Lame duck session includes changes to LIRC Redux

As a followup to my previous post about the lame duck changes to the Labor and Industry Review Commission, I have some more information.

First, here is what we know about Commission appointments during the lame duck:

  • Laurie McCallum put in her retirement papers BEFORE the election.
  • In those papers, Jan. 6th was her designated last day.
  • Evers won the election.
  • Walker appointed Georgia Maxwell to McCallum’s seat on Nov. 30th (but formally indicated the appointment is for Jan. 6th).

Yes, you are reading this info correctly. It says on p.1 that the nomination is dated on Jan. 6th but the actual nomination letter is dated Nov. 30th. “Let’s do the time warp, yeaaahhh.”

  • The Senate approved her appointment and 80 others in its lame duck session.
  • The Maxwell for McCallum appointment is allegedly legal because: (1) the Senate can determine for itself what appointments are proper, and (2) an Atty Gen. opinion indicates that appointments in a current term are legit.
  • The Atty General opinion — 76 Op. Att’y Gen. 272 — is rather ambiguous on this appointment. The opinion is essentially saying that a governor and the senate cannot fill future positions. Here, the position does NOT become vacant until 1/6/2019, the last day of the current legislative session. The problem is that Maxwell’s “appointment” is occurring now, before the position is actually vacant. So, the appointment is for a future vacancy in the current (by one day) legislative session — a situation not quite covered by the AG opinion.

Second, the Commission is “securing” a job for its current general counsel.

Recall that the general counsel was previously a person hired by the Commission. When the Commission starting ruling against DWD over unemployment concealment, a provision in the budget was suddenly added to strip some funding from the Commission and make the general counsel an appointee of the governor (and, Senate confirmation for this appointment is not required).

Maria Gonzales Knavel served admirably as the first governor appointee, but she left the job when Gov. Walker proposed eliminating the Commission. When the Commission survived that attack, Gov. Walker appointed Georgia Maxwell as a Commissioner and Karl Dahlen as the new general counsel.

Apparently with the rush of new appointments during the lame duck session, Dahlen’s position was missed.

So, now the Commission has posted for one week, closing on Dec. 21st, a position for a new staff attorney that is apparently a way for Dahlen to remain at the Commission.

And, who thought Gov. Walker was not serious about creating jobs? Here, not even holiday breaks stop his administration from creating jobs for those who might be out of work soon. The big question remains, however: will Dahlen get to keep his six-figure salary of around $120,000 in his new job?

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