Friday, October 21, 2005

Idaho Capitol doublespeak

When government bureaucrats want to avoid explanations, they resort to doublespeak to confuse the curious.

Behold the Idaho Department of Agriculture, whose doublespeak went into action after Agriculture director Pat Takasugi fired the state veterinarian, Dr. Clarence Siroky.

Takasugi has drafted a proposal for state legislators to make the veterinarian's post more advisory rather than full-time, even allow it to be optional and unmanned.

Dr. Siroky, who complained to the director of a "hostile" workplace, accuses Takasugi of a "power grab—a control thing." In fact, under the Agriculture chief's proposal, the director, indeed, would have the final say on everything from vaccinations to quarantine of contagious animals.

Veterinarians around the state are concerned, saying animal health and its effects on public health requires a professional vet overseeing such matters.

The director's public relations spokesperson, Wayne Hoffman, explains this away, according to an Associated Press report, by saying the director is concerned the veterinarian didn't have time for medical duties because of administrative chores.

Say what? Abolish a job to give the state vet more time for his work?

Too much of the public's health—dealing with mad cow disease, West Nile fever and now bird flu among others—rests with professional oversight of the health of animals, which prompts questions about why the agriculture director wants to abolish a mainstay enforcement officer overseeing animal health.

Before changing a word of the state law covering the state vet, a legislative committee should find out why this precipitous firing and equally hurried rush to change the status of the office to an optional post in a critical specialty occurred. Public confidence and safety demand it.

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