The dust has barely settled on Scott Walkers nearly 12% salary increase for his previous personal security officer (now Capitol Police Chief Dave Erwin) and his deputy by transferring them to ghost jobs in order to skirt state law. Revelations of the salary shenanigans came out late on a Friday and were included in an update to a diary already written on a different Walker Crony Payola Scheme.
That's right, while most state employees have been without a pay increase for a few years in order to keep their negotiated benefits (now Walker and his band of Not So Merry Men are taking 18% of it back to pay for those benefits), he's ensured that his buddies rake in the dough. He can't do it legally so he transferred them to "ghost jobs" while the salaries on their old jobs get pumped up while they're vacant.
Well, he's done it 3 more times.
Gov. Scott Walker's administration used phantom job transfers this year to give double-digit pay raises to two employees and a smaller raise to a third, quickly switching them from one post to as many as three others and then back to their original jobs.Hahahaha! Doncha just love the part where Milwaukee Pravda uses the term "expose flaws in job statistics"? What this guy really did was to create a much more favorable jobs report than the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that has been used for decades because the BLS report kept showing Walkers dismal jobs numbers. And dismal numbers wasn't what Walker wanted just before the recall election.
The biggest pay increase — $14,416 a year — went to a longtime state economist who helped expose flaws in jobs statistics that were hurting the governor's recall election chances, a Journal Sentinel review has found.
Well, now that guy has been rewarded and not just with a big salary boost, but he's also been moved from being a political appointee to a Civil Service position.
Department of Revenue chief economist John Koskinen was transferred through three different high-level jobs at the state Department of Administration and then back to his original post, picking up bumps in his pay as he ping-ponged among them. Along the way, the longtime state employee shed his status as a political appointee and strengthened his civil-service job protections.(bolding is mine)
Like the police officials, Koskinen was never expected to do any work at his shadow jobs, and those scheduling the transfers considered doing all the job changes in a single day, according to documents released to the newspaper under a request made through the open records law.
In total, Koskinen received a 14.4% salary boost when he left the ghost jobs and returned to his regular job. He now makes 26% more than another chief economist who works for another state agency.
Embedding political appointees in Civil Service positions was massively done by George W. Bush during his presidency to ensure that party loyalists would survive the end of his administration.
Another receiver of largess is Paula Veltum, who supervises state buildings, including the Governors Mansion.
Records show that on May 19, officials moved Veltum from being an administrative manager to a phantom slot as an "architect/engineer manager," a transfer that pushed her annual salary to $80,213.A sweet 23% pay bump. Nice. Even bigger than the increase that Erwin got via ghost job transfers.
Two weeks later, Veltum returned to her previous job, receiving a $1,220 per year pay hike as a result of the transfer. She also received a $1,000 lump-sum bonus on the same day, a Journal Sentinel database shows.
The third one didn't get the largess of the others, a measly 5% bump, which is better than state employees who got a stingy 1% increase (a lot of that will get sucked back in benefits costs) from Walker.
Laura Ellingson, a DOA civil servant who oversee the workers' compensation program for state workers, received a 5% raise to $84,501 as part of a shadow jobs transfer over two weeks, the records released to the Journal Sentinel show.
Milwaukee Pravda, of course, uses the typical "both sides do it" malarkey, to ease the Republican pain on these additional revelations (pretty shocking to see them actually covering this). While previous Democratic Governor Doyle did move some folks into Civil Service positions, he never used ghost jobs to provide huge salary increases, or other shenanigans to reward friends and punish enemies (Walker is the expert on that).
Reaction is coming in.
Jay Heck, executive director at the group Common Cause in Wisconsin, said the Walker administration shouldn't flout the state's pay rules to give some workers pay increases with acrobatic job transfers. If the raises are needed, the administration should change the system to make it both easier and more transparent to taxpayers, he said.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said that the Walker administration should be more transparent about such salary increases, since Republicans are often quick to criticize salary increases for other public employees.Republicans in Wisconsin hate the idea of transparency, violated Open Meetings Laws to ram Act 10 (union busting) through, redistricted secretly off-site with a Republican law firm to prevent any input by anyone other than Republicans who swore an oath to keep the information secret, and now got caught rewarding loyalists with cushy pay bumps.
"They should have to justify it. ...They have to be mindful of appearances," Barca said.
And if you think that's bad, Scott Walker is the first Governor in our history to keep his official schedule secret! Of course, it would be very bad politically for citizens in Wisconsin to know how little time he's actually spending in the state conducting state business.
With the election looming, Walker is proposing a property tax cut of $100 million bucks (how nice of him...not). He's loving to cite the $100 million figure, but not so happy when folks point out that it will amount to about $13 per year on a typical home. He gets to campaign on I CUT YOUR TAXES!