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 moving minnesota through employee communication
 February 20, 2002
No. 49 
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This week's top stories
Leaders urge conference participants to focus energy on emerging priorities, emotional health
Weiszhaar announces Program Support Group reassignments
Governor restricts hiring, out-of-state trips for state employees
 Leaders urge conference participants to focus energy on emerging priorities, emotional health

Man on motorcycle in conference room

Dan Whaley, Maryland Avenue Truck Station, got the audience's attention when he roared down the main aisle on a new Harley as part of Ken Schmidt's keynote address at last week's Transportation Conference. Photo by Terri Betsch

Nearly a thousand Mn/DOT employees and others associated with the transportation industry met Feb. 12-13 at the annual Transportation Conference to celebrate successes and examine the challenges that lie ahead in a quickly changing environment.

Conference participants gathered for general sessions and in smaller workshop settings to gain more insight into the departmentís future.

Participants also heard Gov. Jesse Ventura praise the departmentís role as a transportation leader and urged legislative support for his program including $120 million in bonding for the Northstar commuter rail line.

The usually prompt Ventura apologized for being late for his appearance.

Governor at lectern, waving

"I was caught in traffic," Gov. Jesse Ventura deadpanned to an appreciative audience when he spoke Feb. 12 at the Transportation Conference. Photo by Terri Betsch

"I was caught in traffic," he deadpanned to appreciative laughter from the audience.

He turned quickly serious, however, urging Mn/DOT people to "go out and do what needs to be done" to improve the stateís transportation system.

Thatís what participants did, fanning out to exchange their own knowledge and expertise, visit displays, attend workshops and listen to conference speakers.

The conferenceís opening speaker, Ken Schmidt from Harley-Davidson, quickly gained attention when the characteristic "potato, potato, potato" rumble of a Harley V-twin engine echoed throughout the hall as Dan Whaley from the Maryland Avenue Truck Station drove a new Harley down the main aisle.

Following Schmidtís address on the rise and fall (and rise again) of Harley-Davidson, conference-goers attended workshops on topics such as effective leadership, critical issues facing freight movement in the state, the challenges involved in being a corridor manager and Mn/DOTís role in passenger rail development.

Man & woman in top hat

Ron Bisek and Kari Schamber, both from Training and Development, "classed up" their breakout session on "Leading in Style" by wearing top hats. Photo by Terri Betsch

For example, in the leadership session led by Ron Bisek, assistant manager, Training and Development, and Kari Schamber, a professional trainer, participants learned different leadership styles and ways to apply different styles to unique situations.

Presenters of the session on passenger rail explained the development of the Hiawatha light rail transit line and Mn/DOTís plans for the Northstar commuter service planned to create rail service between Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

On the conferenceís second day, workshops included sessions focused on bus transit in Greater Minnesota, the Advanced Travelers Information System, the design-build process and the Shaping Our Future plan that guides development of Mn/DOTís 20-year State Transportation Plan.

Woman making a face

"We tend to take ourselves too seriously," said keynote speaker Amanda Gore. "We need to let go, live out loud and enjoy ourselves." Staff photo

Amanda Gore, keynote speaker on the conferenceís second day, urged participants to stay in touch with their emotional selves and to pay attention to how emotions play a critical role in the work place.

Gore, an Australian with a salty and common sense approach to things, told conference participants they need to stay emotionally connected with themselves, their co-workers and their families to become truly effective in their jobs and to remain healthy.

"We tend to take ourselves too seriously," she said. "We need to let go, live out loud and enjoy ourselves."

In the Design-Build session, participants learned about three projects that use design-build principles to speed up program delivery. The design-build process overlaps design and construction, allowing construction to begin before all design details are finalized.

Two projects, Hwy 14 near Owatonna and Hwy 100 in Golden Valley, used the traditional low-bid process to award projects to contractors. The Hwy 100 project was slightly different in that Mn/DOT pre-qualified proposers to create a short-list that help to make sure that the most qualified team bid on the project. Another project, Hwy 52 in Rochester, will award the contract to the contractor who can provide the "best-value"óa process that will allow Mn/DOT to look at many factors in awarding the bid.

Man & woman

Deputy Commissioner Doug Weiszhaar and Traci Vibo, Transit, chat in front of the Office of Transit's exhibit. Photo by Craig Wilkins

Conference participants also had the opportunity to attend two Shaping Our Future sessions, which provided more information about where Mn/DOT is heading as it develops the 2003 Statewide Transportation Plan in an environment that requires the department to deliver projects faster and at lower costs.

As reported in last weekís Mn/DOT Newsline, nearly two dozen Mn/DOT employees received recognition for their contributions to transportation systems management, leadership and information. Click here to see the list of the 2002 Mn/DOT Pride Award winners.


 Weiszhaar announces Program Support Group reassignments

Several managers and staff within the Program Support Group will take on new assignments as part of Mn/DOTís Shaping Our Future effort, Deputy Commissioner Doug Weiszhaar announced Feb. 15.

Weiszhaar said these changes will result in three fewer management positions because of office consolidations and retirements.

These reassignments come on the heels of a Feb. 5 announcement that the offices of Contract Management and EE0/Contract Management will be consolidated and that the functions and services of Consultant Services will be distributed to the districts, Metro Division, the Office of Investment Management and the Office of Technical Support.

"We are delivering the largest program ever in Mn/DOTís historyónearly double our normal construction programóthanks to the 2000 Legislatureís one-time appropriation of $459 million for the Moving Minnesota projects," Weiszhaar said. "We need to ensure that our people and money are strategically aligned so that we can meet the June 30, 2003 deadline for delivering this program."

Effective March 4, the following reassignments will occur in Program Support:

  • Al Pint will become office director of Land Management. There are no plans to appoint a replacement for Pintís former management position in Corridor Management.

  • Karl Rasmussen will lead the right-of-way functions within the Office of Land Management.

  • Dick Elasky will be the new office director of Environmental Services, replacing Merritt Linzie, who will be retiring March 15.

  • Jeff Brunner will lead consultant service activities within Technical Support.

  • Janet Blacik will lead the Pre-Letting Section in Technical Support, assuming the position formerly held by Mark Krebsbach, who recently left Mn/DOT.

Members of the Streamlining team, listed below, will be redeployed as streamlining planning winds down and implementation moves to functions within Program Support and district offices.

  • Del Gerdes, who led the Streamlining team, will return to his prior position as office director of Technical Support. The streamlining effort was slated to end this spring, and many of the processes addressed in streamlining are located in Technical Support.

  • Cassandra Isackson will be returning to the Office of Technical Support.

  • Joe Pignato will be assigned to Land Management to assist in implementing the streamlining recommendations.

  • Paul Huston will be assigned to Design/Build support under Pat Hughes.

In addition to the changes occurring in the Program Support Group, several other offices are undergoing internal review to better align and, in some cases, consolidate business functions to fit the departmentís new distributed products and services model described in the Shaping Our Future plan. These offices include Materials & Road Research, Research, Administrative Services, Communications & Public Relations and Maintenance.

Dick Stehr, Program Support acting director, is leading these evaluation efforts. Recommendations are due to the Senior Management Team by April 1.

"In the end, these efforts might mean that some people will do different work," Weiszhaar noted. "It doesnít mean that their current work is not importantóonly that we need to focus on meeting the departmentís priorities of delivering the construction program to more effectively address customer needs."

For more information, visit the Shaping Our Future Web site at Click here to read past Mn/DOT Newsline articles about the Shaping Our Future effort.


 Governor restricts hiring, out-of-state trips for state employees

The governor recently announced a modified hiring freeze for state agencies, but Mn/DOTís already-active realignment process will minimize its impact here, according to Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg.

In his Feb. 15 e-mail message to Mn/DOT employees, Tinklenberg wrote: "We were ahead of the game (having) already implemented an internal review process for hiring employees under our Resource and Momentum Task Force guidelines."

Out-of-state travel is another area thatís been affected by the stateís much-talked-about revenue shortfall, and Mn/DOT has canceled all out-of-state trips as of Feb. 15. Exceptions can occur under special circumstances and upon approval by both Mn/DOT and the Department of Employee Relations.

For specific information about either of these topics, check out the Commissionerís Office page on Mn/DOTís intranet, iHUB.


Minnesota Government links: Northstar | Governor's Office
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