Sunday, June 17, 2007

Collateral Damage

The above cartoon is part of why I have had such an edge of late. While next to none of the blame for our current overtime rests with so-called rank and file legislators, the sideshow act that passes for budget negotiations tarnishes every man and woman in the House and Senate.

The majority of my colleagues are hard-working, earnest people who want to do good things for the people whom they represent. Yet the inability of a few understandably leads to public frustration with state government in general.

And I mean in general, not just legislators. I unfortunately believe that increasing cynicism with how our state has been operating, under both Democratic and Republican leadership, has caused the general public to develop a cynical perception of all state employees.

And while it might be understandable, it's far from accurate, and it's not fair to the thousands of state employees that keep our state functioning 24/7/365.

If anything, many state employees are bigger victims of this gridlock than are the general public. They oftentimes find their ability to perform (or keep) their jobs resting on political maneuvering rather than best practices. It is a wonder to me that some of the best and brightest that we have working in state government don't just pack it up and head for the private sector.

I'm not saying that there isn't dead weight in state government, you can find it anywhere. But the majority of state employees with whom I have dealt are simply trying to do a good job in an environment that can often be dysfunctional. I hope that the public can separate the proverbial baby from the bath water.


At June 17, 2007 at 10:13 AM, Anonymous Just doing my job said...

It's about time somebody said that. Thank you Rep. Fritchey

At June 17, 2007 at 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is not with state employees themselves, who, as a group, are no better or worse than any other group of people. Some work hard, some don't. Some got their jobs through patronage, some through civil service. Some are competent, some are not.

The problem is that the civil service is not competitive with the private sector with respect to the actual work that state employees are doing. And those covered by union contract or civil service (nearly all but a few top
aides) get compensation packages (almost-free health insurance, defined benefit pension, transportation freebies, lifetime job security) which make them, in many cases, far more expensive to employ than would be the case in the private sector. And, of course, it is almost impossible to fire them. There is a reason, by the way, that they aren't leaving.
They can't do better compensation-wise and job-for=life-wise anywhere else.

In a globalized economy, we can't afford to fund a state employee welfare service plus pay for our own pensions and health care, most of us not having the benefit of such perks.

And government employees need to be far more accountable than they are now. I believe most of them are rarely even evaluated. And they get raises whether they perform or not.

The taxpayers deserve the best deal because ultimately we pay.
In some cases the best deal may be government-provided service. In others, the private sector could do it better and more cheaply.

Again, state employment should not be a mini-welfare state. And it is unconscionable that there are 1.4 million uninsured in this state while state employees get free or almost-free Caillac health plans, all paid for by us citizens, insured or not.

At June 17, 2007 at 2:23 PM, Blogger Levois said...

Great pep talk Mr. Fritchey!!! I think it's a necessary one.

At June 18, 2007 at 12:07 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

Rep. Fritchey,

A friend of mine in Jersey County has been fighting a clear case of fraud by a school district board.

He has fought the issue from its inception, contacting all necessary law enforcement and legal authorities, while compiling an impressive amount of evidence and data.

After a shill judge tossed the case on a lame "timeliness" issue, he appealled. An appeals judge, when asked to rule on the issue using existing Illinois statutes, stated "if we let this case go forward, hundreds of school district might be open to suit." (or something to that effect. I don't have the trascript yet.)

That is exactly the point. You want to know the source of cynicism and disgust with Illinois politics and politicians? It's simple.

The basis of Western Civ. is the "rule of law, not men." Illinois is a textbook case of patronage, pay-to-play, and the arbitrary and capricious nature of interest group warfare.

This state is ruled by 3 or 5 men in a room, whose decisions are as arbitrary as the people who fund their campaigns.

There is no fixing this system. It simply must be broken, as the subtext of your last few posts so eloquently point out.

At June 18, 2007 at 5:35 AM, Anonymous Disgusted said...

To anonymous:

I don't know where you get your information, but, I, for one, do not receive free health insurance. I pay a portion of mine, just like private sector employees do.

Our pension funds are being robbed yearly to pay for other people's perks or pie-in-the-sky plans which we won't qualify for, and thus our pension situation is insecure. We put money into deferred compensation plans in an effort to have money when we retire and that is not matched by the state, that comes from our pockets.

I have no idea what you are referring to by transportion freebies, but I sure don't benefit from that as my bills are the gas pump will demonstrate.

And as far as lifetime job security, we have as much as private sector employees, which is nil. If the governor or a legislator has a person they want to have a job and you have it currently, you could removed in a heartbeat. Plus, as demonstrated by the current happenings at the Capitol, we can be made to work without being paid for it, if the budget is not passed. In the past this has resulted in state employees having to take out short-term, low-interest loans to pay their bills and no, we did not get reimbursed for the interest, nor paid interest on the money we "loaned" the state during that period.

The persons who are hired through patronage have grown mightily under this administration and they look their noses down at those of us who got their positions through experience in the private section and education. I have a supervisor who finished high school who is supervising people with master's degrees. So don't make generalizations. The privileged state employees you describe are the sweet, young things who follow the governor around,and lie for him and mop up his messes.

At June 18, 2007 at 9:42 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

To: To Rod and Emile

Your post could well be the funniest thing I have EVER read. I was literally laughing uncontrollably with tears streaming down my face.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I just can't post it. I don't think. Maybe if I use a whole lot of asterisks. I might see if Rich Miller is willing to post it though.

I'm still laughing.

At June 19, 2007 at 4:52 AM, Anonymous To Rod annd Emile said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At June 19, 2007 at 6:29 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

To Rod and Emile,

It was pointed out to me that, if taken out of context, your last post could be seen as inflammatory.

I got the message though:)


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