I’m Still the Chief of Staff, I’m Still the Chief of Staff, I’m Still…

Rumors have been swirling since Gov. Bill Ritter named Don Elliman to the newly-created post of State Chief Operating Officer (COO) that Chief of Staff (COS) Jim Carpenter was being bumped out of the administration. An emphatic no (and a little overly-emphatic, if you ask us) is the word from the Governor’s office.

As The Denver Post reports (we’ve helpfully highlighted the message in bold):

Gov. Bill Ritter’s chief of staff says he will not be superseded by a new “chief operating officer” – but rather co-manage state government with him.

Jim Carpenter, who has served as chief of staff since the Democratic governor was elected, said he and Don Elliman, Ritter’s economic development director, will be “partners” in administering the state.

Don and I are the senior management team,” Carpenter said. “I’m the chief of staff. Don and I both report to Bill Ritter. I’m still the chief of staff, and Don is a partner with me in that.”

Elliman’s comments mirrored Carpenter’s.

“I work with Jim, and I report to the governor,” Elliman said. “He (Carpenter) is still chief of staff.

Are we all clear on that? Pretty good message consistency, we’d say. But then it all breaks down later in the story…

Ritter named Elliman, the former president of Kroenke Sports Enterprises and a longtime publishing executive who oversaw advertising and marketing for Time Inc., as the state’s first chief operating officer on June 8…

…Carpenter and Elliman said managing the state was a big job that required more muscle with some $3 billion in stimulus funds headed to Colorado.

“It’s really a significant job to effectively manage state government, particularly with all the ARRA money that has come in,” Carpenter said. He dismissed suggestions that there was a management shake-up in the office.

“We’re trying to manage an $18 billion enterprise in a way that is effective and delivers what it’s supposed to to the taxpayers,” Carpenter said.

Elliman is still serving as head of the economic development office, saying he was trying to do both jobs until the governor finds a new director. Elliman said Ritter concluded there needed to be “more assets” at the management level overseeing state government.

“What I’m going to be doing in conjunction with Jim Carpenter is providing a little more bandwidth for that management,” he said.”There’s plenty for two of us to do.”

The problem with that last part of the story is that it plays right into the hands of Ritter’s opponents. One of the main attacks, if not the main attack on Ritter will be that he is a “do-nothing Governor” who is in over his head. We’re not saying that this is fair or not, but it’s going to come, and it only helps boost those attacks when your own office publicly admits that it needs more help in top management.


11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. johnpauljones says:

    Governor keeps getting caught in process stories.   The problem is Ritter.  Compare Governor Romer and Governor Ritter with same Chief of Staff.

    Carpenter was very good with Governor Roy Romer, a strong personality.  Romer told everyone where the state was headed, decided, acted as the chief cheerleader and Carpenter implemented while making sure Romer looked good.  

    Carpenter struggles mightily with Judge Ritter, who acts more like a judge.  Ritter waits until the issue comes to a head (like a lawsuit, a veto, …), hears both sides, and renders judgment.  

    I am sure Carpenter is as surprised as the rest of us by some decisions.  It is hard to be the administrator when the first reaction is “where did that come from?”  

    It would suck working for a weak leading Governor.  I feel sorry for Carpenter.  


    • IOnCO says:

      I like it, not sure I agree but certainly an interesting take.

      • johnpauljones says:

        Didn’t Ritter’s answer on the death penalty sound like a judge up for the US Supreme Court.  “I can not tell you where I stand on the Death Penalty as this issue might come before me in the form of legislation.  I will need to have both side come in, make their arguments and then I will decide”.  

        It would be great fun to be a Clerk for Judge Ritter, but not so much as the Govs Chief of Staff.

    • smellykat says:

      I thought he was press secretary for Romer?  

  2. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    between a Chief of Staff and a COO? It seems like they’re defined identically.

    And if they are splitting the job – will Ritter make the split clear?

  3. smellykat says:

    Having another person who is actually empowered and who is trusted to make decisions, should speed things up.  When the funnel gets too narrow, things slow down.  however, it could be that they will be competitive with one another.  We shall see.  Frankly, this change seems like it might be an improvement.

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