Only the governor knows.
Gov. Terry Branstad knows more about closing mental health facilities than mental health advocates. He knows more about dramatically revamping Iowa’s Medicaid program, affecting thousands of Iowans, than any state lawmaker. He doesn’t need to explain, advise or consult.
He has the power. He knows what’s best.
“I am the chief executive. I was elected by the people of Iowa to reduce the size and cost of state government, and to make it more efficient and to modernize it and provide better services to the people of Iowa,” Branstad told reporters this week.
One-man government is very efficient, you have to admit.
Branstad knows more about what resources public schools need than educators or administrators. He even knows what day school should start. Forget local school boards.
He knows how the Iowa Utilities Board should decide its cases, and anyone who disagrees hits the highway. Branstad knows how workers’ compensation cases should be handled. He knows unemployed Iowans really want service from kiosks, not humans.
After more than 20 years in office, he knows his Democratic critics don’t have the guts or resources to stop him. He knows, in this era of tribal politics, that Republicans who assail, for good reason, President Barack Obama’s overuse of executive power will sit on their hands when a member of their own team does the same.
Sure, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that closing workforce offices was an overreach, and it may make a similar call on closing the juvenile home at Toledo. Either way, Branstad knows by the time the lumbering judicial system renders a verdict, his decisions will be irreversible.
What are they going to do? Put him in separation of powers jail?
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Branstad knows more than local elected officials, state legislators, the courts and the federal government. Checks are for wimps. Balances are for losers. The Legislature is handy when you need something unpopular done, like raising the gas tax. Otherwise, forget ‘em.
The governor knows so much that it’s astounding when he doesn’t know something, like when his staff made secret employment settlements or his SUV was doing a hard 90.
And unless you happen to run a large utility, sell lean finely-textured beef, need a tax break for your fertilizer plant, lead a major farm commodity group or write large checks to the governor’s campaign, he probably doesn’t know you.
And that’s the big problem with one-man government. A lot of power gets concentrated in a place that only some influential people can access. Sure, you can call your county supervisor or state senator with a problem, but it’s tough to get an appointment with the big guy.
Maybe you think your voice can’t carry all the way up to the governor’s office. But don’t worry. He already knows what you need.
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