Editorial commentary on the anxiously awaited final report and recommendations of the state's Commission on Privatization and Delivery of Government Services has generally been unfavorable. Unfortunately, these comments may fall into that category. Not only do I favor the concept and general thesis of privatization, but also I was a member of one of the most maligned of the subcommittees, the one that studied the Department of Environmental Conservation. The unfortunate part is that the commission was doomed to fail before the first committee ever convened. And that is too bad. We have missed a seldom granted opportunity to have a positive outcome--an outcome that can eventually happen, but that will take a much longer time to gain public, even legislative approval in view of commission shortcomings.
In the first instance, the committees were given an enormous task to accomplish without satisfactory staff assistance. Members were volunteers, who set their own pace, goals and deadlines. For many, the first several meetings were taken up with trying to decide what to do. Legislative staffers of commission co-chairs tried their best to give support, but were strapped for time and resources. From the outset, it couldn't possibly have worked to the high degree of competence required to attract public and legislative support.
That the report has valuable content, as commission co-chair Representative John J. Cowdery insists, is fair and accurate. But again, unfortunately, the report is tainted by the reasonable assertions of critics who say it is rife with conflicts of interest. Committee appointments from the public sector may have been well-intentioned and impartial, but quite the reverse seems obvious to most any observer.
No Overriding Legal Authority?
Rep. Cowdery insists that quote, Conflicts of interest do not apply to volunteers, unquote. And further. "... there is no conflict of interest when a person doesn't have...