Okay, seriously. Readers of The Minuteman know how much we admire Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7). But he shouldn’t be the new State Health Officer.
Just in case you’re not up to speed, here’s a little background. Three State Health Officers have resigned in less than four months. Mylynn Tufte announced her departure in late May. Her replacement, Dr. Andrew Stahl, ditched out last month. He was followed up by Dr. Paul Mariani, who tendered his resignation yesterday.
In the case of Dr. Mariani, it seems his leaving wasn’t on the best of terms. It was announced on Wednesday that, with Governor Burgum’s support, Mariani had expanded quarantine orders to include “close contacts” of those testing positive for COVID-19. The maximum penalty for these folks breaking quarantine would have been a $1,500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
As you might imagine, some folks — including us — didn’t take too kindly to the dictum. The outcry was so significant that lawmakers convinced the governor a day later to have the order rescinded. Mariani then resigned saying that “the circumstances around the handling of the order made [his] position untenable.”
Within minutes of the news, I took to Facebook and flippantly asked if anyone was interested in being Burgum’s State Health Officer. To which Rick Becker responded, “I’ll do it!” And within hours, Becker had emailed the governor’s office his “letter of interest” with a “10-point plan to deal with COVID”.
While I’m guessing Rep. Becker’s letter might have been as flippant as was my Facebook post, I think some of his followers actually wish he’d be appointed.
Now look, I’m sure Rick Becker would be a breath of fresh air in the Health Department. There’s no doubt about that. But actually wanting his appointment to become a reality isn’t a good idea— for a number of reasons. But among them is the fact he’d have to leave the legislature to do it. And that’s just unwise.
If Burgum were smart though, he’d jump at the offer before him. Think about it. He could appoint Becker, get him out of the legislature, and then just fire him later. He’d finally rid himself of arguably the state’s leading conservative voice, and he wouldn’t have to use a political action committee and spend his own money to do it.
No, for reasons that have nothing to do with his qualifications, Rick Becker definitely shouldn’t be appointed the new State Health Officer.
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