We won’t have Dianne Mandernach to kick around anymore

Our Minnesota Health Commissioner, a Republican appointee who was supported by our Republican governor through a number of startlingly clueless incidents, has finally resigned. Here’s a short summary of her career:

This summer, Mandernach was criticized over her suppression of a state study about 35 cancer deaths related to taconite mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

In 2004, her credibility suffered when a website posting by the department suggested that abortion might have a role in breast cancer. Critics denounced those claims as junk science, and the wording was removed from the website.

So she hid real cancer risks and promoted fake cancer risks. She got it wrong coming and going! How could that be? Could it be…ignorance and arrogance?

Marty said his misgivings began about a year after her appointment, when Mandernach was forced to remove the wording on the website that claimed a link between abortion and breast cancer.

“She told me it was her judgment to override all of the scientific information at the time,” Marty said.

What were the qualifications of this paragon to override scientific evidence? She was “a former nun and teacher, was chief executive of the Mercy Hospital & Health Care Center in Moose Lake”. Doesn’t that fill you with confidence?


  1. tony says

    There’s nothing wrong with being a Chief Executive, per se! so long as you recognize that your skill lies in making decisions based on facts and not on personal opinion.

    Good CEO’s make decisions based on facts presented by their subordinates. They are good at ignoring ‘fluff’ and at recognizing BS. They may suggest courses of action based on their personal reading, reasearch, conversations… but they generally don’t act on their own ‘hunch’.

    Entrepreneurs often act on hunch. This is not BAD, simply different.

    The problem is that there are a lot of people who call themselves executives who are in fact entrepreneurs.

    Putting someone who makes decisions on hunch or opinion in charge of an agency that should make its decisions based purely on facts is stupid and irresponsible. Putting an entrepreneur in charge of an organisation that needs ‘spin’ to grow is smart.

    I just wish folks making such choices (politicians, boards) would refrain from confusing the two.

  2. justpaul says

    If she’s a former nun, that means she DIVORCED JESUS, since nuns ‘marry Jesus’ when they take their final vows…
    Some values…

  3. tony says

    One other point. Her record seems to suggest she is neither a good executive, nor an entrepreneur. So why would she have been selected?

    I’m more critical in selecting junior project staff than governments appear to be in choosing agency heads.

  4. NoAstronomer says

    Actually it *does* fill me with confidence … I’m confident I made the right decision to not live in Minnesota.

  5. rayzilla says

    Jesus told her which evidence was good or bad. I do the same thing on all my papers. I have a bumper sticker for my Sciencemobile that says “Jesus is my Co-author.”

  6. Jsn says

    Please, oh please tell me she’s not coming to Texas. Gov. Rick Perry will hire her in a N.Y. minute.

  7. says

    Sorry, I just have to snicker about “taconite mining”. Is that where Taco Bell gets its “meat”?

    Yes, yes, I know, it’s a flint-like iron ore of Precambrian sedimentary origin whose dust and fibers are implicated in asbestosis and mesothelioma. . . . But hell, those tacos can cause some medical problems of their own.

  8. says

    Watch her move to another state now, become commissioner there and start sending out cease-and-desist letters to *ahem!* certain bloggers. “I never said nuttin’ bout no cancer!”

    BTW, wasn’t Katherine Harris’s “They all snapped my bra!” boo-hoo-ography due out about now?

  9. phat says

    I’m not sure how we’ve been able to avoid this kind of thing in Nebraska. I really don’t.


  10. says

    Which of Shakespeare’s play was the lead female insulted with “Get thee to a nunnery”?

    Either way, a great catchphrase for this “nice” lady would be “Get thee back to thy nunnery!”

  11. isles says

    I hear she got the job based on the lofty qualification of being an anti-choice woman. Which raises the question of what Gov. Pawlenty thought the Health Commissioner was going to be able to do about the abortion rate. Seems to me she was put in place just to badmouth the procedure. Mandernach is an incompetent ninny, but Pawlenty is the Teflon villain.

  12. OptimusShr says

    “Which of Shakespeare’s play was the lead female insulted with “Get thee to a nunnery”?”

    Hamlet, act 3 scene 1.

  13. sailor says

    The choosing of really bad appointees on idological grounds seems to be a hallmark of Republicans in power.

  14. isles says

    Sadly, yes, where there is a political element, at least in the last few years (during which Republicans have controlled most high offices). Not so much censoring by way of preventing scientific findings from being published, but misrepresentation of science by public officials for political gain.

    I would like to think that Democrats would be less likely to engage in misrepresentation, but I’ve witnessed some pretty bad use of science by them as well. I do think when Democrats do it, it’s more often due to a lack of understanding than a calculated decision to disregard the facts.