Nick Coleman, the perpetually outraged Star Tribune columnist, wrote a piece today on a recent management change at seven State Capitol cafeterias. Coleman is furious that Taher, Inc. - the local company that was recently awarded the contract for cafeteria operations - has decided to use non-union labor. (I know what you're thinking, nothing grabs the public's attention on a Friday afternoon like a labor dispute involving food services at state buildings.) Coleman, of course, makes this a classic good versus evil story with good being represented by - surprise - himself and the unions, and evil, of course, personifed by Governor Pawlenty. The unforgivable sin for which Coleman castigates the Governor: allowing the Department of Administration to initiate an open and transparent bidding process, thereby getting the best value for taxpayer money.
Coleman apparently cares little about the need to conduct competitive bidding processes with integrity and transparency. He dismisses the fact that the bids were reviewed and scrutinized by a 8-person panel and judged by a set of objective criteria. He doesn't care that some recently dismissed workers have already been re-hired. And he implies that Governor Pawlenty personally intervened in the process in order to punish union workers. But worst of all, Coleman does it all with his trademark combination of condescention and histrionics:
"[One former worker] who lives in a low-income apartment near the Capitol, had walked to her dishwashing job through rain and snow for 39 years. Gov. Rudy Perpich used to ask how her parents, who lived in Two Harbors, were doing. Gov. Jesse Ventura gave her an autographed picture. Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave her the boot."
Coleman could have added, "and now I'm using her as a punchline to score a few political points against a governor I despise."
Something tells me if I was a glutton for punishment, I could wade through some of Coleman's other columns and find him chastising the state and especially federal government for awarding contracts without allowing for a similar open and transparent bidding process. In those cases, Coleman would have accused a conservative admininstration of playing favorites and rigging the system. Now he's criticizing a conservative administration for not playing favorites and refusing to rig the system. But consistency isn't in Nick Coleman's vocabulary. The only things consistent about Nick Coleman are intolerably dull writing, intellectual dishonesty, and an irrational hatred for Governor Pawlenty.