Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LCCMR & Lessard-Sams heads should be protected from politics

The Star Tribune story headline on the LCCMR situation states "leaves questions and raw feelings."  But more than that, there are no solutions offered by policymakers nor others so that this position and another like it are not mired in the "politics of the Capitol."

The Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources Director and the Lessard-Sams Commission Director can be fired at will.  With the LCCMR that issue is a bone of contention.

The LCCMR suggests as to how millions of dollars collected from the lottery should be spent on environment and natural resource projects.  Lessard-Sams recommends hundreds of millions of dollars of Legacy money to outdoor heritage. Both groups send their reports to the Legislature for action.

Do not kid yourself there is politics involved with these recommendations and process.  Being an upfront observer of the process at the Capitol for many decades leaves no doubt for me. 

But is it in the public interest to have these director positions fly and be directed in the winds of politics at the Capitol?

Depending as to holds the gavel of power this can change, GOP could control both bodies one or two legislative terms, DEMS maybe one or two, maybe one legislative body led by one party, the other another.  So what happens to the directors, they could be pointed to do or pressured by the politics at the time to do things that may not be in the "public interest."

A suggested solution:

The Legislature has a number of Commissions or offices that do the work of the public.  An office that does a great amount of work for the public is the Legislative Auditors Office.  Now what is so interesting about the position of the Legislative Auditor it has set term and can only be fired for cause and with a public hearing.  This is what the statute says:


Subdivision 1.Appointment and term.

"The legislative auditor is the executive secretary of the commission. The legislative auditor shall be appointed by the commission for a six-year term and serve in the unclassified service. When in office, the legislative auditor may not at any time hold any other public office. The legislative auditor may not be removed from office before the expiration of the term of service except for cause after public hearing."

Let us not have political friction over who should be the head of the LCCMR and the Lessard-Sams whenever the State House changes power.  That is not in the public interest.

Let us the people of Minnesota demand a legislative solution such as the Legislative Auditor model.

1 comment:

  1. Fixed terms would be an improvement over the current situation. However, given the workload, I'm not sure that these situations justify full-time staffs. It's really an application processing job. Regular legislative staff (non-partisan, bi-partisan) could handle the work during the downtime between sessions. Permanent, full-time staff just creates little fiefdoms that must be protected at all costs.