I’m not quite sure what to think of this young fellow named Josh Gallion, North Dakota’s elected state auditor. But two newspaper articles about him in the last couple of days got me to chuckling a little bit.
The first was Mike Jacobs’ column in Tuesday’s Grand Forks Herald about the recent history of the state auditor’s office. Gallion’s election in 2016 ended 60 years of Norwegian “rule” in the auditor’s office. Gallion is the first North Dakota state auditor not named Olson or Peterson since 1956. Curtis Olson, elected in 1956, served 16 years, and two Robert Petersons, father and son, served a total of 44 years from 1972 until 2016.
I’m not sure of Gallion’s family background, but the name Gallion doesn’t sound Norwegian to me. He can correct me if I am wrong.
Everything else being equal, like many North Dakotans, I tend to vote for the Norwegian candidate.
The really good chuckle came from this morning’s story in the Bismarck Tribune by Jack Dura about Gallion’s audit of the North Dakota Information Technology Department. In it, Dura reported that Gallion’s office reported that an audit of the IT Department revealed “two dozen undocumented electronic devices.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, “undocumented,” until I read the next paragraph, which said that 24 state computers, worth about $92,000 were, in Gallion’s words, “unlocated.”
Not “lost.” Just “unlocated.”
Huh. Where do you suppose they are? Well, Jack, being a good reporter, wanted to know, because it is possible those missing government computers contained ‘sensitive information,” such as Social Security numbers.
So Jack sent an e-mail to the IT Department’s director, Shawn Riley, asking if he knows where those “undocumented devices” are. Are they missing? Riley wrote back, describing the questioned inventory as “unfound assets.”
Not “lost.” Just “unfound.”
Well, I have to tell you, my faith in North Dakota’s educational system has been restored. Here’s an accountant and a computer geek, both with a mastery of the English language.
Those two words just warm the heart of this old English major. Although I’ve got to say I’ve never used either of them in a sentence before. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even seen them before.
They both show up in current editions of dictionaries and thesauri (that’s plural for thesaurus — I looked it up) though. My favorite thesaurus entry for “Unlocated” was “Somewhere.”
Gallion, as you know, is under fire from the Legislature for occasionally digging a little too deep into state agencies, under fire to the point the Legislature passed a law requiring him to get their approval before doing any more performance audits, a bill that has set up a showdown between the legislative and executive branches of North Dakota government, a showdown that may need to be settled by the third branch, the judiciary, or by North Dakota voters themselves, since the bill is the subject of a potential referral.
If you want another chuckle, I’ll tell a story on myself. After reading stories about Gallion’s audits, particularly one about Gov. Doug Burgum’s possible abuse of his state airplane privileges, and watching the Legislature going after Gallion because of that, I sent an e-mail to a couple of Democratic-NPL legislative friends of mine last spring, suggesting, naively, that since this guy seems to be a rebel in the Republican ranks, maybe they should be recruiting him to switch parties and join them as Democrats. He seems to like grandstanding, I suggested, and the ultimate grandstand is to switch parties.
Well, I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t really know anything about this guy, so I didn’t realize how goofy my suggestion was. They both sent me back nice, polite letters explaining that he was a REALLY conservative fellow, way too conservative for most other elected members of his party, and that’s why the Legislature was going after him. Or, as Jacobs hinted in his column Tuesday, some grudges were being settled.
In either case, he’s not a potential Democrat, my legislative friends pointed out to me. Chastened, I wrote back to them, “Never mind.”
Meanwhile, as for the “undocumented,” “unlocated,” and “unfound” computers, well, I hope they show up. “Somewhere.”