When the summer weather gets so nice that you just can’t stand to be indoors, and when the garden is coming in like gangbusters, it’s hard to sit down at the typewriter and do a blog post. I said typewriter because I’m going to do a summer rerun of something that I first wrote on a typewriter, I am sure, just so I can say there is something to read this week on the Prairie Blog. I wrote this in either 1989 or 1990, I’m not sure which, and judging from the copy of it that my friend Mylo Candee sent me in the mail this week, it appeared in print in the Mandan News. I had forgotten all about this, but I still kind of like it, now that I’ve read it again, so thanks to Mylo for digging through old files and thinking of me when you found this. The headline over this story was “State Reorganization That Calls It Straight” and it is preceded by an Editor’s Note that reads “The following North Dakota State Government reorganization plan was drafted by former Mandan News editor and present North Dakota Tourism Director Jim Fuglie.” Here we go.
STATE REORGANIZATION THAT CALLS IT STRAIGHT
The following plan, I think, contains the ability to provide equal or better service at less cost, and makes a little bit of sense.
Under this plan, the executive branch of government would be divided into nine departments. There is a place for every existing office and agency in nine departments.
All department heads except the Auditor and Attorney General (and of course the Governor and Lieutenant Governor) would be appointed by the Governor. With all those appointments, the word will get out on the street that if you win in North Dakota you win big! You control everything but the lawyers and the money counters.
Here are the nine departments and their titular heads:
1) DIRECTOR OF WEEKENDS. This director would be in charge of the Department of Weekends, which would assume the functions of the Game and Fish Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Historical Society, the State Library, the Horse Racing Commission, the Water Commission, the State Tourism Division, the Gaming Division, the Peace Garden, the State Fair, and, of course, the National Guard. All of these agencies own land, or provide in some other way for weekend or leisure time activities, and with a common purpose they could make this a greater place in which to spend leisure time or weekends.
2) DIRECTOR OF WEEKDAYS. This director leads the Department of Weekdays (also known as the Jobs and Loans Department). The Department assumes most functions of the Workers Compensation Bureau, Job Service, Economic Development Commission, Labor Department, Securities Commission, Intergovernmental Assistance Office, Indian Affairs Commission and the Bank of North Dakota. These agencies all deal with people’s working lives, versus their playing lives. They provide jobs or help people find jobs, or help people get jobs back, or help create jobs.
3) DIRECTOR OF RULES AND REGULATIONS. This person runs the Rules and Regulations Department, and the Department will combine most of the duties of our regulatory agencies, the Insurance Department, the Public Service Commission, the Agriculture Department, the Health Department, the Secretary of State, and the Livestock Sanitary Board. These agencies mostly regulate people, and we might as well put all regulators in the same place, so you can get a license for everything all in one place.
4) ERECTOR DIRECTOR. The Erector Director runs the Department of Erections, which would assume all of the functions of the Highway Department and the Director of Institutions. This person would build and own all the roads, bridges and government buildings in the entire state.
5) BEANS AND HAY DIRECTOR. A state, like an army, moves on beans and hay. So we‘ll combine the Tax Department, the Office of Management and Budget, the Treasurer’s Office, and the State Land Department into the Beans and Hay Department. We’ll put these folks to countin’ and keepin’ track, and with the State Land Department, with its millions of acres of state school land included, if they run short of beans the can borrow against the hayland. You can always borrow on land, you know.
6) DIRECTOR OF FUNNELING. This agency takes in elementary and secondary education, higher education and Human Services, where 85 per cent or so of our state tax dollars are funneled.
7) LEGAL DIRECTOR. We’ll leave the Attorney General pretty much alone, because everyone needs a good lawyer. But we‘ll put him in charge of the Highway Patrol, State Radio, the Penitentiary and the state court system. That way, if somebody does wrong, he can track ‘em, catch ‘em, try ‘em, convict ‘em and confine ‘em. That ought to take care of crime in the streets.
8) AUDITOR. We are not even going to change the name of this department (2013 update: We wouldn’t have to change the name of the Auditor, either). We obviously need auditors to keep track of all these other agencies and make sure they’re being honest and spending their money wisely, so we’ll give Bob Peterson (see?) a secretary and two CPA’s, and turn him loose on the other departments.
9) Finally, we’ve got to address a big problem, and that, of course, is what do we do with all these state elected officials whose jobs are being eliminated because of this reorganization? If we’re not careful, we’ll get a whole lot of opposition from them and we’ll never get this thing done. You see, most of these folks fancy themselves as “advocates for the people.” And indeed, most of them are! So we’ll create our last department, the DEPARTMENT OF ADVOCACY and really turn these people loose to advocate. Why, the list might include Sarah Vogel, Earl Pomeroy, Jim Kusler, Bob Hanson, Bruce Hagen, Leo Reinbold, Dale Sandstrom, Wayne Sanstead, Byron Knutson and Heidi Heitkamp. We’ll just let them work there and advocate as long as they want. They’ll get tired of it eventually and leave, and then this department will disappear. (2013 update: That list today would be Doug Goehring, Adam Hamm, Al Jaeger, Kelly Schmidt, Randy Christmann, Brian Kalk, Julie Fedorchak, Kirsten Baesler, and Corey Fong. My, how the political tides have shifted. Byron Knutson was Labor Commissioner back then, but that job has since switched to an appointed position, so whoever the Labor Commissioner is today, we’ll just dump him or her into the Department of Weekdays.)
Well, that’s it. We may have missed a few minor agencies here or there, but they’ll fit in somewhere, when—and if—we find them. Heck, we’ll let the Legislature find them. We’re giving them this plan—they have to contribute something to the process.