Faye Bernstein is a compliance officer within the Minnesota Department of Human Services. According to this article, Bernstein “said she has been excluded from the work she did before speaking out, told by superiors that her opinion ‘is no longer needed,’ and encouraged to take time off or seek therapy when she objected to the retaliation she continues to face. And Bernstein said some employees have even started ‘wild and hurtful rumors’ to discredit her.”

The article continues, saying “Bernstein, a 14-year veteran of the department, raised concerns in July about ‘substandard and noncompliant’ state contracts that were being approved by leaders in the agency’s behavioral health division, which pays out millions of dollars in contracts and grants for programs that include battling addiction and the opioid epidemic.”

This can’t continue. DHS needs to initiate an investigation into this immediately. Last night, I wrote this post to question Jodi Harpstead’s qualifications for the job of being the commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services. According to State Senator Michelle Benson, Commissioner Harpstead “said that DHS is ‘not in free fall, in crisis, in total chaos.'”

That’s BS. A department that taunts, intimidates and smears whistleblowers is in free fall and is in total chaos. Instead, Commissioner Harpstead is focused on building morale. Seriously, that’s her highest priority. It all got started with this introduction:

You can’t fix a problem until you admit that you have a problem. Thus far, Gov. Walz hasn’t admitted that he’s created a problem. In general, the DFL has pretended that DHS only needs a few minor fixes around the edges. That isn’t supported by the facts. The facts are that whistleblowers are getting harassed and tens of millions of dollars have gotten improperly shipped out the door.

The fact that Gov. Walz, the latest DFL protector of the DHS, has proposed hiring an outside consultant to make recommendations on how to break up DHS should say that DHS is in chaos. The fact that Ms. Bernstein continues to get intimidated for doing the job she was hired to do is proof that DHS is still in free fall and not improving.

The Senate, in its advise and consent role, should reject Harpstead. The Senate should tell Gov. Walz and the DFL that it’s time to find a leader who will fix the DHS within a year or less.

DHS is too important to too many people to let it flounder under substandard leadership. What’s required is a leader from the private sector who knows how to instill integrity and enforce the laws. Commissioner Harpstead isn’t that person.

That’s why it’s time for her to go.

3 Responses to “Harpstead must go. Here’s why”

  • eric z says:

    It is easy for Benson to throw stones. If she’s any plan and policy in mind, beyond criticizing others, what is it? As one in Republican leadership, has she, or they, any position besides bitch, bitch, bitch without any positive idea how a true problem should be fixed? With Trump, the plan of the opposition is removal; as Benson wants with one in opposition. In each instance, removal resonates with some, but I agree it is wrong to deny there is a big problem. With DHS. As with Trump.

  • Gary Gross says:

    The stones that were thrown are mine. I’m the person criticizing Harpstead. Further, breaking up a department the size of DHS can’t be done overnight if you want it done right.

  • eric z says:

    Agree, but answers must go beyond beggaring the payroll. This Bernstein, the story says 14-year veteran. That’s starting 2006, Pawlenty time; indeed 2006, if I have times correct, was an election year, between two Pawlenty years. The woman went 14 years without complaint; even when Benson’s party held sway. Or was she complaining all along, but only now getting traction? If you know.

    And yes, the DHS mess should not have happened and an overhaul is needed. If not a problem during Pawlenty years when Bernstein was hired; a doubtful premise, but for now go from it – THEN the problem arose during Tina Smith – Mark Dayton years, where neither was spectacular, nor bold enough. “Tax the Rich” Dayton was a disappointment when he didn’t; and Smith is one, from then and now on sulfide mining and in general. We will not get a Medicare for All vote from her and Archie. At a guess. I would love to be proven wrong.

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