In today's Pioneer Press, Joe Soucheray comments on a recent Minnesota state legislative auditor's report regarding the use consultants by state agencies. This practice resulted in payments of $188 million over the past two years. As Soucheray speculates, it's possible that some of these expenditures were justified. However, it's an almost certainty that many were not.
The most egregious example of the latter seems to be the curious case of Tim Gard, an alleged comedian from Denver. He was hired by something called the "Human Services--Families with Children Division" (and yes, that's a Minnesota state agency, not something Isaac Asimov came up with to describe how Martians will organize the care and feeding of it's earthling livestock herds). Gard's mission, to teach state welfare workers how to use humor on the job. His fee, $40,000.
Given some of the wild hyperbole and howl worthy reasoning I've heard espoused by welfare rights activists regarding the upcoming budget cuts, I'm not sure the use of humor is a problem among those living off the public largesse. Events such as a group of protesters outside the capital building holding signs that say "You Suck Pawlenty, Make the Rich Pay!" must be a joke, right?
But despite the impish tendencies of the employees and clients of government, Tim Gard was brought in anyway. And what did we get for our 40 grand? From his web site, here is a sample of the kind of banter soon to be heard from a public servant near you:
Throughout my programs I give examples of how to use ordinary items, such as toys, in extraordinary ways. For example, I have a hand puppet that looks like an orange crab that I call a "cube crab." I like to crabcrawl along the top of a coworkers cubes with the crab and when they see just the crab I say in my crab voice, "Are we being a little crabby today?" (Then I run away!)
Excuse me while I clean up the Diet Coke I just spat all over my computer screen while reading the above sentences, and trust me, my reaction was an editorial comment and not an involuntary spasm of laughter. Maybe that’s why Tim Gard runs away after delivering his crab jokes, he’s tired of wringing Diet Coke out of his work shirts.
Here’s another example of what Minnesota taxpayers paid $40,000 for:
At the end of every day, it's important to leave work and not drag all the situational stress home with you. I suggest at the end of every day, the last thing you should do is throw your arms in the air and do your best impression of a gymnastic "dismount" and then, as you leave your cube, point at your desk and say "STAY" and then go home. Leave work at work. It will all be waiting for you when you arrive the next day to again, "do that voodoo you do so well."
I can honestly say if Tim Gard worked in the cubicle next to me, I would try to kill him.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.