed at improving the economic and social climate in seven northeastern Minnesota counties.
"Tony Sertich has been an outstanding advocate for his community, for the Iron Range, and for all of Minnesota," Dayton said in a prepared statement. Sertich did not respond to a telephone message.
Elected to represent an Iron Range-area House district in 2000, Sertich in 2007 rose to the post of House majority leader. At 30, he was the youngest House majority leader in Minnesota history. He held the post for four years, but resigned his legislative seat in early 2011 to take over the IRRRB.
As commissioner of the IRRRB, Sertich oversaw a staff of 55 and a $40 million annual budget. The agency uses proceeds from taconite mining to re-invest in the economy of northeastern Minnesota.
Dayton was re-elected Tuesday to a second term. Sertich is the first of his Cabinet commissioners to announce he won't continue to serve in the second Dayton term.