Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tea Party legislators promoting patronage by passing governor’s “personnel reform”

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Tea Party legislators in the House bought into Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to bring back political patronage and cronyism to the state.

All House Democrats opposed HB 2571, a bill the governor passed off as personnel reform, because it gives her the power to hire and fire people based on her political whims. This legislation requires many state agency directors to “serve at the pleasure of the governor.”

“To call HB 2571 ‘personnel reform’ is misleading,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “It doesn’t reform anything. In fact, it opens the doors for political power grabs.”

The new law will remove the protection that the merit system provides for nearly 6,000 state employees. The system prevents employers from hiring people based on political allegiance or favoritism. The merit system also prevents employers from firing state employees without cause. The new law repeals workers’ rights to appeal firing and disciplinary decisions. It will also force state employees currently protected by the merit system to choose between giving up their rights or receiving pay raises.

"We already saw with this year's budget deal that the governor has no problem retaliating against those who disagree with her," Campbell said. "This just empowers her and any governor in the future to use the same type of tactics on hard working state employees across Arizona."

Such examples include:
  • The governor punished Board of Executive Clemency Executive Director Duane Belcher for the tardiness of three of her appointees to a meeting. She fired him abruptly after 20 years of service.
  • The legislature’s impeachment and removal of Independent Redistricting Committee Chairwoman Colleen Mathis at the governor’s urging. The Supreme Court ruled that the governor had no right to interfere with the committee.
  • The appointment of Bryan Martyn as the executive director of Arizona State Parks over 10 other candidates despite having no experience running such a large department. The attorney general is now investigating him for potential campaign finance violations while running for Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
“The governor is more interested in granting political favors than making sure state agencies are run by qualified people,” Campbell said. “Their priorities are so far out of line with what is important to the people of Arizona.”

The bill passed 38-18 and now goes to the governor.


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