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Paul Aasen

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Minneapolis taps MPCA head to be city coordinator

  • Article by: MAYA RAO and JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • May 1, 2012 - 7:53 PM

The state's chief pollution regulator has left the job after he was nominated Tuesday for a key position in Minneapolis city government.

Paul Aasen, who was Gov. Mark Dayton's commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was nominated by Mayor R.T. Rybak to become city coordinator.

Aasen was one of two Dayton-appointed commissioners on a Republican "watch list," suggesting their confirmation was in question in the Legislature.

Aasen would take the place of Steven Bosacker, who left earlier this year. The city coordinator is one of the most important jobs in Minneapolis government, overseeing the heads of finance, regulatory services, communications and other departments and acting as an adviser to the mayor and City Council.

Aasen, who makes about $110,000 in his state job, is likely to receive a raise if approved for the new role. Bosacker's salary was $150,774. "He brings a wide range of experience across many fields to a job that requires it," said Rybak in a statement.

Aasen will start later this month, if confirmed by the City Council.

Aasen has served as commissioner of the MPCA since 2011, and before that worked as advocacy director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. He held a series of other government jobs, including as director of government relations and policy under Gov. Jesse Ventura from 2003 to 2003.

His range of experience -- working on environmental issues, public safety and emergency response at the state level -- under Republican, Democratic and independent administrations make him a good fit, said Council Member Robert Lilligren, who chairs the committee that oversees the city coordinator.

On Tuesday, Aasen said he decided to take the job with the city because it provided the opportunity to "look at the world from a different chair."

Environmental advocates and legislators said he has been a fair commissioner who saw eye to eye with Dayton on environmental issues.

Aasen said the controversy over environmental legislation at the Capitol did not influence his decision to leave state government. The GOP-led Legislature has passed bills criticized by environmental groups as rolling back water protection and adding burdens to the PCA's ability to regulate businesses.

Aasen said lawmakers changed most of the problem language in the original bills that had concerned him and other state agency heads. There are aspects of the bills that he still objects to, he said, but for the most part the bills that are waiting for Dayton's signature do "not have any pieces that would cause us to automatically ask for a veto."

Maya Rao • 612-673-4210

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