Last month, our new Secretary of State, Mac Warner, fired 16 employees who had worked for the state for many years and since then has added 22 new people. Today, Phil Kabler on the front page of the Charleston Gazette reports that a wrongful termination suit has now been filed against Warner:
"You know what it looks like on the surface," Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, told Warner, who fired about one-third of the office's staff - including many non-management employees who had anywhere from eight to 50 years of service.
Warner subsequently replaced them with 22 new hires, including new positions of regional field service representatives for seven regions around the state.
Because of the pending litigation, Warner said he could not discuss specifics of the firings, but commented, "Some of these people were leaving anyway."
What about the budget deficit?
As for the necessity of creating field service representatives in the midst of a $500 million state budget crisis, Warner said, "It's an outreach to first mend the relationships with many of the county clerks."
Warner did not elaborate.
(How does this address the budget deficit?)
Warner told senators Monday that the additional hires did not increase the overall personnel budget for the office.
"We're working within the existing budget," he said.
(Interesting. If my math is correct, the new workers would have their pay and benefits reduced by at least 27% in order for the budget to stay the same.)
Since taking office, Mac Warner appears to have become a local "newspaper" favorite. (See here, for instance.) Perhaps for that reason, there's been no coverage of any of this by the locals. Instead they've complained in their editorials and columns about other departments in the state's bureaucracy which added employees or are still bloated (as they see it) in the face of a huge budget deficit. I think that we may see some mention of this if the AP gets around to covering the story -- most likely in an editorial explaining how the Secretary's actions were correct and how he is actually saving us money.