In a time when political winds seem to effortlessly sway public discourse, the integrity of public employees and their unyielding adherence to professional ethics emerges as a pillar of stability. This was underscored today by Dan Robinson, the research chief for the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, who stood firm against the censorship of labor data by the Governor’s office..
Reflecting on this incident took me back to the crucial lesson on the indispensable role of public employees in maintaining a well-oiled bureaucratic machinery. Their steadfast commitment ensures that administration does not descend into political chaos, providing a buffer against partisan whirlwinds that threaten to disrupt essential services to the public.
Public bureaucracies, often perceived as slow and cumbersome, are in fact bedrocks of consistency and resilience. They keep the wheels of government turning, even when political stalemates, like the recent impasse in Congress over the election of a speaker, throw a wrench in the legislative machinery. The unwavering daily operations of these bureaucracies ensure that essential services remain unaffected, showcasing the value of a non-partisan public service sector.
The episode involving the withholding of a report on teacher pay in Alaska is a stark reminder of the need to shield public service and public access to objective information from political interference. The governor’s office’s decision to halt the publication of a report, which was nothing out of the ordinary as it delved into wages, tenure, job counts, and comparisons with other states, raises continued questions about the pressures exerted on non-partisan entities by this administration.
As the debate around this incident unfolds, it beckons a closer examination of the fine balance between political oversight and the autonomy of public institutions. In the case of the Governor’s previous request for letters of fealty, that fine balance has been more of a blunt stick. The robustness of Alaska’s, and by extension, our nation’s democracy hinges on the ability of public servants to execute their duties and share objective data with an unwavering commitment to neutrality and the greater good.
Dan Robinson’s stance not only pushes back against the tide of political encroachment but also encourages a discourse on the preservation of professional integrity in public service. It’s a discourse that demands attention, reflection, and a collective resolve to uphold the principles that anchor a fair, transparent, and efficient bureaucracy in the face of political chaos.
Thank you to Dan for standing up and pushing back at the chaos.
References and Resources
11/9 Dunleavy gets an F for putting politics ahead of good government. Larry Persily
11/5 Former Alaska labor commissioners decry teacher pay data suppression. Ed Flanagan, Click Bishop, Heidi Drygas and Jim Sampson
10/27/23 Dan Robinson’s Commentary: Governor’s office censorship of labor data is troubling
10/27/23 (ADN/Alaska Beacon Investigation: Alaska governor’s staff blocked publication of state agency’s analysis of teacher pay. By James Brooks)