Part of the satisfaction of working in government is the quality and dedication of your colleagues. And, for a commissioner, that satisfaction is multiplied by having exceptional personal staff who can provide the necessary interface with the agency career experts. I served as a CPSC commissioner for over eight years. For five of those years, Joe Martyak served as my legal counsel, as chief of staff when I was acting chairman and also, for a time, as acting director of public affairs. He did all these jobs with extraordinary competence and good grace. After I left the commission, he continued to serve as an advisor to Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle. Joe has now announced that he will be leaving the CPSC, heading off to new adventures in Hawaii. On his desk he had a sign that read: “Just your average Joe.” I beg to differ; Joe is anything but average.
While Joe will be greatly missed, Commissioner Buerkle has really scored a coup by enticing CPSC veteran Gib Mullan back to the agency. Gib served as general counsel, director of compliance and was detailed to Customs when the agency was setting up its Import Surveillance Division—in other words, he has seen it all. When he was at the agency, he was known for his deep intellect, his creativity in solving problems and his honesty—he understood the need to speak the truth even when those in power did not necessarily want to hear it. While no one can “replace” Joe, kudos to Commissioner Buerkle for bringing on such an asset as Gib Mullan.