Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Walker Exceeded His Authority." Again.

The arbitrator that decided AFSCME's grievance against Scott Walker and his plan to put almost 2,000 county workers on an indefinite furlough issued his written decision on Wednesday.

Frankly, it was better than I had hoped it could be.

The arbitrator ruled that Walker took a number of missteps in issuing this edict.

The biggest issue is that Walker again exceeded his authority:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker exceeded his authority in attempting to unilaterally cut union employees' hours as a budget-cutting move, according to an arbitrator's ruling issued Wednesday.

The County Board would have to agree to such a move first, the arbitrator, Amedeo Greco, said in his decision.

This is not the first time Walker has overstepped his authority. Just last month, he had to backtrack on closing the County's only two indoor pools and creating a new tax on toddlers, when he admitted he did not have the authority to do those things.

This disregard of the law has been a pattern for Walker. Every budget season, he keeps trying to remove state mandated positions and/or programs.

Why his repeated abuses of power hasn't been sent to the DA's office for investigation is beyond me. Especially when one considers that he is pulling these stunts to just try to gain the support of the fringe conservatives.

But back to the ruling.

The arbitrator also found other flaws with Walker's actions. These include the fact that Walker had failed to show that the County's projected deficit was severe enough to warrant such drastic actions. In fact, it was in the testimony that Walker's chief number cruncher, Steve Kreklow, admitted that the deficit was only one third the number of what Walker has been reporting. And even the new lower number of $4.5 million is almost seven times the number that the award-winning County Auditor found it to be.

Another error that Walker made was that he left the furlough open-ended which was contradictory to a previous arbitration hearing.

But even though it was ruled that Walker did everything wrong, Walker is still refusing to accept the truth of the matter:

Walker disagreed with the arbitrator's decision and said it conflicted with the reasoning behind a judge's ruling on the subject last week, when Reserve Judge Dennis Flynn said the county executive had the right to order furloughs without the board's consent. Walker said he would study the issue with county lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the arbitrator's decision.

Walker said another option could be to try to persuade the board to go along with shortened workweeks for 45 days, the length of time Greco suggested would pass muster.

The third option remains layoffs, though Walker said he was unsure how many might be needed.

What Walker isn't admitting to is that the hearing that was in front of Judge Flynn was completely separate from the issues presented int he grievance. Furthermore, Walker must have elided over the part that said he failed to show the County in a fiscal crisis that would warrant excessive furloughs, much less layoffs.

I've said it before, and I will keep saying it because it is the simple truth. If Walker was serious about wanting to fix any deficit, real or imaginary, he would first sit down with the union and do some good faith bargaining on the new contract. But while he dinks around and keeps stalling, he is costing tax payers millions of dollars.

That is perhaps what he wants though. If he keeps stalling, then that would give him the wiggle room to call for the lay off of hundreds of workers. What he fails to recognize, or perhaps just doesn't care, is that such a mass layoff will raise the pique of most of the citizens of Milwaukee County who suddenly find themselves without services. Then he might have much more to worry about than trying to keep up with Mark Neumann.

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