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McDonnell's jobs commission spurs complaints

Anita Kumar

With more than 60 members, Gov. Bob McDonnell likes to joke that his jobs commission is the biggest commission in Virginia government history. But it may not be big enough.

Ever since the Governor's Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission formed in April, people have complained that McDonnell left out representatives of key interests groups that should have been included.

There was no one from the health-care industry. No local elected officials. No small retailers.

Instead of adding members to the commission, which includes Cabinet secretaries, legislators and a variety of influential business leaders, the panel's chairmen, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (the state's chief jobs creation officer) and Bob Sledd (the governor's senior economic adviser), are forming small advisory groups.

A health-care task force consisting of six hospital CEOs and Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association officials met for the first time Thursday. A retailers group met Wednesday. And a representative from the governor's office went to the Virginia Municipal League's most recent meeting to reach out to local elected officials.

"We're trying hard to be inclusive,'' said Randy Marcus, Bolling's chief of staff. "All the stakeholders will be part of the process."

The commission, which McDonnell created through Executive Order Number One on Inauguration Day, will send its recommendations to McDonnell by Oct. 16.

By Anita Kumar  |  July 2, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Here we go again--another commission that started with high hopes but will end with bland "consensus" recommendations that cover the same ground as existing programs. Who doubts for a minute that there will not be a call for "more resources" to support the existing infrastructure that hasn't exactly risen to the occasion during the economic downturn?

This commission needs fewer interest groups offering "input" and more creative thinking that is unbeholden to the hidebound bureaucracies that litter job-related agencies and boards.

Many commission members are just passing time, not doing any thinking or research. They are merely following the lead of assigned staff--the individuals really doing the work.

Here's an idea for the next time establishing a commission inevitably becomes the answer to a pressing problem: establish TWO commissions. One will be made up of the usual suspects, those who seem to populate every commission (when do they have time to do anything well?). The other will be made up of those who actually work in the area under study, or those who have actually written about or studied the topic.

The two commissions will be totally independent. On the due date, each will submit its report. I'm willing to bet that the recommendations will be radically different, but at least the Governor will have a real policy choice, not warmed-over pablum that he gushes over and is so thankful for because of the commission's hard work, blah blah blah.

Posted by: Falstaff1 | July 5, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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