Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Civil service "reform" = another WisGOP power grab

As Republicans try to fast track this civil service “reform” bill through the State Legislature, let’s take a look at the actual proposal, and put some details behind all the hype.

The headline proposals to remove civil service exams as part of the application for many state jobs and making it much easier to fire employees are concerning enough, and an obvious invitation to arbitrary hackery in the one area where we shouldn’t have any. But let me point at a couple of other measures that underlie what Gov Walker and the WisGOP Legislature are really up to. The first of which is a provision in the proposed bill that centralizes HR functions throughout state government.
By January 1, 2017, the department of administration shall consult with each agency and develop a plan for assuming responsibility for services relating to human resources. By January 1, 2017, the department of administration shall also consult with the board of commissioners of public lands, the educational communications board, the department of financial institutions, the government accountability board, the higher educational aids board, the state historical society, the public service commission, the department of safety and professional services, the state fair park board, and the department of tourism and develop a plan for assuming responsibility for services related to payroll, finance, budgeting, procurement, and information technology for any agency these agencies. The department of administration shall include in the each plan which services would be provided to each agency, which positions would be deleted or transferred, and the number and type of positions and associated funding that would be provided to the department of administration.
In other words, all hiring goes through the DOA (basically an outgrowth of the Governor’s office), and even relatively independent agencies will have their back office duties slid over under the DOA umbrella. That’s a huge consolidation of power, but par for the course with this crew, in keeping with their goal of diminishing (if not outright eliminating) independence in public service.

These two sections also haven’t gotten as much play (yet), but they will likely cause major problems in trying to get qualified candidates to fill positions.
1. This bill changes the standard probationary period for all original and promotional appointments to permanent and seasonal positions in the classified service from six months to two years with a potential waiver after one year. The bill also changes the probationary period for employees in supervisory or management positions from one year with a potential waiver after six months to two years with a potential waiver after one year.

2. This bill limits reinstatement privileges to permanent employees in the classified service who are on layoff status and reduces the eligibility period for reinstatement privileges to three years following the date of the layoff. Under current law, permanent classified service employees who leave the classified service without any delinquency or misconduct have reinstatement privileges for a five−year period from the date the employee leaves the classified service. The bill eliminates reinstatement privileges for permanent classified service employees who leave the classified service without any delinquency or misconduct for reasons other than layoff. This bill also eliminates reinstatement privileges for an employee who leaves the classified service to fill an elective position. Under the bill, the changes to reinstatement privileges do not apply to classified employees who leave the classified service before the effective date of the bill.
So you could work at a job for two years and still get canned for no good reason? In addition, if you leave a job and realize after a few weeks that your new position isn’t working out (or your boss doesn’t like you), you don’t have the ability to go back to your old job, even if it hasn’t been filled? These are deterrents to any worker who’s not a hack without pride, and this spoils system discourages excellence in these positions. Which is kinda the point, now isn’t it?

Provisions like the ones I have named give away the real game with this proposal, along with the fact that the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity immediately sent out a press release approving of the WisGOP “reforms.” If these moves were merely about modernizing the civil service to make it easier to get people through the pipeline for hiring, and making it easier to fire people for egregious behavior, and that’s all the bill would be limited to? Then it would likely have support from a lot of people throughout the state, and a not-significant amount of members from both parties in the Legislature.

But all of this other crap that limits the few rights that state employees have remaining, combined with the consolidation of hiring at DOA? That tells you that this is yet another Walker/WisGOP power-grab intended to squelch any opposing viewpoints that might go against the party line, and to allow for even more right-wing hacks to be the ones controlling the flow of information and decisions in all levels of state government.

Senate Dem leader Jennifer Shilling accurately summed up the WisGOP mentality today, as part of a press event asking that Gov Walker and WisGOP legislators take the expanded Medicaid in Obamacare.
Sen. Jennifer Shilling, the Democratic minority leader, said Republican priorities are misplaced. She cited the Republican push to overhaul the state elections board to make it more partisan, gut the John Doe law so that such secret investigations can't be used against politicians, ban research on aborted fetal tissue and make the nonpartisan state superintendent a partisan appointee of the governor.

"They have this insatiable appetite for power and they're overreaching," Shilling said. "It seems like they don't get it, like they're taking their eye off the ball about what really matters in this state."
Well Sen. Shilling, that’s because WisGOPs only care about taking control of as much as they can and cashing in as much as they can while they are in control. They do not care about economic growth, fiscal stability, quality of life, what Wisconsin institutions they wreck, or the mess they leave behind after they’re booted out of power.

And that is why this civil service “reform” must be opposed vociferously - to prevent another mess that’ll have to be cleaned up after this group of GOPs are long gone. You can start with a (not-so) public hearing that'll be held at the Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 6.


  1. Bear in mind as well the Recall list remains in GOP hands, and Walker has already demonstrated that having signed the Recall Walker is a disqualification for state employment and appointment.


  2. I am more worried about this and perhaps it explains the reason Walker wants to do away with Civil Service tests...the cronies he has in mind to fill these thirteen positions probably couldn't pass them.


    1. Tess- That's definitely along the same lines, to do away with any independent oversight of WisGOP'so activities. And both are straight out of the ALEC handbook

  3. I think it's time for public workers to strike...no messing around with this asshole anymore.

    1. While I think there's a value in major, direct action, I'd argue a strike gives these scumbags what they want, and allows them to play "divide and conquer" again. I'd rather see large demonstrations on Tuesday at the Capitol, and a major outreach action by the unions with a central message of "independent customer service."

      With Walker's approval at 37% and Republicans in general out of favor in Wisconsin (and rightfully so), I don't think this thing is a done deal. And I do think some GOPs that will vote for this seal their removal next Fall, gerrymander or no gerrymander.

      Come strong and come honest, but don't take their bait.

  4. This seems like an opportunity for the GOP to get rid of the rest of DNR scientists and other people who may get in the way. First reduce the number of scientists then replace the rest with people who don't think pollution is a bad thing.

    1. No question that is part of this. And it needs to be repeated by all Dems and anyone else with an ounce of decency.

    2. I had an even more horrible thought.

      Is this a chance for Walkers convicted staffers to get government jobs?

      Russel, Rindfleish...?

      Could Walker and the GOP even think that?