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Hoeven To Appoint New WSI Chimp Soon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   

Where?Though he's had authority to do it for several months now, North Dakota's rarely-seen-and-rarely-heard Governor John Hoeven announced today that he'll eventually take action to do what voters told him to do back in December. 

Gov. John Hoeven`s staff attorney says the governor will soon name a a permanent executive director for the state workers` compensation agency.

Ryan Bernstein, Hoeven`s staff attorney, says the governor will name a new executive director within "the next couple of weeks." Bernstein says Hoeven didn`t use a formal application process but has met with possible appointees.

The agency has been led since last March by former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness. The WSI board named him interim director after Sandy Blunt was fired. Voters approved a ballot measure in November that gives Hoeven the authority to name the new executive director instead of keeping the power with the WSI board.

KFYR-TV

He knew in early November that the voters wanted him to do this.  His official authority to do it kicked in in early December.  It's only taken him three months to get around to doing it, and he hasn't even bothered to solicit applications?  

How do you appoint someone to lead up a state agency if you don't solicit applications?  Seriously.  Do you ask all your donors if any is willing to do it?  Do you ask your political cronies?  

My prediction:  I think it'll be someone who -- like Furness -- doesn't have the courage, integrity or intellectual curiosity to learn all about the issues and problems that have plagued WSI or to do the housekeeping that needs to get done at WSI.  I think it'll be someone predisposed to ignore all of WSI's baggage and skeletons.   I think it'll be a Republican Party insider who -- like Furness -- has little or no experience with competently running a state agency. 

I have four people on my "Short List" of who I think Hoeven has asked to take the job.  My prediction is it that either it will be another Sandy Blunt (someone with experience working in an ethically-challenged capacity in state governement) or it will be another Bruce Furness (a figurehead with little or no experience running a state agency and/or no experience with work comp).  I have an opinion on who Hoeven SHOULD appoint, but I won't even bother writing it here.   There's little risk that it'll be someone I'd support.

Who do you think it'll be?


Comments (21)add comment

Truth said:

...
Rick Berg since he isn't running for re-election.
 
March 03, 2009
Votes: +0

What the Heck said:

Berg would be PERfect for the job
He's already on speed dial with Halvy. Sarcasm aside, Berg, Traynor, Wald or Wrigley. Who knows, maybe Hoeven will reward one of his closest staff like Bernstein. It could be anybody, as long as they're Republican and willing to continue the status quo. What's Ed Schaefer doing these days?
 
March 03, 2009
Votes: +0

doug d. riley said:

...
berg would be a perfect wsi cockroach,hardly anything would change,the safety grants would just come in as a payroll check form,no questions asked,for that matter who's going to ask any questions anyway,not anyone that wants to loss their job,i don't think i've ever seen so many cowards in one state as this one has,the lawmakers of this state can only look at a set and thats when their reading playgirl mag....the bt should be proud because they have their number one fan an supporter back,blunts little butt lick cates....
 
March 03, 2009
Votes: +0

Big Jake said:

...
What fun to speculate. However, does anyone seriously think that whomever is appointed that it will make a difference. Or as the old Alabama governor used to say: " difference? Sure about a dime's worth."
 
March 04, 2009 | url
Votes: +1

leo said:

Who can repair the damage?
WSI remains in a sad state of affairs - the agency's credibility is still in the toilet, the inept board of directors have been allowed to survive, legislative vultures are still circling above, the Governor will not take the necessary actions to correct anything, and worst of all, WSI top management is still in place laughing all the way to the bank.

Who do we have to thank for all of this? Our political sytem has allowed all of this to occur. For the most part, they have had the blessing of the average North Dakotan. Their actions have not been seriously challenged so there is no real accountability.

So, who in their right mind would want to tackle such idiocy? Hopefully, we learned a lesson from hiring a "qualified" individual from out of state. That went well, didn't it? The Governor would be well advised not to pick some well known political hack from his party. The only message to deliver there would be to keep the status quo. I think we've had enough of that.

Whoever is chosen for the job will have to at least provide the illusion that there will be hope for corrective change. Those politicians that secretly are aghast of what has happened need to come out of the closet to seriously contest those that support the present mess. Only then can anyone running the agency make the necessary improvements to reinstate any type of trust in the system.

Maybe the Governor will get lucky and find the right person. Years ago, such an accident happened. The Governor chose a real estate agent, Helen Tracy, to head the agency. While not necessarily popular with the politicians, WSI employees were staunchly behind her. She wasn't really qualified to run an insurance company, but she had the ability to rally the employees to provide the best service they could. She genuinely was a nice person. Maybe such a person could eventually convince everyone of the purpose of WSI in the first place -- be a fair insurance company for everyone involved.

Good luck, Governor. The next person to head the agency will need everyone's support. It will take someone special to convince everyone to do just that.
 
March 04, 2009 | url
Votes: +3

Teaser said:

Here's a hint as to who will be the next WSI CEO
Have it your way.
 
March 05, 2009
Votes: -1

Jimmy Carroll said:

MAKE A LOT OF NOISE !!!
All injured workers in the state should inundate the news outlets with complaints and stories. Make such a LOAD noise that these issues with WSI remain at the top of the news in North Dakota. People everywhere need to know how screwed up WSI has become and they also need to know the Republican party big shots are behind it all. We as the voters must NOT vote for people from a business background because you are letting the fox in the henhouse! Business people that have made it to the state legislature have passed these laws that are killing the injured workers in the state. Wake up people !! Until we vote in people who really care.
 
March 05, 2009
Votes: -1

Chet said:

Yeah
I had heard Bryan Klipfel would be the next WSI director, too, but I'd also been told the announcement would be made on Thursday, so I'm not sure how good my source was.

Anybody know how much experience Bryan Klipfel has with Work Comp issues?
 
March 06, 2009
Votes: +1

What the Heck said:

Familiar name
Was Klipfel part of the team chosen to evaluate the contracts for Conolly and Marsh? Regardless, interesting idea to put retired law enforcement at the top of the chain.
 
March 06, 2009
Votes: +0

Ironic said:

Let's see
Kind of ironic that the H.P. will be allowed in the building
without being announced now!!
I wonder if one of the legal team will be in all of the meetings
that Mr. Klipfel holds, and recording them.
 
March 06, 2009
Votes: +0

iwofndadvocates.com/blog said:

wow
Well any future investigations into WSI will really have an uphill battle now. It seems that the Governor decided to put a watchdog at the front door. With no experience in workers compensation, I want to know how this choice came about. All I see is another layer of protection being put into place at WSI, with a large wage for that protection.

If you injured workers thought you had some chance before, you now have a better chance at hitting the lottery, then getting "Sure and Certain Relief" as the governor has made that less accessible. There will be no more open door policy like Bruce Furness did not allow anyway.

As far as I can see this was a political selection, and possible even a favor appointment. As for experience that is not even a factor in this decision. See I told Doug D. Riley he should have applied for this position. Since he probably had more experience with WSI issues then the Governors choice.
 
March 06, 2009 | url
Votes: +0

Chet said:

Yep
Bryan Klipfel it is. Here's a clip from the AP:

BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota’s House Republican majority leader says the choice of a new workers compensation director is a big mistake.

[ ]

Fargo Rep. Al Carlson says Hoeven shouldn’t have chosen someone with no background in insurance or workers compensation issues.

Hoeven says Klipfel has strong management and people skills. But Carlson says the director of WSI also should have some knowledge of what the agency does.
Dickinson Press

These guys sound like me.
 
March 06, 2009
Votes: +2

What the Heck said:

Carlson's comment interesting
So...is that how he really feels, or do the Republicans want to voice just enough concern to allay any fears this is a party pick vs. the Governor making an independent selection? Call me skeptical.
 
March 06, 2009
Votes: +0

leo said:

The new choice
I knew Bryan Klipfel 25 years ago when he was a state trooper serving the Williston area. I don't know if the Governor got lucky and made the choice or whether he knew Mr Klipfel, but I feel he is the right man for the job. I don't feel his lack of insurance expertise is a matter worth worrying about. I only hope the two appointments replace some of the dead weight they have at WSI, namely Halvorson and Armstrong. I really do think WSI has a better chance of rebounding now compared to yesterday. My compliments to the Governor on his choice. Let's hope for the best!
 
March 07, 2009 | url
Votes: +2

Chet said:

Bonanza
I worked at Bonanza when I was in high school. I thought the owner and managers there were pretty smart. Their policy was that if you wanted to be a manager, you had to first start out as a busboy. After mastering that, you had to learn the ropes as a dishwasher's assistant. Then, after you had that job down, you had to master the dishwasher. Then you had to learn how to be an assistant to one of the assistant cooks. After mastering about seven jobs at Bonanza, a guy could become a broiler chef. After mastering a broiler, the next job would be to be a host and then an assistant manager. Nobody EVER walked in the door on their first day having never worked in a restaurant and ran the show. Never.

Hopefully (even for Truth) it's obvious that I'm not saying running Bonanza is exactly like running a worker's compensation insurance agency. But a guy should never show up on his first day working in an unregulated monopoly insurance company as the president of the company.

I'm just sayin'.
 
March 07, 2009
Votes: +1

doug d. riley said:

...
The brain cells in carlson's head must be burnt out because he's forgetting that furness did'nt have any backbone or background in workmen's comp either,we'll find out in about two weeks if Mr.Klipfel has what it takes,if we do'nt see alot of wsi personal going to the bread line then he's just another one of hoevens funkies...there's alot of wsi personal that needs to go from armstrong all the way down to claims managers but if more than half of the lawmakers are'nt removed there won't be any change or hope for the injured workers of North Dakota....
 
March 07, 2009
Votes: +1

What the Heck said:

Agree with Leo
In WSI's case, I think industry experience would be a handicap. Said it before, the top quality necessary is integrity and an understanding of what the mission of WSI is supposed to be. Operations can be learned. An intolerance for unethical behavior will go a long way toward getting WSI back on track. And maybe a deaf ear to politics, although I never was a fan of having the position be an appointed one. Hopefully Klipfel will figure out what needs to be done and just do it. Quickly.
 
March 07, 2009
Votes: +0

nimrod said:

Frick and Frack
Klipfel - the figurehead for law and integrity. Carlson -- Old School Republican political operative holding the short leash attached to choker collar around Klipfel's neck.
 
March 07, 2009
Votes: +0

leo said:

Working your way up
Chet

Your reasoning for learning the ropes has merit. The only difference with WSI are the politicians. If you're in WSI long enough in a position dealing with politicians, you learn you won't go far if you don't cave in to the politicians. Case in point - present WSI management found out long ago if you cooperate with legislators, your salary increases accordingly. You scrub their back, they'll scrub yours. When the politicians no longer have use for you, you're discarded. WSI has a history of that. But satisfying politicians is not the correct way to run any type of state agency.

No, Chet, I'm not disagreeing with you. But I worked at WSI and I believe this is the best approach to correction that I can think of. I really do think that someone of Klipfel's make-up and background can recognize the good of the organization and let it proceed forward. I also hope he recognizes the dead weights that are still in the organization and disposes of them.

Either way, let's hope for the best and watch what happens. I have faith in the average employee at WSI and their abilities. I hope he listens to the right people.
 
March 07, 2009 | url
Votes: +1

Chet said:

Yeah
You'll notice I haven't said the director should be someone from within WSI's current mgmt. I just think it's a bad idea to have someone come in that's completely unfamiliar with everything about workers comp and insurance. There are a lot of mid-to-upper-level insurance company managers in the world. There are a lot of mid-to-upper-level work comp managers in the world, too. I'd be it wouldn't be that hard to find one that would consider a resume' job like director of north dakota's work comp.
 
March 08, 2009
Votes: +0

What the Heck said:

Yes except...
Having an industry ingrained mindset (if it's the wrong one) wouldn't be helpful, could even make things worse for injured workers. Perhaps people like me just don't have much faith in the 'industry'. I sincerely hope taking proper care of injured workers can become the focus of WSI. We'll see.
 
March 08, 2009
Votes: +0

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