POWELL: Layoff authority next July won't scare state unions

Published on Sunday, 20 December 2020 20:14
Written by

By CHRIS POWELL

While the master state government employee union contract's ban on layoffs expires next July, no serious changes in personnel management that might favor the public can be expected. There are two reasons for this.

First, the remainder of the contract will remain in force until 2027, a disgraceful provision used three years ago by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly to tie the hands of their successors and guarantee a decade of advantage to their party's political army, the state employee unions.

And second, state government employees aren't scared by the threat of layoffs. Protected by the contract, no unionized state employee will have to work any harder or suffer any loss of compensation if any colleague is laid off. A layoff threat could scare state government employees only if was aimed at a majority of them, and that won't happen. Indeed, substantial layoffs probably would not ever be in the public interest anyway, since they would cause serious reductions in public service, even as there is need for more state employees in certain areas, like state police, health and medical services, and financial and professional regulation.

That's why the Malloy administration's frequent boasts of having slightly reduced state government employment were so empty. The staff reductions did not improve public service even as the total cost of state government employment still rose anyway because of raises and increased spending for the state employee pension fund.

Until employee compensation can be curtailed, it will be impossible to economize with state government personnel and improve public service. That's why so little is to be gained from regionalizing municipal services, calls for which were recently renewed by some state legislators, including state Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester.

Yes, towns can and do share animal control officers and schools, and they could share more, like police departments, and such sharing can eliminate the need for a position here and there. But while combining school systems may allow a superintendent's position to be eliminated, an assistant superintendent may be hired. The same with police chiefs. Get rid of one and another deputy chief may be needed. In any case a single year's worth of ordinary raises will far exceed whatever has been saved by eliminating or consolidating positions. Regionalizing mainly will provide cover for more raises.

The old Red-baiter Richard Nixon managed to get away politically with going to China and making nice with its communist regime, but it is almost impossible to imagine a Democratic governor in Connecticut doing such a brazen reversal and thereby alienating his party's army.

So even Governor Lamont may not notice when he gains layoff authority next July. At least he will have no reason to want to notice.

FRAUD IS STILL A DANGER

This week's votes by the 50 state components of the Electoral College have settled the question of who will be the next president. All that remains is for Congress to count the votes.

But the votes of the Electoral College do not settle the question of whether there was substantial fraud in the presidential election.

For there is fraud in nearly every major election, even if it is not enough to alter the result, and many people have put their names to complaints of irregularities or improprieties in the voting in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, three of the "swing" states that determined the election's result.

The election in Georgia was so close that even a little fraud could have altered the result there.

Investigating these complaints officially is crucial because this presidential election was conducted with an unprecedented volume of absentee balloting and there is growing clamor throughout the country, including in Connecticut, for extending it. But the more distance and intermediaries between voters and the casting and counting of ballots at polling places - the more handling of ballots - the greater the opportunity for mistakes and fraud and the more difficulty and delay in tabulation, which add to suspicion.

President Trump and some of his people may be demagogues but the mechanisms of this election were vastly different and questionable all the same. They should not be repeated without close study.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, Editorials on Sunday, 20 December 2020 20:14. Updated: Sunday, 20 December 2020 20:16.