Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

NOVEMBER 18, 2008 5:16PM

Bush Trashes the Civil Service System. Does Anybody Care?

Rate: 8 Flag

In a special investigative report that will hopefully get some attention - and outrage - two Washington Post reporters and two helping investigators have uncovered a disgusting practice that has been going on for months in the Bush administration.   They have uncovered a practice that has been tried for decades in Washington during transitions and is alive and well in the outgoing Bush administration.  Whether or not this call out will result in anything being done is anybody's guess.

 The practice, called "burrowing," is as simple as it is onerous.  Political appointees are appointed to civil service jobs, essentially guaranteeing that the policies of the outgoing administration will continue to be followed in the new administration.  Further, once they are in a civil service position they automatically receive the protection of the system against being easily removed.

You can read the entire WaPo article by Juliet Eilperin and Carol d. Leonnig HERE.

I was a career civil servant in DC for about 20 years.  Toward the end of that period I held high civil service positions that were awarded through a competitive merit process.  Moving political appointees into those spots destroys the chance of further advancement for civil service employees into those positions.

Eilperin and Leonnig write, "Just weeks before leaving office, the Interior Department's top lawyer has shifted half a dozen key deputies -- including two former political appointees who have been involved in controversial environmental decisions -- into senior civil service posts.

The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.

Similar efforts are taking place at other agencies. Two political hires at the Labor Department have already secured career posts there, and one at the Department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to make the switch."

Between March 1 and Nov. 3, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Bush administration allowed 20 political appointees to become career civil servants. Six political appointees to the Senior Executive Service, the government's most prestigious and highly paid employees, have received approval to take career jobs at the same level. Fourteen other political, or "Schedule C," appointees have also been approved to take career jobs. One candidate was turned down by OPM and two were withdrawn by the submitting agency.

 The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits."

Such moves are commonplace and should not be seen as a uniquely Bush type of "dirty tricks."   Bill Clinton approved 47 such appointments, including 7 to the highest civil service slots.  All of those positions, once occupied, provide significant job protections that are not afforded to political appointees, so the incoming administration has a very difficult time unseating the incumbent.

Most of the moves uncovered so far have been in the Interior Department, with other similar moves being uncovered in Labor, HUD and in the Medicare/Medicaid offices.  It is likely that many other such moves will be uncovered in most of the other agencies.

The Administration is orchestrating a standard response to the inquiries.  Dana Perino, White House Press Secretary, today said that this was a good thing because it keeps highly knowledgeable and competent employees within the Federal government who would otherwise go back into private industry.  The Interior Department's Solicitor, who has been responsible for the wholesale moving of 6 employees into career jobs, has said almost the same thing.

Environmental, wildlife, and conservation organizations are up in arms because many of the political appointees who are getting changed into career civil servants have been those who have worked hard to promote "... the cause of private property owners over the public interest on issues such as grazing and logging." Others have consistently taken the side of private minerals and energy companies in developing public land to the exclusion of the views of those who wish the public lands to be managed with multi-use and environmental concerns factored in.

There is little that can be done to stop this current activity since there is no law that controls it.  It is difficult to even find out where it is going on or how much is going on.

One last quote from the Washington Post article:

"Outside groups are trying to monitor these moves but are powerless to reverse them. Alex Bastani, a representative at the Labor Department for the American Federation of Government Employees, said it took months for that agency even to acknowledge that two of its Bush appointees, Carrie Snidar and Brad Mantel, had gotten civil service posts.

'They're trying to burrow into these career jobs, and we're very upset,' Bastani said. "Everyone should have an opportunity to apply for these positions. And certainly career people who don't have partisan bent and have 10 or 15 years in their respective fields should have a shot at these positions."

This is one of those subtle abuses of power that makes so many people so cynical when it comes to what happens in Washington.  Many complain of "bureaucrats."  Often that complaint is misdirected and the so called "bureaucrats" are usually the ones who glue Washington together.  Pubic civil service is an honorable profession and it is all too often the politicians who are giving the bureaucracy an unwarranted bad name.  "Burrowing" is clearly one such obscenity.

The Congress should look into this issue and pass a law prohibiting the use of “burrowing” by political appointees into the career civil service.  Meanwhile, President Obama should issue an Executive Order prohibiting such activity in his administration.


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Monte, I read a similar post by Liz Emmerich yesterday about Bush and the trashing of the Civil Servant. You have a much more insiders perspective from the positions you've held but both are VERY meritorious.

Bush destroys everything he touches. Indiscriminately. He's the only man in Texas given an Oil business and finds no oil. The proverbial cluster f**ker.

Thank you for this and trust me when I say I care!


Here's the link to Liz' story.
Thanks for your comments, folks. I had no idea that Liz had posted on something very similar. Her post is very good and worth reading as well. Greg has posted the link in his comment above.

I just posted this comment on Liz' work:

"Hi, Liz. OS is getting too big. Greg Randolph put me on to this very excellent post of yours in a comment on a new post of mine. I just finished a post this evening on the investigative work done by some fine reporters at the Washington Post on this issue of "burrowing," appointing political appointees to civil service positions before the administration leaves town.

The posts overlap, but not in detail. Take a look if you are interested in today's news on this important subject.


Good work.


Thanks for the heads-up post about the Bushies and the other presidents who have done the same thing.

I agree with you, Obama should and hopefully will 'do the right thing' and stop this process that erodes our decent civil servants who try to be politically neutral, as they should.

In so many things there is a straight and narrow path. But so often the path is neither so straight nor so narrow that it is not all that difficult to follow. IOW, the straight and narrow is so often meandering and wide, thus with a bit of fortitude, decency and Humility it is actually easy to follow.

I often think that the virtue of Humility is the most important or key virtue to cultivate in ourselves. With that most important virtue one can more easily follow 'the path' of decent human behavior. Humility generates respect for others points of view, and that is always a good thing. 'Judge not, lest we be judged' is the operative principle here. Humility is becoming to everyone.

The past eight years have seen so much judgment and condemnation coming from the Repubs, and all for political purposes. The damage they have done to religion is almost diabolical. They have trivialized God and politicized religion, using it as a weapon with which to bludgeon others .

I hope Obama-Biden do not fall into the same behaviors. I don't think they will. But 'we the people' will have to be ever vigilant and do a better job of monitoring our pols and letting them know when we think they have gone to far.

As for my CV, My AB is in Psychology and Sociology. My M.A. is in Counseling. And my second M.A. is in School Psychology.

We have some similar interests. I rode motorcycles for almost 25 years, stopping only due to a disability. I still love them, and the feeling of freedom that I enjoyed while riding. I have done some extensive long distance touring and liked to stop and look at and visit small churches along the way.

I've ridden everything from Hondas, to Triumph, to Ossa (a Spanish made Enduro and Trials bike) to Harley to BMW's.

I sang in our church choir for four years and love Light Opera, Classical, Jazz and Rock and Roll. And especially if it is organ music, including Bach, Buxtehude, E. Power Biggs, Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, the Hammond B-3, and groups like the Sir Douglas Quintet who made such great use of that organ. I love pipe organs, their majesty is edifying, to say the least.

For fun, check out APOBA.com and look at the organs pictured there. Our Church organ in Youngstown, Ohio was a Holtkamp made in Cleveland. Also for fun I listen to the program Pipe Dreams on WYSU-FM, broadcast on Fridays at 5pm and again on Sundays at 2pm.

You can listen online to it by Google-ing WYSU and then clicking on the dark HD radio icon in the middle of the page. This will bring up your computers WMP player and allow you to listen to it online. You can also go to: pipedreams.publicradio.org, online.

Our choir master was a nun who had a Ph.D. in music and was a grade school teacher, imagine that. She taught us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Also I like Fiona Ritchie's Celtic music program(Thistle and Shamrock at 7pm) on WYSU every Sunday night and the following Folk music program (Folk Festival at 8pm) and finally Harmonia at 10pm.

As far as Country music is concerned I prefer the older stuff, like Johnny Cash, the Carter Family singers, Hank Williams Sr, and Woody Guthrie for folk music and ballads as well as the Country music of the past, meaning before this current stuff which doesn't do much for me. But that's just me. I prefer the old timey stuff from the early nineteenth century to the 80's.

So Monte, have a great Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. All the best to you and yours.

Monte, I found each post to be informative. There's A LOT we, as Americans need to know about Bush's abuse of power. Each educated me thoroughly. I found it quite substantial that you each posted separately such important information on Civil Service.

I think more people should read both.

Bob: thanks for your comments. Humility has been out of style these last 8 years. We can hope, and I shall pray, that the new Administration will exercise some.

Am I to understand that you in or near Youngstown? That makes you only 2 hours or so away from me. We should stay in touch this winter and perhaps we can share a cuppa together sometime in the Spring. With any luck and some good doctors at the Cleveland Clinic some of these medical problems that have been plaguing me this year should be either under control or in remission.

I checked your blog page and see you joined recently. I don't know what your first blog post will be about, but let me know and I'll take a look at it. One suggestion I might make would be to simply take some of this "this is who I am and what I like" that you have posted in your comments here and turn that into your first piece.

I actually wish more people would do that when they join. I know that sounds like the opposite of "humility" but it is one thing to tell someone who we are and another to brag about it. I don't read any bragging in your comment, so that should not be a problem for you.

Glad to have your comments.

Thanks for your further comments, Greg. I agree that we need more exposure of the so called "small" sins that go on in political administrations. They all add up to a pretty rotten stew. I am never sanguine that the smaller sins get much attention. The public's interest is as fleeting as the last email, the last sound bite, and the last talking head point.

Actually, that's what I like about the "new" blogasphere media. It turns up things that the MSM usually doesn't find. Or, when the MSM does do good work, like the WaPo reporters did on this issue, someone in the blogs, and maybe several, will keep the issue alive longer than it normally would last.

George W. Bush is the Great Destroyer.

I don't particularly like or respect the federal bureaucracy, which is rigid, decrepit, moribund, deadly unresponsive, out of touch with the citizens, impossible to reform, technologically out-of-date, and just the worst possible government imaginable. But this practice makes it even worse, that political appointees can be given an inside track to highly responsible positions and reinforces the oligarchical tendencies of our beltway government.
Monte, thanks for the heads up....my post was more about what had been going on for the last year....this new wrinkle is even more devastating. Thanks.
Interestingly, our local paper carried an article on this exact topic. I probably would have missed it had it not been for your post. Thanks, Liz (although it kind of depresses me).
Oh geez, I meant thanks Monte...
I agree that Liz's post and yours are complementary and don't constitute a blogroll. The executive orders are rolling out and "burrowing" is just one of the objectionable things going on. On Liz's post, a reefer to Harper's adds even more. As a subscriber, I have a copy of the 15,000-word article for reference.

Now, does anyone know anything about the new FMLA executive order that guts the law?
Rich: thanks for your comments. I obviously don't share your views of the bureaucracy, but that is neither here nor there. "Where you stand depends on where you sit", and, as you know, I devoted 20 of the best years of my life to being a public civil servant: ie, a bureaucrat.

We agree on the main thing, that, whatever you think about the Washington bureaucracy, this burrowing by political appointees just makes it worse.

Liz: Dan Froomkin just published a good article on this subject, starting with the investigative reporting that I cite but moving into a lot more of the shenanigans that the Bushies are up to. Its a very good summary of the stuff that has been going on over the last several YEARS, so it is a real validation of your post. Here's the link:


Procopius: I'm glad you found your way to my blog and appreciate it. I'll take any and all thanks, and gladly share them with Liz who is a good writer and researcher. I too like her work.

Everybody: This topic is getting some legs. CNN has had it on tonight; MSNBC has talked about it on Countdown and on Rachel. That is good. What is bad is as soon as Obama makes the final pick for Sec of State this will likely be buried in a flurry of words and TV time on that.
Hi, Randy: I was posting just as you did. I have heard nothing about the FMLA being sand bagged but if you find out more it would be worth a blog post. There are a TON of slimy things that are going to go on in the next 60 days and exposing them to a little fresh air can only help.

This topic started as small leaks years ago. It's well known today but what I find disturbing is that so many people treat this as just common place INSIDERISM, like its a political thing that really is not going to affect Joe The Carpenter's life. This is a shame as is any type of cronyism and yes Monte you are right, Clinotn was a big sponsor of this type of shenanigan. Thanks for being our gadfly here.
I read this article today. Yes every administration has used “burrowing” to protect some of their political appointees and of course this is an abuse of the civil service and should be discontinued.
But no one has done it to the extent of this present Administration nor have there been so much obvious political need to do so. This is where the present Republicans corruption has far outgrown what any Democratic and even other Republican administration has ever done in the past. Let us hope that the Obama Administration will work for an end to this as it appears to need a congressional act to do so.
I also am flattered regarding your email regarding some of my postings. Yes I do hope more read them, but for some reason I don’t attract much attention and have doubts that I will. Of course I don’t always post political writings so they are less likely to be read. I do happen to hope that last one that you spoke, “A Parable of Power” will get more attention as it is one which addresses much of what I see of some who arrogantly feel deserving of fame, fortune and power. In that way it is political, but not so much in your face political.

The Muse
Jason: good to hear from you. It is really frustrating that so many people do seem to think that this type of gaming the system is "just what insiders do." It is very difficult to get their attention when there are so many really big issues out there as well. I think it i s important to remind folks that all these "small sins" as I call them when piled one on top of the other eventually amount to a very stinky pile that all of the "Joes" out there in the real world end up paying for in incompetent government and higher taxes.

Thanks for your comments.


I agree that the Bush administration has been by far the most systematic abuser of power - and blatantly defiant in doing it - than any administration in my memory. As I read the law the Civil Service Act will have to be amended to enforce it on every administration since there is no prohibition in the law now. But, in the meantime, Obama can set the tone by issuing an Executive Order that says that HIS administration will not violate the spirit of the act which was specifically passed by Congress to AVOID abuse of the public service for political purposes.

Your post on the Parable was indeed a political parable and an important one given the arrogance of George Bush. It was very well written and thoughtful. Whether you knew it or not your instinctive understanding of what a parable is was amazingly consistent with the major authors who redact parables of the Bible for a living! Just keep it up. Cream rises to the top. In any case, I like your work, have told others that I do, and will continue to do so at every opportunity.

Thanks for your comments on this post.

A visit in the Spring would be a most welcome event.

Actually, I live in North Jackson, Ohio which is due west of Youngstown and on Mahoning Av (Rt. 18=Tallmadge Rd= Mahoning Av). So I'm actually closer to you than Y' own.

You would travel north on Rt. 77, then go East on Tallmadge Rd(Rt 18) which then becomes Mahoning Av. At the junction of Rt 534 and Rt 18 is my brothers store. It's an easy and straight road all the way.

You can reach me through Jim's Party Shop on Rt.18. Jim is my brother. I live only about five minutes drive from his store. The store is in the phone book, I am not, having just moved here.

Though I grew up in Y'Town I have lived in Cleveland for the last 40yrs. I, too, was a patient at Cleveland Clinic. I have medical problems, Diabetes and Myasthenia Gravis, a terminal illness. But I am still up and about, though I don't drive anymore.

I have been in your area, at Urichsville, for the motorcycle races. Our Western Reserve BMW Club used to ride there for the races, back in the day. We used to travel to Bolivar, Dover and to New Philadelphia. We, also, used to go to Sugarcreek for Amish country shopping. I still get the Lehmans Bros catalog, chock full of Amish items.

Many of our club members, myself included, have also been over to Millersburg and then to Malbar Farms, the home of Louis Bromfield, who is considered by many to be the father of modern farming techniques. As you may know, 'Bogie' and Bacall were married there and often visited as did many notables of the day, including Doris Duke(tobacco heiress and horticulturist).

So Monte, stay in touch and we'll do it. Meanwhile, all the best--
Good questions, Lindsay. While it is hard to fire a federal bureaucrat once they are protected by law, it is not impossible. And it is not impossible to make them quit. At times when I was in DC I had staff levels of upwards of 4-500 people. Too many of them were not worth what they were being paid. The ones that were grossly incompetent I documented and went to battle to get them removed. I never lost one of those battles. But sometimes they took over a year to complete.

Regarding the ones who refused to follow the policies that I outlined I simply made life miserable for them and some quit or moved on to other agencies.

On the really hard nut cases I simply reassigned them to some outpost as far away from DC and the world as they knew it. The vast majority of those refused assignment to some desert outpost east of Nowhere Nevada and quit.

I did assign one guy to a tiny office in the flatlands of Montana, a thousand miles for anywhere. Interestingly he went, loved it, and because a good employee!!! Who knew?

What Obama can do with those guys immediately is remove them from their positions and put his own people in them. The removed employees can't be outright fired but they can be given special projects to work on that do not influence the policy chain of command. I did that quite a bit.

Some of these guys will actually turn out to be good employees once they find out who is boss and that insubordination is not tolerated.

Yipes! Thanks for this, Monte!
Bush has been trashing the civil service system since day one.

When my agency, the dreaded TSA was created, we did not receive collective bargaining, the right to unionize (which has been granted but it's not entirely recognized) and we were not placed on General Schedule, instead we have a pay for performance pay grade system called Performance and Accountability Standards System.

Pay for performance sounds nice, aside from the fact it's all determined by your supervisors and if they want they can screw you out of your year-end bonus just by giving you reprimands.

And to think.... Bush proposed elimnating all of GS and Wage Grade with pay for performance...

Check it out here:

Luckily, Obama is going to grant us collective bargaining and may eliminate PASS.

The thought has occurred to me for the very first time tonight that I truly wonder how GW treated his toys and treasured belongings as a child. I am getting the feeling that he destroyed everything in his wake; and did so in a passive-aggressive way so as to only to anger her Governess (did his parents have any involvement with his upbringing), or who ever was lording over him during his youth.

Nothing surprises me about George Bush anymore other than he seems to get away with it all.

"Fast Company" magazine published an article a few years ago about how grossly incompetent, passive-aggressive and just outright nuts manage to tend to progress in their respective professions in spite of hugely glaring character flaws. A former CEO of Sunbeam comes to mind of how he used and abused the company and its' employees based on his mood on any given day. The focus of the article was indirectly about the Bush Administration, but primarily focused on nightmare bosses.

History will be the judge of him indeed. Eight more days! Lord help us all. :)

Hi, Sara. YES! 8 more days. But we must not get our hopes up to high for instant improvements. I know you won't do that but many will. I notice that even the congressional democrats are starting to test Obama. It will take a little while to get them into line. The key to that is to remind them how far ahead of the lesser offices he ran on Nov. 4. He pulled a lot of them along for a free ride. They owe him and when Rahm gets some of them in a corner they will see the light. But all that takes time.

Meanwhile, 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 = 8 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!