"The practices of the past are no longer acceptable. And by that I mean, they are totally acceptable."
However, a quick little examination of a couple facts shows that not only is it still business as usual (in direct contradiction to what he claims in soundbites to the media), it may be that Papa Joe is making it part of his policy.
I noticed in the news today that Troy Body (I think that was his name) resigned his post as "acting" Director of Culture and History. He gave as a reason for moving on to some job in Kentucky, that he'd been in that position for 18 months, and he was still "acting." Evidently, he felt he should have been given the full post. That jogged my memory about something I noticed the other day. I had been poking around on some local news sites, and I was rereading the "I Team" report about sexual harassment in state government on the WOWK-TV website. I noticed, that Tax Commissioner Virgil Helton, is listed in that article as currently the "Acting" Tax Commissioner. It was kind of odd, because that story also involved a letter he had written in regards to that sexual harassment case, way back in the spring, as "Acting" Tax Commissioner.
So, I checked, and sure enough on the State Tax Department's website, he's the Acting Tax Commissioner, being appointed to that post on January 17, 2005. It also says he used to be Deputy Director of Finance and Administration at the Lottery Commission. So, I went to the Lottery website and was poking around looking for his name there, and managed to find a news release just last month where some guy was appointed to fill the Deputy Director for Finance and Administration position that was held by Virgil Helton before he was named Acting Tax Commissioner in January of 2005. This guy's name is James Toney. Well, thanks to the wonders of the State Auditor's Office, you can find out any state worker's salary.
I asked the Auditor's office how much Mr. Toney was making. Mr. Toney makes $72,000 per year. I then asked how much Mr. Helton makes. He makes $80,208 per year. However, I remember hearing one time that agency heads and super secretaries' salaries are set by statute. I thought they were like even numbers or something, so the "208" part of his salary seemed weird. I also thought I remembered some rumblings about these top level administrator's salaries last spring when the judges got their pay raise. I seemed to remember some of the agency heads and other top-level administrators were in line to get raises in some of the judge's pay raise proposed legislation. So, I went looking for that code section. It's code section 6-7-2a. It lists the salaries of about a zillion different agency heads and super secretary positions. Funny thing is, that the tax commissioner is required by statute to be paid $65,000. But, Mr. Helton, is making $80,208, over $15,000 more than the law stipulates. One can only assume the $80,208 is what Helton was making at the Lottery. Because his current post has a salary of $65,000, required by law.
So, I thought, I'd poke around in the code and see what the deal is on these "acting" directors/commissioners/whatevers. The "real" directors/commissioners are supposed to be "confirmed" by the senate. I knew that much. But I wondered if there was some sort of time limit or something on the "actings." I didn't find anything in the code, but I took a shot and tried the WV Constitution, and low and behold, there it is, in Article VII, section 9. Recess Vacancies. The Governor appoints someone to a vacancy, as he did with Helton, while the Senate is in recess. When the Senate has it's "next meeting," the Governor SHALL (i.e., he MUST) make a nomination for that position, and the Senate has to give it the thumbs up or down. Why is Helton STILL acting? The Governor does not have any discretion here. The constitution is clear.
I wonder why he didn't nominate anyone? Why didn't the Governor send Helton's name to the Senate for confirmation during this year's regular session? Or during one of the umpteen special sessions we've had this year? I wonder if his theory is, that as long as Helton is "acting" he can continue to collect his $80,203, and not have to take a $15,000 pay cut? Usually, those "acting" positions are so that they can have someone step "up" and fill it, and if they eventually choose an outside person to be the REAL commissioner/whatever, the "acting" can go back to his "original" job, at his "original" salary. But, Helton doesn't have an "original" job to go back to. That's been filled by James Toney at the Lottery Commission.
So why is he still being paid his "original" salary of $80,208? He should be making $65,000, as required by the law in 6-7-2a. The Governor is directly ignoring the law, and it's costing the taxpayers of WV an extra $15,000, for just one position. And there are several of these "acting" directors/commissioners/whatevers around state government. Helton is just one of them. That Body guy was another. In my quick research I found there's also two "co-directors" of the PEIA, and an acting Director of the Division of Personnel. I didn't do anywhere near a comprehensive search, and some of the positions don't have much info about them on the web, so there may very well be other (in fact, I'd bet on it) "actings" out there.
Sure, the practices of the past, are just not acceptable to this administration. They appear to be mandatory