Is being state treasurer really a full time job?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

They say if you want a task to be done, you should give it to a busy person.

They also say the time it takes to accomplish any job tends to expand to fill the time available.

That's why we fail to be troubled over State Treasurer Shane Osborn's admission that he is keeping the part-time insurance job he held after he left the Navy.

Osborn, who gained fame after landing his damaged spy plane on Chinese soil after a collision with a fighter plane, earns $85,000 a year as state treasurer -- $25,000 more than what his predecessor, Ron Ross, made at the post.

Ross's campaign considered making an issue of Osborn's moonlighting plans, but Ross didn't want to "go negative."

While the state attorney general is barred from having a private practice -- thanks to the Commonwealth Savings Co. scandal involving former Attorney General Paul Douglas -- there's nothing illegal about Osborn holding two jobs.

But that doesn't keep him from drawing plenty of criticism.

Gov. Dave Heineman sees the $85,000 a year job as important enough to demand all of one's time, saying "being state treasurer is a full-time public servant position and you should devote all your energy and time to that position."

"Constitutional officers, I think, are looked at as real, professional executive leadership," Secretary of State John Gale said, in an odd contrast to state senators, who make only $12,000 a year.

For his part, Osborn says he works about 50 hours a week as state treasurer, and spends another 20 hours a week selling aviation insurance. He made a commitment, he said, to stay on the insurance job, which takes special skills.

And it hasn't kept him, for example, from breaking the record this year for returned unclaimed property to its rightful owners.

Besides, he says, he has three children, and who in that position can't use extra income.

Still, we can see how some can be concerned, and we're sure they'll be keeping close watch on the state treasurer for signs of a conflict of interest.

But if Osborn can handle the workload, we say more power to him. And if he can, what does that say about other office holders?

We doubt his second job is more distracting than, say, running for a higher office, for which other constitutional officers seem to have plenty of time.

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