by Karl Kurtz
We don't have historical data to back this up, but at NCSL we have the impression that an unusual wave of retirements by senior legislative staff managers began about a year ago and is likely to continue for the next several years, as baby boomers begin to reach retirement age. Our observation is that the movement to expand and professionalize legislative staff that began in the late 1960s led to a generation of staffers who committed their careers to the state legislature and rose to management positions. Those senior managers are now starting to retire.
State Legislatures magazine had a story, "Brain Drain," about this in February 2007, but the article dealt mostly with efforts at succession planning that some legislatures are undertaking and did not mention many names of retirees. Here is a list, in no particular order, that we have compiled of directors or assistant directors of legislative staff offices who have retired or announced their retirements in the last 18 months or so (some of these dates are from memory and have not been checked, so don't hold us to the 18 month time frame):
- John Olsrud, Director of the North Dakota Legislative Service Agency
- John Massey, Utah Legislative Fiscal Analyst
- John Phelps, Clerk of the Florida House (who subsequently took a job as curator of the Old State Capitol history museum)
- Carleton Turner, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, Texas
- Bill Russell, Chief Counsel, Vermont, effective June 2008
- Carl Bianchi, Director of the Idaho Legislative Service Agency
- Lois Menzies, Director of the Montana Legislative Service Agency
- Jim Pelligrini, Deputy Legislative Auditor, Montana
- Charles Walker, Director, Georgia House Budget Office
- Janie Miller, Budget Director, Kentucky Office of Budget Review
- Ken Dick, Director, Arkansas Legislative Fiscal Services
- Connie Hardin, Tennessee, Director of the Office of Legislative Budget Analysis
- Linda Hawker, Secretary of the Illinois Senate
- Paul Taniguchi, Chief Clerk of the Hawaii Senate
- Joyce Grimes, Director of South Carolina's Library and Information Services
We're certain that this is not a comprehensive list, so we welcome your additions to this list via comments to this post or an email message to us. Please confine your additions to top or deputy staff leaders who have retired in 2006 or 2007.
For legislative staff managers who are interested in the problem of replacing the talents and experience of the retiring generation of staff leaders, this will be one of the key challenges of legislatures in the 21st century that will be discussed at the Senior Management Leadership Seminar in San Diego, Nov. 7-10. A limited number of slots are still available for that seminar.