Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson reports that he looks "pretty manly in a hard hat," and it's probably true — there was only one direction his look could go.
But Johnson isn't really promoting his manliness with his blog. He's promoting himself as a populist of the Pawlenty ilk. That is, you rail against wasteful spending on "frills" while you advocate cutting spending that benefits the very people you're appealing to.
Johnson's target this week is landscaping around the county's garbage burner. And I mean, dude, planting trees around a garbage burner — isn't that lipstick on a pig?
The county turns waste into energy for downtown Minneapolis buildings — something the commissioner agrees is a good idea. But to make it practical, the burner has to be near downtown. And the burner just got a lot closer to the center of attention with the new Twins stadium next door, with lots of new residences, and before long, with the convergence of several commuter rail lines.
If you stop and think about it, you might want the area to look presentable if it's visited by people from around the state and seen nationwide during baseball telecasts. Like it or not, it's going to represent the county.
It's not clear whether Johnson objects to the location of the new greenery, the cost or the specific allocation of dollars to beautification (you know beauty ain't manly). But it is clear that he wants to be seen as a regular guy who will kick around in the garbage but who hates waste.
Let's give Johnson a little credit. His blog is reasonably well-written, and I'm all for elected officials speaking directly and with some spunk to constituents.
But personally, I'd prefer a commissioner who thought constructively about what government ought to accomplish, suggested ways it could be more effective and solicited my ideas about how he could do his job on my behalf. If I were a commissioner or worked for the county, I'd like a leader who respected my work, supported my decisions and let me know directly when he didn't think my performance measured up.
None of that is in the GOP playbook, though. It's bomb-throwing time, baby.