Monday, September 10, 2012

Treasurer's resignation: 3 RBI's or a triple play?

It ain't over 'til it's over. - Yogi Berra

Waco – Did the retired DPS trooper drive in a triple, or hit into a three-bag killing? Only time will tell, but it's one of those history-making events that signal vast rearrangements of power relations to come.

News of McLennan County Treasurer Danny Volcik's resignation raced through the courts and offices, county barns and jails like the roar of a crowd thrilled by the crack of the bat when a hitter poles a line drive during a late inning.

Along with Mr. Volcik's resignation, the Commissioners Court is taking up the employment status of Budget Director Adam Harry in its Executive Session for personnel matters.

It's the kind of game-changing excitement that makes people sit up and take notice after the Seventh Inning Stretch, makes them stay until it's over instead of getting in the car and beating the traffic out of the ball park, making their getaway before the rush.

There are two streams of controversy coursing through the dialogue. First, there is the question of when and how much employees get paid.

The Court first spent a fortune to revamp its payroll system to a 26-week schedule in which overtime, sick time, holiday and vacation pay can first be audited, then paid. The old system, which is based on a 28-week schedule, allows the Treasurer's office to first pay the amount claimed on the time card, then audit the results.

But employees rose up and protested the new system. They claimed they wouldn't be paid as much, though the truth is, they would be paid the same amount on a yearly basis as their base pay.

In earlier dust-ups, the Court has relented and agreed to pay compensatory time claims, even when an employee and supervisor had previously attested to a pay period of straight time, no overtime worked.(click here. 

The Court elected to go their route and ordered a software systems company to attempt to modify the new system, to make it work according to the old schedule.

The software engineers said they weren't sure it would work.

The nasty rumor is that it won't work, after all, and the payroll for the first pay period in October will not be done on time, or that it won't be accurate – or something. 

Lots of talk these days about a financial crisis coming in October.

Mr. Volcik was elected to his office on a 60/40 Republican over Democrat split in 2010, replacing Democrat Bill Helton, a 20-plus year veteran of the Treasurer's office.

Mr. Helton's only sin: He's a Democrat.

County employees, Democrats, and the public raised holy terror over Danny Volcik taking office, saying that with no practical experience - Mr. Volcik is a retired DPS Trooper - the system would go to wrack and ruin. 

Mr. Volcik responded on the air by saying he got his support by visiting public political forums and asking people to vote for him – the old fashioned way.

He asked for the vote, in person.

And then his first assistant resigned last week. He is to be replaced by a Juvenile Probation officer, the hiring of whom caused an uproar on the Court that was settled when County Judge Jim Lewis admonished one member by saying, “He can hire whoever he wants.”

When County Auditor Stan Chambers replaced Steve Moore, he was hired by the District Judges, as prescribed by the Texas Constitution.

There is a remedy for that if a county seeks and gets special legislation and perfects a Constitutional Amendment approved by the voters.

TEA Party activists and liberals alike have voiced disapproval for the system of budgeting various amounts, then seeking amendments and budget transfers from such vague accouts as “Contingencies” to cover shortfalls. In one case, $371,000 was transferred in part from the retirement funds to cover outside care of inmates by a private corporation that operates the Jack Harwell Detention Center and the downtown jail.

His job is on the line in the morning when the Court discussed in Executive Session how to handle Brother Harry's future role.

The Budget Director is selected and supervised by the Commissioners Court; the County Auditor is selected and supervised by the District Judges.

And then there's County Tax Assessor - Collector Buddy Skeen's non-jury trial before a District Judge, which is scheduled to take place next week.

It was one of the first discrepancies County Auditor Stan Chambers caught when he moved into his office.

Stay tuned. It's either the bottom of the 8th, or the top of the 9th.

The score? Who knows?

Hits, runs, errors? Too early to tell; too close to call.

- The Legendary

No comments:

Post a Comment