Over the years, Minnesota has enjoyed a reputation as a “good government” state. Political scientists tell us that Minnesotans are more likely to believe that government institutions have an important role to play in supporting the public good.
But Minnesotans are hardly immune to the skepticism about government that seems baked into the national DNA. And no wonder. Continued problems with MNSURE and the tragic failures in Minnesota’s child welfare system are just two recent examples of state government malfunction.
Is state government losing its mojo? How well are Minnesota’s public bureaucracies doing the public’s work? What makes an effective public leader? And, even more basic, what does government do, anyway?
Few Minnesotans are in a better position to discuss questions like these than one of Minnesota’s most respected public leaders, Ken Peterson. In addition to his current position as commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry, Ken has served as deputy attorney general, deputy commissioner for utility regulation with the state Department of Public Service, director St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development Department, and chief of staff for St. Paul mayor Jim Scheibel.