Tag Archives: MIke Schirling

The Land of Generic Expertise

The appointment of Don Rendall as interim chair of the state Natural Resources Board reminded me of something I’ve been pondering for quite some time: Our state government relies heavily on generic expertise. People are often hired to state positions outside of their professional experience. People within the executive branch are frequently swapped around as if they are interchangeable pieces. And people from the same small pool get hired over and over again to different positions. Rarely is someone with specific outside expertise hired for a relevant public sector post. Rendall has been a gas and utility executive, but he has no particular experience in environmental or land-use matters.

This is a long-running theme in state government, but it seems more prevalent in the Scott administration. Every time a top-level vacancy opens up, it’s filled laterally from elsewhere in the executive branch (Mike Schirling, from Commerce to Public Safety) or vertically from within an agency’s ranks (Lindsay Kurrle replacing Schirling, Wanda Minoli replacing Robert Ide) — or the hire goes to someone like Rendall, who brings no specific expertise to the job.

These kinds of hires do have advantages. If you’ve got experience in one part of state government, you have a base of knowledge that’s useful elsewhere. (Susanne Young has been an effective administrator in multiple roles under Jim Douglas and Phil Scott.) If you’ve been successful outside state government, you have skills that can be brought to bear in the public sector. Neale Lunderville has had success in both spheres, and has been called upon more than once for crisis management.

But there are also drawbacks. Hiring from within an agency, or swapping people around within state government, can foster stagnation, satisfaction with the status quo, a lack of vision for positive change. Two examples: The DMV under Ide and Minoli, which has had repeated issues with undocumented immigrants (and has been slow to adapt modern technology); and the Department of Corrections, whose upper ranks are full of DOC lifers — and where interim commissioner James Baker has been struggling to “change the culture.”

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YOU Get a Veepie! And YOU Get a Veepie! And YOU Get a Veepie!

Once again, the ocean trawler of political commentary has dredged up a boatload of dead things, old boots and trash… and now we get to display it proudly at our unofficial stall just outside the fish market.

First of all, the What On Earth Did You Think This Would Actually Accomplish? Award goes to everybody associated with the candidacy of Christopher-Aaron Felker for Burlington City Council, from Felker himself to the entire Burlington Republican Committee to our old bicoastal buddy Bradford Broyles, who took a break from developing D-List TV and movie ideas to sign on as Felker’s campaign manager.

Setting aside Felker’s horrifically offensive stance on transgender folk (i.e. that they don’t exist), let’s focus on the practicality of this enterprise. Felker, who looks for all the world like a character from an Ayn Rand novel, is a libertarian-type conservative with views that would make Steve Bannon blush — and he’s running for council in Ward 3, which has been a Progressive stronghold for four decades. How on Earth does he think this is going to end?

Maybe he’s doing it because it’s a great way to be a real-life concern troll. Maybe the party was so happy that someone — anyone — stepped forward that they didn’t do their due diligence. (Or maybe they share Felker’s views.) As for Broyles, I have no idea why he’s bothering with this. I’m sure he’ll inform me and his 324 followers via Twitter. Anyway, congrats, Brad. I’m sure you’ll find a prominent place to display your Veepie amongst all your Oscars and Emmys.

After the jump: Media misdeeds and covering the blue ass.

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