Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rewarding who kiss ass and hurting who does legit work- Fitzwalkerstan 2012!

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Oshkosh Northwestern last Thursday. It is relayed here for you to enjoy.
An Open Letter to Governor Walker,

I have received your letter requesting funds for your recall election effort. Sadly, I am an employee of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. About a year or so ago my wages were cut due to increases in my health insurance premium. Since becoming an employee of the UW System in 1999, five percent of my pay has been withheld and automatically applied to the WRS fund for my retirement. However, around the same time as my insurance premiums nearly tripled, an additional five percent of my pay was taken from me and applied to the WRS fund. Mind you, my pay was not increased to replace what had previously been negotiated out of state employee paychecks and I now find myself taking home less in 2012 than I did in 2007.

With the prices of gas, milk, cereal and other things continually increasing, but my take-home pay continually decreasing, I simply do not have any money to contribute to your campaign coffers. However, I did notice that according to the 2011-2013 Compensation Plan, the Office of Governor received a pay increase. Please consider the portion of my state income tax that was applied to your pay increase as my contribution to your re-election effort.

Daniel M. Hoyt

But the Guv's Office isn't the only highly-connected, taxpayer-funded gig getting a raise. Looks like over 200 others will get "merit raises" of over $765,000. And one certain group seems to have gotten the bulk of the raises.
The state Department of Justice, which couldn't find enough money to fully fund services for sexual assault victims last year, was the biggest spender, giving out nearly $300,000 to 94 workers.

Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar, who defended Walker's collective bargaining law in an open meetings challenge and has handled the state's defense of Republican redistricting legislation, got a $1,000 bonus and a $1.50-an-hour raise in March, bumping her salary by more than $3,000 to $104,730.

Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John, who defended the collective bargaining law in front of the state Supreme Court, got a $2.51-an-hour raise in March that adds up to more than $5,000 per year and brings his pay to $134,307.

Thirty-seven DNA analysts, meanwhile, got raises worth $158,000.

The Justice Department handed out raises even after it warned budget cuts had forced it to reduce grants from its Sexual Assault Victim Services program by 42.5 percent. Walker later reduced those cuts amid an outcry from service providers.

DOJ Executive Assistant Steve Means defended the awards, saying the money came from not filling positions and the agency can't shift money from salaries to cover other expenses. Raises and bonuses are crucial to retaining star performers like Lazar and St. John, he added.

"If people understood why we're doing what we're doing, I don't think they'd be concerned about it. It's a good use of limited resources," Means said. "If Kevin St. John were to announce today he wanted to go work in private practice, he'd have at least a half-dozen law firms on the phone in 10 minutes offering him twice as much as he makes here."
And by "leaving for the private sector", Means is describing events like Ray Taffora leaving DOJ after Walker's election to take part in a high 6-figure no-bid contract from Michael, Best and Friedrich in exchange for helping the Walker boys to draft Act 10. It seems like the biggest reason Michael Best alum St. John grabbed a bonus was for deciding to represent the Republican party and Guv's office in the Act 10 suit brought before the Supreme Court. Oh, and I'm sure he and fellow DOJ appointees turning down requests for help on the Walker-related John Doe case didn't hurt his cause either.

At least we now know what gets you paid as a state employee in Walker World - kissing the right ass and saying the right lines. Guys like Daniel Hoyt showing up for work every day? That's such a quaint and old-fashioned way, and it sure isn't going to help you move up the salary ladder.

As I said over a year ago, this is the predictable outcome of turning 37 positions from the Wisconsin civil service into appointed jobs. It leads to rampant cronyism, and rewards for doing what's in the best interests of the Governor and his lackeys. Whether that's the same as being best for the state of Wisconsin is irrelevant (and with this guy, it usually isn't). Despite being paid by the people, it's clear that in Walker World your accountability isn't to the people, but it's to the elected and appointed hacks above you, and the agenda they want to drive.

These conflicts are why civil service and public sector unions were created in the first place- to guarantee independence and ethics in government work and maintain accountability to the real bosses that pay your salary- the taxpayers. And accountability to the people and independence in decision-making is the LAST thing the Walker folks want. Just like Walker's "cousin" George Walker Bush had it in D.C. ("doing a heckuva job, Brownie!") So Daniel Hoyt loses his bargaining rights and loses his take-home pay, while suckups like Kevin St. John and Maria Lazar get bonuses for backing questionable laws that have driven down the standard of living and respect of government for a large amount of Wisconsinites. All in the name of acting more like a profit-driven corporation.

Oh wait, kissing the right ass and doing things with questionable ethics IS what gets you rewarded in the corporate sector. Maybe the Walker folks aren't that far off in their thinking after all. Of course, our corporate sector is an inequality-growing failure that funnels money toward an idle few at the top with screwed-up priorities and makes our economy woefully inefficient. But since that seems to be the goal of this administration to screw up government and the people's trust in an institution that is supposed to stand up for the people that fund it, maybe this is another step closer to "Mission Accomplished"!

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