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Is DSHS secretary Quigley a force for ‘disruptive’ change at state’s largest agency? Senate to confirm him on March 18

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on March 8, 2013 at 11:38 am with No Comments »
March 8, 2013 11:38 am
Kevin Quigley
Kevin Quigley

The appointment of  Democrat Kevin Quigley as the new state Department of Social and Health Services secretary is scheduled to be confirmed March 18 in the state Senate, where he served nearly two decades ago and had a hand in health-care policy.

Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times has done a thorough profile of Quigley, the state senator-turned-corporate lawyer and later president of an Everett shipyard who now takes the helm of the largest state agency with about 17,755 employees, which often finds itself in the news when things go wrong – which might be inevitable given the agency’s difficult duties.

A link to the story is  here, in  which Brunner notes that Quigley:

already targeted a backlog of child-abuse complaints assigned to Child Protective Services (CPS). He got the governor to OK hiring 50 additional staffers at a cost of $10 million, by bringing on temporary workers in the short term while training permanent caseworkers in the long term.

Quigley also said he has ordered new training for managers so they can better hold poor-performing employees accountable.

Gov. Jay Inslee has promised to bring “disruptive” change to state government and the story outlines how  Quigley might prove different. The secretary told the Times he is in the job because he wants to help people and not because he needs a paycheck:

Quigley, 52, is arguably the most out-of-the-box Cabinet pick Inslee has named to his nascent administration, which has been largely filled with government veterans and political advisers.

Since taking the job, Quigley has been making a long commute. He rises at 4 a.m. each weekday to drive his red Prius from his Lake Stevens home to DSHS headquarters in Olympia, typically not returning home until about 8 p.m.

Wealthy thanks to his private-sector jobs and investments, Quigley said he doesn’t need to work to earn a living. He pursued DSHS because “it’s likely to be the biggest opportunity that I have in my life to help people.”

An avid mountain climber — described by one friend as “fearless” — Quigley has scaled Mount Rainier more than two dozen times, as well as peaks in South America and Africa. Those treks may prove easy compared with wrestling substantial changes out of DSHS.

It might be old history, but Quigley’s last turn in state government as a member of the  Senate was not spotless. He was known for being smart and was expert on healthcare issues. But he also was reprimanded by the Legislative Ethics Board in 1995 for unethical behavior related to a letter he sent his law firm, offering to help partners and their clients in a way that suggested “special privileges were being offered.”


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