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Chuck Moss

Chuck Moss

Part Time Executive

September 8, 2017

It’s Part-Time Legislature Time again! This comes around regularly—usually every two or four years. Turning the Legislature into a ceremonial body that ritually convenes briefly and infrequently to stamp approval on bills and budgets? Who benefits?  The Executive, not necessarily the term-limited Governor, but the bureaucrats. They’re the ones who stay for years, outlasting the elected people’s servants, administering, regulating, and de facto legislating, all mostly out of the public eye.

So here’s my proposal: You want to shrink government? Why trash the branch that’s the closest to the people and the easiest to change? Instead, let’s have a Part Time Executive! You want to shrink government? That’s where the real costs are. Part Time Executive is the idea whose time has come.

Let’s start with the Governor. What do we need a full-time Governor for? Heck, just have a guy who comes up to Lansing, spends 90 days cutting ribbons and kissing babies, and who’ll sign/veto whatever the legislature works out. Then he or she can go home to their real jobs. No need for an official car—just pay ‘em mileage.

We’ve got some houses, too—fine pieces of real estate. First off: the Governor’s Residence in Lansing. I’ve been there, and let me tell you, it would make a first rate premium cigar bar. I’m not saying sell: lease it and give every Michigan taxpayer the right to a Business Class membership at a decent discount. As for the Governor’s place on Mackinac Island, that’s easy. Great lake views, sunset porch, fine location overlooking the golf course, easy access to the Grand Hotel, and minutes away from the beautiful historic downtown.  Just a few tweaks and you’ve got yourself a top of the line B&B. Yearly income to the State makes it a net profit center, not a cost.

“We need a Governor,” you say, and I say “what for?” Going around the world and recruiting companies? Lots of places have guys who do this; they’re called ‘Business Development Officers.”  We’ll just hire one, call him “Deputy Economic Governor” and send him to China or Germany.  Don’t pay the guy more, but if he brings in lots of jobs, there will be a free year’s membership in the cigar club.

Media. That’s important. We already have official spokespeople for the Executive office. We can save money by firing all of them but one. That person will then be charged with answering the phones and responding to all media inquiries with the words: ‘No Comment.’ If the journalist persists, add “on the advice of my lawyers.” Once a year the Part Time Governor can drive to Lansing and give a State of the State address, saying whatever he or she feels like. After that, go home and let everybody else go on TV and try to figure out what the heck it all meant. Like we do now.

Lieutenant Governor?  Right. Next subject.

The State Bureaucracy.  Ahh, now we come to it. A Part Time Governor needs a Part Time Bureaucracy. Let’s put every single state employee—except the State Police, and anyone dealing with public safety, on to part time hours. Think of the money we’ll save! Maybe some things will slip through the cracks, but at least we won’t paying Cadillac rates for folks who’re so busy regulating they don’t see a major city pumping bad water. The Budget Department? Don’t worry, they can moonlight anywhere to teach at any level—if they can explain finance to State Legislators, they can teach anybody anything. 

So who will carry on the business of government? A group of people hired locally to go to the capital as the citizens’ employees to take care of business. These folks can be hired or fired at will, and have to re-up their contracts every 2 or 4 years—by open, competitive process.  They have to account for every penny they receive and publicly explain every action they take.  We’ll call these folks “Representatives” and “Senators” and they’ll work in something called a “Legislature.”

So let’s have a Part Time Executive. Meantime the people’s representatives can go about the business of passing laws, debating policies, and overseeing the bureaucrats. A Part-Time Executive!!

Why didn’t we think of this before?

Chuck Moss teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.

September 7, 2017 · Filed under Chuck Moss

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richard // Sep 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Hmmm

  • 2 Anagnorisis // Sep 8, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Well taken. And not unfeasible. Actually lore tells of a time when all political offices were part-time, especially back when transportation and communications were sparse or nil. Extend this to the triad in Washington DC and we may have something here. State Police ought not escape that trimming either, the way they’ve been acting lately. A part-time law enforcement is basically what this country had for its first hundred years, someone on call to roust the rest when needed to quell some disturbance, otherwise all quiet, let neighborhoods keep their own peace. This has worked before we had overkill of public servants. Chiefs of police, sheriffs, governors, mayors, presidents, judges et al could be hired on part-time basis, go home to their real jobs, as Chuck says, when nothing’s happening. Make it so.

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