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 Response Page - Maluchnik / Pownell  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Randy Maluchnik / Rhonda Pownell Interview of


Randy Maluchnik, Carver County Commissioner, and Rhonda Pownell of the Northfield Council describe the challenges and opportunities facing cities and counties as they seek to innovate in the administration of public services. They describe successful uses of the Joint Powers Act, which enables units of government to work together and argue that to innovate within given resources administrators and workers on the front lines should be given both room and incentive to try new ideas.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Maluchnik and Pownell. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation. (8.5 average response) Cities and counties could do better in innovation if the Legislature and state agencies weren't micromanaging delivery of services.

2. Empower service providers. (8.5 average response) The best way to get innovation in state and local services is to empower those within service delivery systems to be creative.

3. Use incentives, not rules. (8.3 average response) Incentives do a better job of stimulating innovation than do orders or regulations.

4. Oversight comes with state aid. (6.6 average response) So long as cities and counties receive substantial aid from state government it's inevitable that they'll receive close oversight from the state.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation.







2. Empower service providers.







3. Use incentives, not rules.







4. Oversight comes with state aid.







Individual Responses:

Pat Barnum (10) (10) (7.5) (10)

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation. (True for c)ities, counties, school districts, citizens.

4. Oversight comes with state aid. Feed at the trough; you get what is in it.

Janice Fransen (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

Bruce A. Lundeen (7.5) (2.5) (5) (5)

2. Empower service providers. Could it be that "empowering those within service delivery systems" along with abundant operating budgets got them into the difficult situation today?

Chris Brazelton (7.5) (10) (10) (10)

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation. However, for every voter that demands efficiency and smaller government, there is another that demands accountability and oversight. Sometimes this even comes from the same voter.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm (7.5) (5) (5) (10)

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation. The problem is Cities and Counties have lost their sense of independence and have fallen into line with the legislature undermining them. They need to Ö fight back.

2. Empower service providers. All public employee innovation must be overseen via citizen advisory councils. Trusting public employees too much leads to fraud, mismanagement, and gambling graft.

3. Use incentives, no rules. Standard (application of) incentives that works well in the private sector, does not work with public employees who are incentivized to use all funds available or lose funds next year. So-called public employee incentives tend to be negative not positive from a citizen point of view.

4. Oversight comes with state aid. Just as our school system is failing because of legislative manipulation, legislative mandates are screwing up every segment of local government as well. Time to end this top down socialist experimentation that does not work in our republic.

Dave Broden (10) (10) (10) (0)

1. Micromanagement inhibits innovation. Definitely-- give the local units grants or lump sums and outlined guidelines for use and with no recourse for returning for more funds to do the job. Ensures accountability and responsibility.

2. Empower service providers. Innovation by individuals or individual organizations who are doing the work is always better than ideas by those who are not involved.

3. Use incentives, not rules. Incentives are viewed as challenges and all people prefer challenges and the opportunity to try new ideas without being told exactly what steps to take and what boxes to fill.

4. Oversight comes with state aid. The State can establish a policy that provides the funding as a lump for a category of services etc. with set guidelines for use and with a reasonably disciplined oversight function. The state does not have to do check list monitoring. There are some types of contracts in the Department of Defense that are awarded with minimal government intervention and monitoring. There can be some good lessons learned from this work.

Bert LeMunyon (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5)

4. Oversight comes with state aid. Anytime state monies are being spent, there should be some oversight by the state to be sure the monies are being used as intended. However, the state should not micromanage programs being administered by counties and localities.

Leanne Pouliot Kunze (7.5) (10) (5) (5)

2. Empower service providers. Front line workers and clientele must have a seat at the table from the very beginning. That is how the necessary innovation and buy-in will succeed moving forward.

3. Use incentives, not rules. Tough to rate this one. Sometimes the consequences of failing to follow regulations are an incentive in and of themselves. It needs to have a purpose and all the stakeholders need to be in the loop.

4. Oversight comes with state aid. Yes and no. Instead of calling it "aid," let's look at it as a system of returning public dollars back into the local communities. The State didn't create the funds, the people throughout the entire state paid into that pot of money with the expectation that it would be distributed in a way that ensures effective and efficient services in their local communities. Maybe the role of state government just needs better clarity so the oversight is also clear and effective.

Don Anderson (2.5) (5) (7.5) (7.5)

4. Oversight comes with state aid. The biggest problem is cities and counties are units of the state and can't be totally independent of some degree of state oversight. Think of the problems that would occur if each county designed its major road system without adjacent counties also agreeing, etc.

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (10) (8)

4. Oversight comes with state aid. Oversight is necessary and important, but it shouldn't mean micromanagement.

Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (9) (9)

Itís not only the Legislature that micromanages but also the executive department with its excessive rule making and oversight for compliance and confoCarolyn Ring (10) (10) (10) (8)

One-size-fits-all does not apply to local government/administration. Localities differ and so should solutions.

Mina Harrigan (8) (8) (10) (6)

Bert Press (10) (10) (10) (5)

Amy Wilde (10) (9) (10) (7)

It's all about overseeing outcomes, not focusing just on process.

Hans Sandbo (na) (na) (na) (na)

We do need to take care of ourselves and not expect anything from the government except a sound national defense and reasonable regulations on various (not easy to define areas - food, environment etc.) Less government is better and everything they do should have a sunset clause.

Tom Spitznagle (10) (10) (10) (10)

Alan Miller (2) (5) (4) (2)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (9) (9) (8) (8)

The state of Minnesota needs a local government policy. It does not have one. Employees in government need to be assured that if they try to save money, they will not be punished for doing so or for failing to do so. When I worked in local government, I tried to implement a plan to encourage departments to save by giving them some of the savings and putting the remainder in the general fund for the coming year. The city council would not go along with the idea.

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (0)

Chuck Lutz (9) (9) (7) (7)

Paul and Ruth Hauge (8) (7) (8) (6)

Cities and counties do not get substantial aid from the Legislature any longer and therefore the cities and counties are picking up greater percentage of their operating costs and should have less state regulation.




The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon,
Joe Mansky,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and  Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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