In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Early Out-Risky Stuff
One of the confounding elements of politics is that often times the practitioners don't learn from the mistakes of the past. And at first blush it looked like the current governor was poised to repeat the grievous blunder of previous Gov. John Engler when he willy-nilly offered seasoned state government workers a chance to leave government early. He dangled a fatter retirement check in front of thousands of state workers and they jumped at it faster than you can see, "Let's move to Florida." It was the typical meat axe approach of Mr. Engler who was more interested in reducing the size of government no matter what. But it did matter and the "what" concerned the safety of little children. What Mr. Engler either did not consider or refused to factor in, was the brain and experience drain the early out program created in an instant. Weary civil servants dashed for the door, leaving less experience folks to mind the shop while even less experienced replacements were filtered into the system. In the Human Service Department alone, seasoned Child Protective Service workers, who investigate child abuse in families and foster homes, were gone leaving the kids at risk and one of them even died as you'll recall he little Ricky Holland tragedy. He was murdered by his foster mom and dad, stuffed in a garbage bag and buried in a shallow grave miles away from his home. Fast forward to Gov. Jennifer Granholm who is eager to coax 7,000 state workers with 30 years of experience or more to leave now, too. "I'm very worried about that," confesses Sen. Gretchen Whitmer who has thousands of civil servants in her East Lansing district. "Some folks may fall through the cracks," she warned. When the governor announced this new retirement incentive program nothing was said about addressing the "Engler" problem noted above. But come to find out, this governor did learn from those mistakes and has safeguards in her program to prevent that from happening again. She exchanges a meat axe for a scalpel. Good thing. The mother of three kids does not want another tragedy on her watch as she leaves office at the end of the year.