Dispatches XXVI: So Much for Shrinking All Government

From Jason Stein and Daniel Bice in the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration rewarded the new hardline Capitol Police chief and his top deputy with double-digit pay raises earlier this year after moving the pair on paper to phantom jobs for two weeks and then back to their real posts.

Chief Dave Erwin — who has overseen a crackdown on Walker protesters at the statehouse — received an overall salary hike of 11.7%, to $111,067 a year, the same rate as his predecessor. That amounts to an $11,680 annual raise.
That hefty raise was possible only because Walker officials transferred Erwin on Feb. 5 to a ghostposition in the state Department of Administration, according to a copy of the transfer letter obtained by the Journal Sentinel. Then, on the same day, he was shuffled back to his real job as head of the Capitol Police force.

Each of the moves, backdated to earlier in the fiscal year, came with a retroactive boost in pay for Erwin. Under state rules, the chief is a civil servant, not a political appointee.

Peter Fox — who served as employment relations secretary under then-Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican — said the moves were legal but a “charade” performed for favored employees. Fox said he was basing his comments on what he knew of state practices from his tenure more than a decade ago.

The ongoing crackdown mentioned in the article is described here and here. Discussion of the arrest of a member of the press, here.

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal article mentions the Department of Administration’s explanation that the pay raises were necessary to bring the officers’ pay in line with that being received by heads of other departments. This principle makes sense to me; civil servants should be compensated adequately. Nonetheless, I find it interesting that views with respect to adequate compensation and funding of state employees were not applied with equal vigor in other parts of the government; consider for instance local education, primarily K-12.


Figure 1: Wisconsin employment in local education, not seasonally adjusted (blue), 12 month moving average (red), seasonally adjusted using ARIMA X-12 (green). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Dashed line at 2011M01. Source: DWD, and author’s calculations.

If one compares May 2013 to May 2010, local education employment is down 7300, or 4.5% (log terms). Relative to 2010M12, seasonally adjusted employment is down 6943, or 4.7% (log terms).

Digression: The July figures for state employment were released today. Wisconsin employment growth continues to lag the US, and to lag a regional comparator, Minnesota.


Figure 2: Log private nonfarm payroll employment for Wisconsin (blue), for US (red), and for Minnesota (green), all 2011M01=0. Source: BLS, and author’s calculations.

Hence, Wisconsin’s lagging performance persists (see this April post).

21 thoughts on “Dispatches XXVI: So Much for Shrinking All Government

  1. randomworker

    Of course these guys pensions will be sacrosanct…
    This kind of stuff is why people throw up their hands. I’m getting there.
    Here some guy tries to bamboozle people into thinking hes a different kind of politician and he’s really just the same old thief looking out for his cronies.
    No doubt he fancies himself president someday.

  2. dilbert dogbert

    Politics is always and forever about rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies.

  3. Ricardo

    I can’t believe we have lowered the discussion of “my politician buys more loyalty than your politician, nani-nai-boo-boo!” Can anyone guess who might have spread more tax dollars and bought more votes and silence and “loyalty” than Scott Walker? Duh!!?

  4. Ricardo

    So just what is Menzie’s favorite state doing?
    Minnesota Uses Tax Dollars to Sell Obamacare
    “The overall theme is “Minnesota: Land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.”
    The campaign…reportedly will cost $9 million….”
    I sure am so glad they are not wasting $11,680. Can you imagine the outrage?!

  5. randomworker

    Our largest public hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), wrote off $24,000,000 in uncompensated care in 2012. If all those patients had purchased bronze health isurance policies on the healthcare exchange, the good tax payers of Hennepin County would have not had to finance the freeloaders. So a $9 million campaign seems to make sense, does it not? I mean, even in this one county alone it makes sense!
    45% of the HCMC patients were paid by state and federal programs (mostly Medicaid and Medicare). A lot of people get on Medicaid after they get sick and exhaust their assets. Had they had insurance, they might not have ended up on Medicaid. Or broke. Or both!
    The budget for HCMC for 2013 is over $750,000,000. Come on, Ricardo…don’t you want to see more of this paid for by the users as opposed to the long suffering taxpayers of Minnesota? The only way to do that is to mandate they go out and purchase insurance. And letting people know they have that option is the purpose of the ad campaign.
    Did W have a Medicare Part D ad campaign when that was started? As I recall, yes he did!!!
    Now this randomworker needs to put down the salad fixins and get back to work.

  6. Blissex

    I like this post in particular because it goes against the usual propaganda that public workers all get huge salaries and pensions.
    As Michael Lewis for one correctly wrote in “Boomerang!” in the USA the good salaries and fat pensions and health benefits in the public sector go only to policemen and firemen at the local level; plus the military at federal level (and top managers at every level, but that’s true everywhere).
    The military, policemen, firemen are overwhelmingly Republicans (or Blue Dog Democrats), and their work is about property protection, and the big property owners (businessmen, landlords) who sponsor the Republican Party want to make sure that those tasked to protect their interests know which side their bread is being generously buttered on.
    There is another subtle reason: well paid policemen in particular become propertied middle class and this tends to align their interests with those of their sponsors.
    So even otherwise miserly Republican local governments have been giving very generous perks to their friends in property protection, and when the bill comes due, they will take that as a good reason to slash spending on everything else to continue to make their friends happy.

  7. benamery21

    It seems likely the legality of such antics is purely technical, and might well not survive a court challenge. I suppose it depends on how the civil service laws are written up your way.
    In any event, public attention to this is unlikely to be of benefit to Walker’s agenda, which can only be good. Cheap at the price.

  8. Rick Stryker

    I don’t usually follow Wisconsin politics, but this post seems inconsistent with the article linked to.
    First, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article notes that the previous police chief, Charles Tubbs, made $111,067 in 2012. When Erwin was hired, they apparently misposted the maximum salary. The 11.7% raise he got corrected the error, bringing his salary to where Tubbs was in 2012, $111,067. Rather than getting special treatment, it looks to me that Erwin did not get the 1% salary increase for 2013 the other Wisconsin employees received, but is stuck at 2012 levels.

  9. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker: You might note that I stated civil servants should be paid fairly. I have nothing specific against the police chief and his top deputy (I didn’t notice a mistake in pay listing there) getting paid what they get paid. But I think it’s interesting where priorities are — raises for some, job eliminations for others.

  10. Rick Stryker

    The article stated that Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said “the raise for Erwin also reflected a mistake made when the Capitol Police chief’s job was posted for candidates with a maximum annual salary of $99,387. The previous chief, Charles Tubbs, had made $111,067 per year.”
    I can’t verify the $111,067 exactly. This website
    records that Tubbs was paid $108,594 in 2011 and his hourly wage was $53.19 in 2012. With 251 working days in 2012 and 9 (I think) holidays in Wisconsin, that would be 53.19 X 8 X 260 = $110,635. There is about a 1 day discrepancy between this number and the $111,067, but it’s close enough. I don’t think there is any reason to disbelieve the $111,067.
    It’s clear that Erwin at $99,387 came in significantly lower than the previous Police Chief’s 2011 salary. That they corrected that does not suggest to me any hidden political agenda or inconsistency.

  11. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker: Let me reiterate – appropriate pay is a good thing. Rectification of the mistake for the police chief’s pay is a good thing, then (as I said in the post, and in the comment). My point is that the administration was apparently less solicitous of the idea of appropriate pay for other civil servants, including teachers. And I’m still a’wondering about the deputy chiefs +14% pay raise…No mistake in the listing mentioned there…

  12. Rick Stryker

    I think Deputy Chief Blackdeer’s pay hike is explicable as well. As the article notes:
    “Marquis said Blackdeer has taken on new responsibilities as well, including improved coordination of security at other state facilities.”
    If you look at the same Wisconsin pay website
    http://www.postcrescent.com/article/99999999/WIS0110/130115052/What-We-Pay-State-Wisconsin-salaries?appSession=38062316658662&Re cordID=9190&PageID=3&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=1&CPIsortType=&CPIorderBy=&cbCurrentRecordPosition=1
    you can see that Blackdeer was paid $97,997 in 2011, which is more than his new 2013 salary of $96,048. The reason for this is that $15,459 of the total was overtime in 2011.
    I think what happened is that Blackdeer took on new responsibilities, for which he was paid overtime. In 2013, they formalized those responsibilities and raised his salary. Again, it’s not clear that he’s being treated favorably relative to other Wisconsin state employees, since he’s now making less than he did in 2011.
    How do you go from Erwin’s and Blackdeer’s cases to the point that the Walker Administration is less worried about appropriate pay for teachers? I’m for adequate pay for teachers and other civil servants as well but the fact that local education employment is down doesn’t imply that local employees are not being paid adequately, does it?

  13. Ricardo

    Menzie wrote:
    I think it’s interesting where priorities are — raises for some, job eliminations for others.
    Yes, this is a significant difference betwee Progressives and liberals. Liberals have no problem paying to support the state in protecting citizens. Progressives have no problems giving tax revenue to public unions, unproven “green” initiatives, new government buildings, raises for those best at acquiring data on political enemies, generally the political rent seakers.
    Thanks Menzie. Once again we agree.

  14. 2slugbaits

    Hmmmm…so the official story…excuse me, stories are that (1) the raise was really just a correction to an error, and (2) the raise was a performance incentive for some initiatives that the Chief took. Well, both stories cannot be true at the same time. If the raise was to correct an error, then the correction consumed 100% of the raise leaving 0% to reward performance. And if any amount greater than 0% was for performance, then the Chief should get an additional raise to fully correct the error. So the Governor’s apologists should get their stories straight.
    The “error” is large enough that the smaller salary posted with the job announcement could have dissuaded better qualified candidates from even applying. Afterall, it’s reasonable to assume that offering a significantly higher salary will encourage a larger pool of applicants. The right way to handle this situation would have been to terminate the Chief, and reopen the hiring process with the correct salary.
    Finally, for once I agree with Ricardo, although for very different reasons. Ricardo is right to call the higher salary rent; but it’s rent in the textbook sense of the term. The Chief already demonstrated that he was willing to accept the job for a lower salary. Increasing someone’s salary above what that person was willing to accept is the very definition of pure rent. But that’s how Gov. Walker rolls…he has never understood the difference between rent and profit.

  15. Anonymous

    “But I think it’s interesting where priorities are — raises for some, job eliminations for others.”
    LMAO have you EVER ran a business? Of course this is how it goes.

  16. Anonymous

    “Our largest public hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), wrote off $24,000,000 in uncompensated care in 2012. If all those patients had purchased bronze health isurance policies on the healthcare exchange, the good tax payers of Hennepin County would have not had to finance the freeloaders.”
    You are mentally ill or just ignorant of the basic facts. Hennepin County is writing off uncollectable bills from extremely poor people who show up and need care. Those people aren’t going to purchase a plan, they are going to have their plan paid for them by tax payers via subsidies. In short, the tax payers and/or people who buy health insurance are footing the bill either way you look at it.

  17. Rick Stryker

    (1) and (2) are perfectly consistent, according to the article that Menzie linked to. When the Chief took the job, he was promised that his pay would be increased to that of the previous Chief, subject to good performance during the 6-month probation. Thus, the Chief did not accept a job with a lower salary but rather accepted the job subject to the promise that his salary would be raised provided that he performed well during the probationary period–which he apparently did.
    I don’t really see any politics here.

  18. 2slugbaits

    Rick Stryker Yes, the paid liar…er, I mean Walker spokesperson, did indeed say that the Chief was promised a raise; but if that was the case, then why did she also describe the lower salary “reflected a mistake” in the job posting? Again, you can’t simultaneously claim that it was part of the deal when he was hired and also claim that there was a mistake in the job posting. And then to compound matters you cannot go on to say that the raise was also intended to reward the Chief for taking on further duties that weren’t in the original job description. The Governor’s spokesperson also said that the Governor had no hand in the raise. So how does that square with her statement that Erwin was promised a pay raise if he passed probation? If the Governor didn’t make that promise, then who did? Was that person authorized to make such a promise without the Governor’s consent? Nothing about her story makes sense or adds up. It’s riddled with contradictions. The problem here is that the Governor’s office has over-explained the pay raise. If you believe the Governor’s story, then I know a Nigerian prince who would like to give you his royal fortune if only you’ll help him with airfare to get back to his country.
    I think we have a pretty good idea what really happened. Like most jobs, the new hire was brought in with a salary that was somewhat below what the prior veteran chief was making. That’s pretty typical in business and government. It’s assumed that with experience productivity will increase, so there will be follow-on raises. I doubt very much that the salary in the job posting was a mistake. But then after the Chief was on the job awhile he discovered that he was making a lot less than his predecessor, and like a lot of folks he got ticked off. The Governor promised to make things right in exchange for getting tough with protesters. Do I think the Governor literally sat him down in the office and made an explicit quid pro quo? No. But I do think the Chief talked to enough Walker staffers to know that if he prominently cracked down on protesters, the Governor would take notice. So there was an implied quid pro quo.

  19. Rick Stryker

    Well, there’s no point in trying to refute 2slugbaits’ conspiracy theory. It’s just pure speculation.
    But I have noticed that no one has really commented on the underlying idea, that the Capitol police have been “cracking down” on anti-Walker protesters in order to stifle free speech, even going so far as to arrest a journalist. Is this really unusual behavior on the part of the Wisconsin Capitol police?
    Let’s look at the facts rather than speculate. First, the protesters have not been arrested for protesting. They have been arrested for refusing to obtain a permit to protest as the law requires. Second, they have been arrested for using photography and displaying signs in the Capitol, against the rules. Are these rules unusual?
    If you have ever visited the US Capitol, you will know that there is a long list of prohibited items, cameras and video recorders being on the list. Moreover, if you want to protest at the US Capitol, you must fill out a form and submit to the US Capitol police for a permit. Once you have that permit, you are only permitted to protest in specific areas. If you don’t get the permit or stray out of those areas, you will be arrested. If you protest in any off limits area, like inside the Capitol, you will be arrested.
    What about over at the Supreme Court? Regulation 7 prohibits any demonstrations within the Court building or on the grounds. If you demonstrate, the Supreme Court police will arrest you.
    I wonder how many people who are upset about the Walker Administration’s alleged crackdown realize that our Democratic President signed HR 347 last year? This is a bipartisan bill that makes it a federal offense punishable by up to a year in jail for demonstrating in any restricted building or grounds. The bill is here:
    If you look at the bill, you can see it essentially creates a moveable zone of protection around anyone who has secret service protection and around any event that is a National Special Security Event (NSSE). NSSEs can be the Democratic or Republican Conventions, Nato meetings, and even the Super Bowl. Demonstrate around an NSSE or around anyone who has Secret Service protection and you can go to jail.
    On the House side, this bill passed with all Democrats voting yes and all Republicans voting yes except for 3. Most people haven’t heard about this but of those who have, most don’t realize that there is nothing new in principle about the bill. HR 347 is just an amendment to existing law.
    Laws like this have been on the books since the early 1970s. The 2006 revision to the long-standing anti-protesting laws added the NSSE provisions. The current bill adds 2 more features. First, it weakens the language of existing law to make it easier to prosecute protesters. Second, it specifically includes the White House and grounds, and the Vice President’s house and grounds. Since it is already illegal to protest in either place, many civil rights advocates think the point of adding this language was to make it easier to prosecute demonstrators in the near vicinity of either place.
    The Wisconsin capitol police are just enforcing the same laws that are in effect all over the country. The police are just doing their job. There is nothing unusual going on. This is a silly issue and to suggest that the Wisconsin Capitol police are in cahoots with the government is even sillier still.

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