How many Department of Health and Human Services employees does it take to screw in a light bulb? We don’t know but it will take 19 to run their new marketing and public relations shops. I wonder how much they’ll get paid?

You see, they knew something was broken over there. Hell, we all have. I mean, the bad headlines have been coming non-stop since January. Something had to be wrong.

But what was it? Could it have been hiring campaign hacks at inflated salaries? Nah. How about falsely blaming Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for not expanding Medicaid? Nope. What about refusing to answer to the press and having body guards hold off reporters? Not likely. What about losing the most experienced members of the professional staff? Uh-uh. Maybe the large severance packages for people leaving after a month? That wouldn’t do it. What about the $300,000 consulting contracts to political cronies? Big deal. Or altering documents? I doubt it. How about ending WIC or Work First during the government  shut down? It’s just the poors. Who cares?

Finally, Ricky Diaz, the $85,000 man, figured it out. They haven’t been selling it right. Or, as the warden in Cool Hand Luke put it so succinctly, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

So they are about to start communicating to the tune of about a $1 million a year in taxpayer money. That’s running government like a business. Don’t skimp on your branding. And who do you think is going to run this behemoth of a state government communications operation? Why Ricky Diaz, with all of his 10 months of government managerial experience, of course.

The whole thing reads like a script from a bad sitcom. Intellectually challenged governor hires rich socialite with no experience to run large government agency. Socialite, in turn, hires overpriced, inexperienced campaign hack in need of a job between elections. As the agency, predictably, begins to unravel, campaign hack convinces socialite to give him increasing responsibility, even though he’s obviously failing at his job. Meanwhile, Governor is oblivious to the fiasco that everybody else sees and makes silly comments about how hard the socialite is working.

I just hope they cancel it after the first season.


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