Poor procedures waste tax dollars

By Ned Cantwell

Here’s the main difference between government employment and private industry, as I see it:

Let’s take a fictional company. We’ll call it Gadgets Inc. No, that’s boring. Let’s call it gadget.com.

We’ll locate it in Deming because Deming needs some economic stimulation, its Duck Race not withstanding.

So gadget.com is doing pretty good there in Deming, its 14 employees basically answering the telephone and taking orders for gadgets. Then one day one of those employees, Terri Tardy, calls a friend on the job and says she is running about two hours late. She asks Nancy Nottooswift to punch her in.

Allegedly, Terri made that call. Allegedly, Nancy punched her in. We don’t know but we want to get these two women out of the plant while we investigate the alleged shenanigans.

So we place them on “administrative leave.” With pay.
Now we have two of our 14 employees sitting at home, painting their nails, saying “aw shucks, they’re making us stay home with pay.” How long do you think it will take the management of gadget.com to deal with this situation? How long will it take to either get Miss Tardy and Miss Nottooswift back on the job or fire them? Two days maybe?
Deming’s gadget.com simply cannot afford to stay in business for any length of time if it pays employees who do not work. That is because gadget.com is not subsidized by taxpayers.

We now focus our gaze on the New Mexico State Police Department. Officers Paul Sanchez, Edward Cortez and Stephen Montoya allegedly did something against the rules. So they were put on administrative leave. With pay. About two years ago.

Two years ago? If this does not outrage you as a taxpayer, you are either in a vegetative state or are smoking something that causes you to walk around with a goofy grin. And I’m not talking Winstons.

It is an absolute scandal there are three officers cooling their heels off the job, getting full pay, while the state’s Public Safety Advisory Commission tries to figure out how to handle such cases. It is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So ridiculous has this become the three officers are — get this — tired of not working but still getting paid. They have asked the state district court to tell the bosses to quit screwing around and deal with their situations.

The nonsense rests with a flawed personnel manual. Back in September, 2003, the Public Safety Advisory Commission discovered its personnel instructions did not have rules on how to handle discipline cases.

That was September in 2003. It’s now April in 2005.

It took more than a year to write the rules and have them adopted, and still taxpayers are picking up the check for non-working employees. What goes?

When they last met, lawmakers were said to be most upset with the Public Safety Advisory Commission. There is no indication they did anything about it. They should.

Deming, I am sure, is grateful that I have given it a new company. In future columns I will place fictional companies in other communities, but your industrial development people are going to have to wine and dine me, promise me tax breaks, and give me a good deal on a building.

Ned Cantwell is a syndicated columnist. He welcomes feedback at:
ncantwell@charter.net