Thursday, June 23, 2011

Essential and Critical Services: State Shutdown by Guido

by Steve Downing

Over the next little while, you’re going to hear more about Essential Services and Critical Services than you want to hear in two lifetimes. The adjectives in those constructions will get a workout, count on it. One person’s essential is another’s superfluous; one person’s critical, another’s trivial.
We know now what the priorities are, as calculated by a Minnesota state agency called, without irony, the Statewide Contingency Response Team. The Team has determined, for example, that insurance fraud prevention must go on. That the Dentistry Board must continue monitoring treatment of healthcare professionals. That the Governor’s Public Information Office will stay open, and his house will get the day-to-day attention it deserves. That there will be no interruption in the issuance of birth and death certificates or methadone authorizations. That Iron Range Resources (aka I.R.R.R.B) won’t have to completely halt maintenance at Giants Ridge, and the State Supreme Court will not retire to chambers. Zoo animals will get fed. The State Patrol will still be out there, fair warning.
Counterintuitively, between you and me, the Barber Examiners Board, the Chiropractors Board, the Combative Sports Commission, and the Private Detective Board, among others, will indeed shut down.
As it happens, Dodger and I are starting a roadtrip on July 1. I see that highway rest areas aren’t deemed essential; this changes everything. Also: I should probably bring the chainsaw; dead tree in the middle of the road is going to stay dead tree in the middle of the road. Any restaurant we might stop at will still be serving inspected food; this won’t turn spotty till July 2. You’re all thinking of other concerns as well, aren’t you.
But, amidst the tumult and dissembling, you might take some comfort in the fact that the Statewide Contingency Response Team is recommending that 13,211.5 full-time state employees remain on the job. That is, you might find it comforting, unless you’re privy (I’m not) to the gross number of pending pink slips. FYI: the only .5 position in the Response Team’s essential/critical FTE consideration is on the Dentistry Board. Relief. Aren’t we all better off if not a single half-person is monitoring the dentistry done in this state during these teeth-grinding times?

Tune in this Saturday to KAXE's call-in show, Between You and Me for a conversation about the MN State Shutdown... or send us your comments!

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