Rukavina Strikes Back: colorful Range pol rebuts Strib

Tom Rukavina (Wikimedia)

Tom Rukavina (Wikimedia)

Today, the Star Tribune features an op/ed from former Iron Range State Rep. and current St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina rebutting recent stories about the political nature of a IRRRB call center project.

I wrote about those Star Tribune stories here, and again here — both times pointing out how damaging this year has been for the image of the Iron Range and how the project under fire isn’t as egregious as another project which cost much more and was even more blatantly tied to the personal influence of lobbyists. (Predictably bad decisions and poor public relations causes others in the state to question the existence of the IRRRB, so people who want reform suddenly have to switch gears to defend keeping mining revenue in the communities at all. We never get ahead that way).

For his part, Rukavina has penned a letter in his classic style, well worth a read on its own. Here’s the hammer:

So keep beating on us, we’re used to it. Shucks, you guys are so smart. You figured out there’s politics in politics. There’s even politics in the media. Meanwhile, while you’re beating us up, we’ll just keep doing what we do best. We’ll mine your ore, the university’s ore, the Rockefellers’ and Pillsburys’ ore. We’ll just keep filling everyone’s coffers and if you leave us alone, we can do it for another 132 years (talk about sustainability!).

And when we keep just a little of that wealth for ourselves, just be nice and be grateful that we continue to share Minnesota’s mineral wealth with a state and nation that requires our ores to have a healthy, happy and educated society.

I know my readers hold a wide spectrum of opinions about Tommy, but there is an art to his work that I do appreciate and that our current legislators have failed to match.


  1. Nobody loves us. Everybody hates us. Guess I’ll go out and eat worms.

    And of course, the Range mostly does not “own” the ore, the citizens of the entire state do.

  2. Hi Steve – Good summary. 🙂 Actually, Rukavina has a way of using Iron Range language to unite people in the region. Having a monolithic external enemy is a central part of our cultural identity, for better or, increasingly, worse. The state has an interest in the ore, true, and a much broader interest in the environmental impact. But even a reformer like me must point out that no one pays the piper for mining quite like the people who live here, breath the air and suffer the economic pitfalls of resource extraction. The whole point of the IRRRB, taconite production taxes, etc., is that the region has a right, not a privilege, to keep the non-renewable revenue of mining in our communities to spur community development and economic diversification.

    Now, community development and diversification aren’t happening. THAT is the problem. But that’s separate from the fact.

  3. If the IRRRB did a better job with our taconite tax money a lot of the bad press would be gone. The fact that the IRRRB board gave our money to a DFL fund raising call center and very few up here raise an eyebrow is sad and adds fuel to the corrupt wasteful image of the board. Tommy you reap what you sow, so stop with the woe is me talk.

  4. Dan Nistler says

    The “monolithic external enemy” wording is spot on.

  5. Just watched Barney Frank on O’Reilly Factor. Tommy reminds me a lot of Barney. Both retired, both still put out a lot of words per minute.

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