What a difference a year makes. About 13 months ago, Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee and I proposed (picking up on former State Rep. Bob Valihura’s idea) that DNREC be split into two divisions so that the various regulatory and operating entities, which are often at loggerheads with one another, can truly focus on their unique missions. Now, according to the News Journal (The article can be found here), DNREC Secretary, Colin O’Mara, has agreed that DNREC needs to be divided.
To think that it was only 13 months ago that candidate Markell, himself, stated that this idea was “like rearranging the deck chairs on a ship,” and the Candidate Denn thought the idea lacked “serious[ness].”
Bill & I thought that it was bold, and while the lack of boldness of action of the Markell Administration has been widely discussed across the State (his efforts to date include a proposed 8% salary cut across the board and introducing more gambling), eventually all good ideas seem to be considered, and I’m honored that Bill and I have been able to help in a bi-partisan fashion. While we lost the election, the ideas we brought to the debate can now help Delaware, which is the point of an election, anyway.
As for bi-partisanship, too bad that the Governor’s administration has not been operating in a bi-partisan manner (the details of which I will share in some later posts, but you can also check two previous posts I’ve made on the secret meeting with General Assembly Democrats and a Democrat-only community meeting in Newark). So, despite its partisanship, I will endeavor to help Secretary O’Mara in one other point. He is quoted in the News Journal article that “We are trying to avoid layoffs at all costs.” In that case, let me guide you to Senator Colin Bonini’s plan to reduce the size of government without layoffs by offering an Early Retirement Option (You can check out Colin’s website here).
One other point, there is a blatant inaccuracy in the article, and I must admit that I’m getting very tired of seeing the same error published over and over again. The article states DNREC “is operating with about … 9 percent fewer employees currently than it did last year.” However, according to the Department of Labor’s own employment report dated November 20, 2009, Delaware’s government has had NO REDUCTION IN STATE EMPLOYMENT OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS!!! So, if Secretary O’Mara has 9% fewer employees, I’d like to know which agency has hired new people???
PS: The following is the text of the News Journal editorial from October 12, 2008. Looks like the Editorial page is a bunch of “radicals”, too:
Splitting state agency could go far in ending bureaucratic gridlock
It’s seldom our habit to endorse candidates’ ideas in the heat of a campaign, no matter the political party.
But the idea raised last week by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee and lieutenant governor candidate Charlie Copeland is not a new one and gives us another opportunity to repeat support for it.
The state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is a behemoth of a state bureaucracy with myriad responsibilities ranging from issuing fishing licenses to fining industrial polluters like the refinery near Delaware City.
It’s the range of duties and missions that makes the idea of breaking up the agency attractive, as we said when Rep. Robert Valihura [R-Brandywine Hundred] proposed the idea some time back.
It’s not our intention to create another new state cabinet from whole cloth, but rather divide the duties among those related to controlling what does or doesn’t go into the environment and managing the many natural resources we here in Delaware are proud of.
There should be no reason to add additional personnel to either department, although a new cabinet secretary, a couple support staff members and new quarters would be required.
The Democratic candidates, Jack Markell and Matt Denn, said said splitting DNREC would be like rearranging the deck chairs on a ship.
Mr. Denn said what’s needed is a more serious approach to law enforcement.”
He is correct about that, which is why it only makes sense to differentiate between the regulatory and enforcement arms of DNREC and and management of natural resources.