One would think the whole concept of the union-backed “correctional officers’ bill of rights” might have been thrown into disrepute by last year’s Maryland scandal, in which the statute was found to have entrenched problem guards even as the Baltimore jail descended into a scandalous state of gang-run corruption. But apparently not: the Pennsylvania House has unanimously (!) voted in favor of having that state adopt its own such “bill of rights,” weakening administrators’ power to investigate possible officer misconduct. Details of H.B. 976 here.
Reuters on the phenomenon of police harassment of local political opponents (earlier here, here, etc.) By no means are the reports limited to California:
There also have been allegations of intimidation by police in Cranston, Rhode Island.
On Jan. 9, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced that state police will take over an investigation into a flurry of parking tickets issued in the wards of two council members. The pair claim the tickets were issued as retribution after they voted against a new contract for police that would have given them a pay raise….
Major Robert Ryan, a spokesman for the Cranston Police Department, said: “The matter is under investigation, and pursuant to law enforcement’s bill of rights, no-one is going to comment on this.”
As readers may recall, those high-sounding “law enforcement bill of rights” gimmicks serve mostly to entrench law enforcement personnel against consequences or accountability for misbehavior, and thus have less than nothing to do with the Constitution’s actual Bill of Rights. More: Radley Balko.
An arbitrator overseeing negotiations between New York City and unions is also a fund-raiser for incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio [Capital New York]
The phrase “evoked the ‘military-industrial complex’ about which President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned the nation in a speech days before he left office in 1961.” [Times-Union]
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an Illinois prison official “with a lengthy criminal history” has returned to the state payroll despite a record of “lewd and inappropriate emails” on the taxpayers’ dime and falsifying an earlier job application [Chicago Sun-Times]:
…Still, Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration struck a settlement with McCraven and his union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees….
In June, [after withdrawing a lawsuit] he then dropped a union grievance and accepted a 10-day suspension, got six months of back pay and was transferred to the job he now holds as senior adviser to the chief of parole with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Asked to explain why McCraven was allowed to stay on the state payroll, the Quinn administration cited the potential financial costs of losing a grievance case. …
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that McCraven is working for the state prison system despite being arrested “at least” 24 times on charges including arson, illegal gun possession, attempted robbery, drug possession and aggravated assault.
“Even though they received back-pay, they are now suing the government….Their attorney said that late payment violates the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act and they’re now owed damages – adding up to hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars per worker.” [Mike Conneen, WJLA]
We are supposed to be reassured that this kind of abuse is rare because only about one NSA employee a year gets disciplined over it. But is there good reason to think all the instances of this abuse get caught and result in employee discipline? [WSJ, Bloomberg]
Last month 13 guards and 12 others were indicted on charges of letting a gang effectively take over management of the Baltimore City Detention Center; according to the indictment, corrupt guards allegedly smuggled in drugs, cellphones and other contraband and had sex with the gang leader, several becoming pregnant by him. Since then the public and press has been asking what went wrong. A Washington Post editorial suggests one place they might look:
The absurd situation described in the indictment took root at least partly because of a “bill of rights” for corrections officers, backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and enacted by the Maryland legislature in 2010 at the behest of the guards union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This bill of rights grants extraordinary protections to guards, including shielding them from threats of prosecution, transfer, dismissal or even disciplinary action during questioning for suspected wrongdoing.
While Gov. O’Malley has sought to minimize the relevance of the 2010 law, the Post notes that FBI recordings suggest that a guard who was deemed “dirty” was transferred to another facility, rather than fired — transfers-instead-of-firing being a less than optimal way of dealing with public employee corruption, but one typical of systems with strong tenure entrenchment. AFSCME, which boasted at the time of its “relentless lobbying” on behalf of the law, is now doing damage control. More: “those protections left officers at the jail without fear of sanctions for allegedly smuggling contraband or having relationships with inmates, the FBI said in an affidavit.” [Baltimore Sun] Union-allied lawmakers defend the measure [AP]
For a second time, labor unions and their allies have failed to unseat a member of the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which badly undercuts their chances of getting the court to invalidate Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. I’ve got details at Cato at Liberty.
Then what do you think he does? “Carroll then started a business that cleans up gory crime scenes, a New Jersey Watchdog investigation found. Yet the state continues to pay him a disability pension for life, a sum that could total $1 million or more.” [Morris County, N.J.; Mark Lagerkvist, Reason]
Broward County, Fla. transit bus driver Larry Moore “was disciplined 19 times” and “was held responsible for nine accidents with other South Florida drivers.” After a so-called last-chance warning in 2008 he “went on to be disciplined seven more times, for five preventable accidents and two clashes with customers, county personnel records show.”
The Sun Sentinel reported earlier this month that one driver, Charles Butler, who cost taxpayers $73,005 in a lawsuit settlement, was involved in 21 accidents while driving a county bus. Twelve were deemed preventable, and 10 involved him hitting another driver. He is still driving, despite having reached the firing threshold. …
[Transit director Tim] Garling said the county follows the union contract, which calls for progressive levels of discipline.
[Sun-Sentinel, newspaper's earlier coverage of Butler case here and here]