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 Response Page - McFarlane  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Carol McFarlane Interview of



Representative McFarlane cites collaboration among units and levels of government, business and labor as key components in improving public services. She calls for a state strategic plan. She identifies several proposals for new approaches to public services that have come to the attention of the Redesign Caucus. 

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 McFarlane.  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.

use of the state's financial resources.

1. Collaboration. (8.9 average response) More collaboration among different units and levels of government, business and labor is an important component in improvement and innovation of public services.

2. Strategic plan. (8.9 average response) A strategic plan is needed in Minnesota as a guide for more targeted and prudent use of the state's financial resources.

3. Location. (9.1 average response) Innovative new approaches for public services can emerge in any community, regardless of location or size.

4. Pioneering effort. (7.6 average response) A pioneering effort undertaken in Denmark, where local government reorganization was led by the units of local government in various regions ought to be explored in Minnesota.

5. Action. (9.1 average response) A least one significant action on new approaches to public services ought to occur in the 2011 session. 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Collaboration







2. Strategic plan







3. Location







4. Pioneering effort







5. Action







Individual Responses:

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (0)  (5)

1. Collaboration. So long as it is a supportive, bottom-up effort with collaboration as the goal, not a Socialist, top-down effort with control as the goal.

2. Strategic plan. Only so long as it is an open and inclusive effort rather than another top-down socialistic control model pushing predetermined goals and a forgone conclusion.

3. Location. Only not on the ends of socialist strings. Over my 35+ years of very active public involvement, almost every real public input opportunity has been stifled, diminished or undermined. If the power to make those decisions isn't returned with the effort then only officially sanctioned innovation.

4. Pioneering effort. First we need a consensus that this consolidation is needed, oh and by the way it needs rural input not more of your top-down socialist decision making. Your socialist example of coercion as an option to direct socialist top down action is extremely offensive to this country boy. It does serve to show those of us rural folks just how adamant you (people) are toward eliminating us.

5. Action. Trust is first needed before one can accept such a statement. At this point my view is that this is just another push to shovel more socialistic changes down our throats with as little input from us as possible. Only when I see the direction you are heading as beneficial to those of us in the 62% (not rich or middle class) will you ever get my support. Right now I see these as only more effort by our metro neighbors to further undermine our control of our own destiny.

Peter Hennessey  (7.5)  (0)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

1. Collaboration. Their first order of business should be to reexamine exactly what services each should provide, to remove duplication, and to streamline the procedures so as to reduce the size of the bureaucracy to the absolute bare minimum.

2. Strategic plan. This sounds too much like Soviet-style central planning, and also contradicts the proposal to examine and possibly follow Denmark's example  (no. 4 below). Otherwise, see 1., above.

3. Location. It's hard to see how there is room to innovate the delivery of services that have plagued civilization at least since Roman or biblical times. There is nothing new about government bureaucracy and welfare.   The only innovation that needs to take place is to simplify the procedures so you don't need a degree in public administration or law just to fill out a stack of forms, let alone process them.   OK, there is a need for another innovation. And that is the idea that government jobs exist NOT to employ those who couldn't make it in the private sector, but to serve the public as efficiently and as unobtrusively as possible.

4. Pioneering effort. Let's not overlook some basic truths here. Denmark is a socialist country with a welfare culture quite alien to us, still, and a standard of living that is quite Spartan even compared to our "poor."     But if the idea you want to import is to move control and decision making as far down to the local level as you possibly can, then yes, by all means, go for it. Running everything from the state level only means more and more layers of mid-level bureaucracies totally removed from the people being served.

5. Action. No, careful reexamination must take place first. All problems can be traced directly to haste and waste resulting from a compulsion to do something, anything, as long as you look like you are doing. Politics is the only arena where you don't have to prove that something will work, before you force it on everybody. You couldn't possibly run a business or a science/engineering project in that manner.

Anonymous  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Bob White  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Collaboration. I was not at the meeting with McFarlane, but the discussion as summarized gives me great hope.  Her open-minded, forward-looking, collaborative-intensive approach to innovation and improvement should be a model for her legislative colleagues.

5. Action. Moderately agree only because the "At least" language is moderately limiting.

John Crosby  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

4. Pioneering effort. There are probably many other models worldwide to explore. 

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

RC Angevine  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (10)

1. Collaboration. I believe this is a key factor in improving the financial efficiency of government.  We need to work together at all levels.

5. Action. Absolutely

Ed Oliver  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)

Dave Broden  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Collaboration. Many cities and units of government are leading and doing this collaboration. The State needs to facilitate this process with incentives and appropriate enabling legislation. Including the private sector and building stronger and innovative partnership of government and business/industry must be included and this will take some enabling legislation and willingness of government to step forward and try something new. Incentives to both the public and private side must be key.

2. Strategic plan. I believe very strongly that a vision should be established and that the vision must be established by citizens across Minnesota not by a government or "think Tank" group. To move beyond the vision to a strategic plan I also agree strongly that such a plan should be established but I mark moderate agreement because I believe that while the vision can be placed in concrete--the strategy must be fluid and subject to change and adjustment on a regular or as needed basis. Static strategic plans become outdated and sit in a desk drawer or on a shelf. If the strategic plan is dynamic it will reflect real time events and people will react positively. Business strategic plans have evolved to living documents, as should the stateís.

3. Location. Innovation comes from people, from individuals, and sometimes from groups. Some recent articles suggest there are a greater number of innovations in a more populist area. This is a very arrogant position. People will innovate any time and any place so perhaps the key is to ensure that there is a process to identify and capture the innovation regardless of where it comes from.

4. Pioneering effort. Minnesota like all other areas must be open to the experiences and lessons learned from others. While MN has a strong record of leadership and innovation we can integrate experience into MN considerations.

5. Action. Redesign must be long term and tied to vision to govern with the best structure, operations, and service delivery possible. This will require a process of evolving innovative change as ideas and opportunity, as well as problems, arise. Government structure, operation, and services must evolve to be a dynamic activity not based on static process. This will require government (to have) a new paradigm and approach.

Don Anderson  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Collaboration. Under our present situation we aren't getting anywhere near improving public services.

2. Strategic plan. We have limited financial resources under our present situation and we need a strategic plan to try and solve our present getting nowhere situation.

4. Pioneering effort. Itís worth looking into, a regional approach. The biggest problem may come in defining "regions" and their scale.

Mary Rossing  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Collaboration. It takes two to tango.  Some of us are willing and open to finding efficiencies between units of government but there are many that are territorial.  Also real gain requires that there will be benefits for both entities.  You also have to realize that it is much harder for rural communities to share services with each other because of the distance.  Suburban/urban density makes this much easier so more efficiencies can be found.

2. Strategic plan. A strategic plan would be great but first a shared understanding of what we need to provide for our citizens.  Wants no longer are what we can afford and we need to differentiate between the two.

3. Location. When you don't have a lot of resources you are forced to be creative.  Small communities understand this.  However our staffs are stretched so thin, doing many tasks, wearing many hats.  Larger communities have the ability to find efficiencies between and within departments.

4. Pioneering effort. I sincerely believe that local governments can figure out solutions but first we have to roll back the multitude of state and federal mandates that are strangling them.  Business tax reform is also necessary so that smaller communities can be competitive and grow their tax base.

Frank Schweigert  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

2. Strategic plan. One key area is the relationship between real estate development and public services. Too often, we have let real estate development lead and then followed with government services (roads, sewer, schools, etc.) at high taxpayer cost. Let's turn this around, establish growth areas and limits, target population growth where there is already infrastructure in place, and plan for maximum use of public transit.

Bright Dornblaser  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  

Chris Stedman  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

The education system is a great example. It must be radically changed and overhauled. The experts arenít being heard, and the politicians arenít equipped with the tools to make the changes that are necessary.

Peter Heegaard  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

This is a very encouraging report. I am a 10 on all 5 categories. Remind me where you meet and how often. Thanks.

Ray Cox  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)

Much more work needs to be done on cooperation between governments. We have a mishmash of local governments providing services from snow plowing and road repair to social services that are not effectively coordinated. There seems to be far too much reliance on ďthatís the way weíve always done itĒ as opposed to Ďwhy are we doing this when XXX is also doing it?í

Larry Baker  (7)  (10)  (6)  (na)  (9)

As a possible case study: Streamline the accounting system between the U of M and the state agencies.  There should be one universal system; today, individual units make up their own rules, some of which are impossible to comply with.  This must waste millions of dollars each year, wasting time by agency staffs and UM researchers.  Another: develop a transparent planning process for the Legacy funds, one that is based on professional planning and analysis outside the main agencies. 

John Milton  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Sorry -- this sounds to me like a "Minnesota nice" way to muffle the public employee unions.  Rep McFarlane and her pals have no cred with me.  I'd rather go to Madison and protest the Koch-brosí governor's fascism.

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

Robert J. Brown  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  

Carolyn Ring  (7)  (10)  (10)  (4)  (10)

Re-design and restructuring of state government has been explored, studied, talked about etc. for over 30 years.  Committees meet, come up with plans, but no timetable is developed.  Time is running out to do something, and our current fiscal problems should make it mandatory.

William Kuisle  (5)  (6)  (7)  (6)  (7)  

Ellen T Brown  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

What about creating incentives for local governments to innovate, collaborate, merge, etc.??? Maybe related to state aid, as dollars always seem to speak loudest.

Alan Miller  (8)  (7)  (9)  (8)  (9)

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (8)  (9)  (3)  (5)  (9)  

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)  (10)

I am very encouraged to know of these efforts at redesign. McFarlane provided lots of meat and potatoes for thinking and I am inspired to work on a major redesign of K-12 education as a result.

Al Quie  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)

Tom Spitznagle  (7)  (10)  (10)  (9)  (10)

John James, former Dept. of Revenue Commissioner, has some very good ideas about structural reform on his website

Terry Stone  (10)  (5)  (10)  (5)  (10)

The Beltrami County redesign effort (as linked) has nice politically correct ideas, but ultimately depends upon metrics that lend themselves poorly to the quantification of sociological phenomena. The subjective nature of these metrics, e.g., how long a client has been alcohol-free and no longer doing B & Eís, is hard to determine in any economical manner. The incentive built into the system would be to ignore relapses unless they ended up on the front page of the Bemidji Pioneer.

2. Strategic plan. A strategic plan sounds a little like a five year plan and centralized command and control; hardly the stuff of redesign. 

4. Pioneering effort.  Iím not sure that what a socialist country considers redesign success necessarily plays well here.

5. Action. One significant action of redesign would portend the status quo for the foreseeable future; if we canít make hay while the sun is shining, then we probably wonít be making hay.



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
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