Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ehrlich Policy Mimics The Apprentice: You're Fired

The verdict, at long last, is in: Gov. Ehrlich's appointees violated state laws and constitutional rights by firing over 300 civil servants for political reasons.

The Special Committee on State Employee Rights and Protections came to its conclusion one year after it began interviewing state workers who claimed they were fired because they are Democrats, grilling Ehrlich administration officials tasked with cleaning house and reviewing documents and other evidence.

The legislative inquiry found what many had long suspected: that high-ranking officials within the administration sent out hit men, like the disgraced Joseph "Prince of Darkness" Steffen, to identify civil servants linked with the Democratic Party. Although most of these workers were low-level bureaucrats in non-political positions, they were replaced with Republicans considered more loyal to the administration.

The special committee's report goes beyond these findings of fact. It also asserts that the actions violated workers' rights and some constitutional protections.

Unfortunately, the release of this important report was clouded with politics. The Democrats who ran it should be faulted for the blatant political objectives of releasing it less than a month before the gubernatorial elections. Republicans should be ashamed for dismissing serious accusations as “unnecessary, expensive and fruitless."

Legislators should look beyond the politics and adopt the ten recommendations offered to prevent something similar from ever happening again, no matter which party runs the statehouse. Most of the recommendations would prevent employees from being fired for reasons other than merit. The recommendations should be seriously considered as possible legislation because the current system is broken. The state's personnel laws are designed to allow the Second Floor of the Statehouse to dish out employment as political payback. Such a system encourages corruption and allows our state to be run by those with connections, not with merit.

from The League: Reassembled

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