If we were dictators, we would say all sorts of cool things. You know, things like “bathe her and bring her to me” and “the streets will flow with the blood of the non-believers.” We would also routinely demand the head of Alfredo Garcia, the Holy Hand Grenade and William Wallace face paint – all while strippers with boom boxes on their shoulders played Rage Against the Machine as they roller skated in circles on our marble floor.
This time the bullet cold rocked ya …
Anyway, according to staffers at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – a hybrid agency that should have been restructured over a decade ago – new director Catherine Templeton is quite the dictator. She may not have the roller skating strippers with boom boxes circling her smooth surfaces (yet), but to them she’s a dictator nonetheless.
As evidence, Templeton delivered the ax to nine employees in the agency’s Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) office this week – news which broke exclusively on our new “wire” format.
“By reducing OCRM overhead, we saved $353,158.25 that can support our core efforts to improve public health and environmental outcomes, and we’ll continue to seek out opportunities to focus our resources on promoting public health and protecting the environment in the weeks and months ahead,” Templeton said in a statement.
Nice … our only question? Where’s that extra quarter going? Because we’ve got a bouncy ball in the coin machine at our favorite Mexican restaurant that we’ve been coveting.
In an email to employees informing them of the moves, Templeton elaborated on the restructuring – arguing that it would better facilitate streamlining between the OCRM and the agency’s Environmental Quality Control (EQC) division.
Yeah … we’re not choking on alphabet soup at the moment, either (editor’s note: NOT a menu item on our founding dictator’s menu).
“In an effort to better utilize EQC capacity and focus OCRM exclusively on delivering services to the public, we are merging OCRM’s administrative support functions with those of EQC,” Templeton writes in the email.
“Last month, when I arrived, the OCRM Beaufort office was in danger of closing because the program did not have the funding to pay the rent for the remaining 3 employees,” Templeton continues. “Imagine my surprise when I learned that EQC rents the same building and there were 3 desks vacant. Instead of terminating the 3 OCRM employees, we moved their desks to EQC office space and are renegotiating our lease down. In Charleston, EQC is on one floor and OCRM the next. There is no reason, with the volume of calls and visitors, to have a reception area and separate receptionist on both floors. These are just a couple of examples of the benefit to treating DHEC as one agency.”
Okay … all that makes sense to us.
Templeton isn’t “saving” $350,000 a year via this restructuring, though – she’s plugging that money back into the agency. But even if Templeton were to return this money to the state’s general fund, it wouldn’t be “saved” there either.
Why not? Because there is currently no mechanism to send surplus funds back to the taxpayers – which is why government is growing by $1.3 billion (at least) during the current fiscal year and why it is projected to grow by another $1 billion in the coming fiscal year.
And there’s the real problem …
We don’t need meaningless “efficiencies” in government, we need actual savings … and we’re not going to get those until there’s actually a way to make them real for taxpayers.