Saying Thank You to a Colleague and Friend

This week, the product safety community says “Good Bye” to Ann Marie Buerkle, who is leaving the CPSC Commissioner’s seat after seven years of service.  These good-byes should also be accompanied by an equally loud “Thank You!” for the efforts she made to steadily steering the agency during the past several years.

I had the honor of serving with Commissioner Buerkle and grew both to respect her as a colleague and to count her as a friend.  Commissioner Buerkle brought both substantive and political experience to the agency.  But most importantly, she brought a level of mature judgement and a well-honed sense of fairness that informed the decisions she was called on to make.

She has often said that she is more interested in the process than the outcome. If the process allowed all points of view to be actually and fairly considered and was scientifically and technically rigorous, then the outcome could be justified and defended.  Her votes on various issues before the Commission reflect this philosophy.  As just one example, she refused to support certain penalty actions (for which she was unfairly criticized in some quarters) because those penalties were based on nothing more than a “bigger is better” philosophy rather than a coherent penalty policy.

I certainly did not agree with every position Commission Buerkle took but appreciated that she was always willing to meet, to listen, and to consider and even reconsider her positions based on the evidence. The Commission is now entering a time when the commissioners will have to either find common ground or accomplish little. I suspect that Commissioner Buerkle will be greatly missed and quite soon.

 

 

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