Tuesday, November 28, 2006

State Game and Fish and "Kingdoms Unto Themselves"


Another article on the State Game and Fish Commission has me arguing with myself and losing. The Commission is arguing that they do not have to abide by the pay scales set by the legislature like other agencies do. The reason? They have constitutional authorization to be semi-independent, kind of like the State Highway Commission.

Their position was prompted by a lawsuit from four Game and Fish Employees who said the Commission's pay policies were "irrational" because employees with the same rank and less time in service were paid more than they were.

I don't know that I agree that paying people strictly by rank and time in service is the only "rational" method of compensation. There could be other factors, like difficulty of assignment or some special skill, that would make disparate pay the logical choice. Unfortunatly, corruption and favoratism is another possible reason for the pay differences. In private business, a worker who is better than another at the same job might well be paid more. The mindset that this is an "irrational" way to pay people is buearucratic thinking at its finest/worst.

I keep arguing with myself over all these "kingdoms unto themselves" in our government. Forgive me while I muse in print.

The Highway Commission does its own thing with 900 million or more taxpayer dollars each year. The Game and Fish Commission has its own structure and seeks to escape legislative purview. University Presidents now routinely flout the expressed will of the legislature concerning financial aid for persons in this nation illegally. I find the principle of semi-unaccountable fiefdoms with a secured line of taxpayer funding disconcerting. I think it is a receipe for arrogance, corruption, and a loss of a service-oriented mindset.

I am all for seperation of powers as a principle, and local control as a principle too. I guess what worries me here is that this is not a true seperation of powers or local control issue. Each of these fiefdoms has full or near full power within their sphere of operations. They are not reliant on the legislative branch for their funding, and the executive branch can only indirectly influence them through board appointments. They each promulgate a lot of their own rules. They are their own legislative, executive and judicial branches all in one. It is not a seperation of powers, but a division of government in a way that makes each fiefdom less accountable to the people.

IN the same way, each of these institutions has a statewide reach. It is not a true local-control situation, it is just that instead of one set of bosses in Little Rock there are many sets, each with their own little kingdoms that are centrally controlled.

Have I got any answers on this one? Not really. Today I am just a blogger who is musing in print.

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