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It All Smells Pretty Bad

Category: GOP 2014
Posted: 02/20/15 10:28, Edited: 02/20/15 10:31

by Dave Mindeman

Well, the legislature has effectively quashed the Commissioner pay raises. The dutiful "watchdogs" saved the taxpayers the tidy sum of $800,000 and pretty much locked those salaries in place forever.

Its an easy political target. Salaries for government officials make great optics when you can compare them to salaries for the average Minnesotan. Another symbolic victory for politicians.

But if that is the case, then why didn't the pay raises of some of the Republican legislative staff raise some eyebrows?

Ben Golnik who became the GOP Caucus executive director this year got an immediate raise for the position. He is paid $123, 971 - a nice bump of $16,171 from the previous salary for the job.

Golnik doesn't really serve the taxpayers (although his salary comes from them); he is strictly a political operative. His job is to develop strategy for the next political campaign. To advise on what the GOP does politically to keep their House majority and take the Senate in 2016.

Quite frankly, this job offer was a pay back for his work in developing the rural strategy in winning the House. He was a PAC coordinator with the MN Jobs Coalition. A position he had to leave to work at the legislature, but it is hard to imagine that his knowledge of the PAC and its contacts doesn't filter over into his new job.

No Democrat raised a question when Golnik got his raise. No Democrat even mentioned that the House Chief Clerk got a $32,508 raise for his job - which now pays $148,000.

Think the average Minnesotan is being served there? Think that taxpayers should be paying for political strategists?

The hypocrisy of this "flap" over Commissioner salaries leaves a pretty sour taste when it comes to facts and policy.

(It should be noted: Legislators in the last session passed a law giving the Governor the power to lift a roughly $119,500 pay cap on commissioner pay based on the recommendations of a bi-partisan committee, which included Republican Reps. Mary Liz Holberg and Mike Benson, and Republican Sen. Jeremy Miller.)

And the most disappointing figure in all of this is Majority Leader Bakk. Sure, he might have been protecting his caucus from the "optics" of it all. But where was his concern over optics when he ambushed the Senate Office building on the Democratic House and forced them to take that into an election year. The Governor and the House ended up supporting that, but Bakk wouldn't support the Governor on the pay raises.

The politics of this is deep in the manure - good public servants are forced to put their lives on hold to take these Commissioner jobs. Their private sector careers get interrupted. And, on top of all that, they have to listen to politicians accuse them of gouging the taxpayer.

It all smells pretty bad.
comments (1) permalink
02/20/15 20:54

Far too many management issues are decided by a political solution. I've been advocating the legislative and executive management team start running the place smart instead of politically expedient. The issue of pay is not rocket science. It is an exact science. And business has been dealing with this since the invention of money. Why not use widely accepted "best practice" and demonstrate a solid handle on how best to run our business affairs--including pay scale for executive staff.

Why is this political? What purpose does it serve? We need a state that runs its affairs smart instead of through hyperbole, faux outrage, and political gamesmanship. Since when did a majority rule determine best outcomes? These political appointments are a cast of musical chairs with major party appointees swapping turns at the helm. Perhaps if you started a similar advocacy, maybe the smart kids in the room would get some traction towards forward progress and reforms.

That bad smell you seek to avoid is the result of bad management practices. Rather than adding the fresh smell of fabreeze to the stench of fecal matter in the air, how about dealing with the real issue? How about a solid dose of "best practice" instead?



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