Semi-random thoughts upon the hiring of former Douglas Administration stalwart Neale Lunderville, who served as Governor Shumlin’s Irene Recovery Czar, as the interim GM of the Burlington Electric Department…
— When did Lunderville become Mr. Fix-It for Democratic administrations? Is there not a single Democrat with administrative chops who could be called upon to fill a leadership void in the public sector?
— Between his two government gigs, Lunderville was co-founder of NG Advantage, a firm that deals in compressed natural gas. He was there for less than two years. When and why did he leave?
— Since the Douglas Administration came to its merciful end, Lunderville has held (if I’m counting correctly) at least four jobs. Coincidence, or is there a reason he keeps moving around? (Yes, I know the Irene gig was a short-termer from the gitgo. But even so, there seems to be a pattern here.)
— Lunderville was one of the more notable head-crackers in the Douglas Administration. How committed is he to the ideals of a publicly-owned utility? Especially one with a strong commitment to renewable energy?
— The above question is even more crucial when, according to the Burlington Free Press, “Lunderville will conduct a strategic review of BED operations.” Will his ideological bent inform his strategic review, and shape his conclusions? Hard to see how it wouldn’t.
— He is said to be BED’s interim head, with a six-to-nine-month appointment. At the same time, though, Mayor Weinberger “temporarily suspended” the search for a permanent GM. Seems an odd decision; it often takes more than nine months to fill a top administrative position. Why wait? It seems likely that either Lunderville will stay longer than expected, or BED will soon be searching for another interim GM. Are the skids being greased for Lunderville’s permanent appointment?
Just askin’. Maybe some enterprising member of our paid political media could seek answers to some of these fairly obvious questions.
One further observation. The thing I don’t like about Shumlin and Weinberger hiring a Republican for a tough management task is the same reason I don’t like it when a Democratic President hires a Republican for Defense Secretary, or a military man for a non-military administrative post. It feeds into the stereotype that liberals can’t be effective, tough-minded leaders, and can’t be trusted with critical security and military issues.
Which is nonsense on both sides: there’s no guarantee a Republican will be a good manager, there’s no guarantee a general without the protections of rank and uniform will be an effective leader, and there’s no reason to think a Democrat, or even a Progressive, couldn’t handle a critical managerial challenge or keep our country safe. When Democratic officeholders hire somone like Lunderville, leaving aside the question of his qualifications, it feeds into those stereotypes. And that, in itself, is not a good thing.