Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Saturday Night Massacre Redux

Special Counsel Staff Handed Pink Slips; Seven Fired for Refusing Moves to Dallas and Detroit

The U.S. Special Counsel has handed out termination papers to seven headquarters staff members who refused involuntary reassignment to a proposed new office in Detroit and an existing office in Dallas. The seven were given one week – the minimum period allowed – to change their minds or be removed from the federal service in 30 days, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Last month, Scott Bloch, the Bush-appointed Special Counsel, abruptly ordered 12 headquarters employees, on penalty of removal, to relocate to Dallas, Oakland and a newly created Detroit field office. Originally, five employees accepted the reassignments; with four of those five indicating that their acceptance was under duress. One of the four who accepted the reassignment under duress has found a position outside OSC and has submitted a letter of resignation. The remaining seven staff members declined the involuntary transfers and now are being removed.

The 12 reassigned employees represent more than a fifth of the Special Counsel headquarters legal and investigative staff. Bloch did not consult beforehand with the people he selected for relocation nor did he ask for volunteers who might be willing to move. All 12 are career employees hired before Bloch became Special Counsel, an agency with the mission of protecting federal whistleblower and merit system rights.

I am not a big believer in the cradle-to-grave civil service job security thing. But (a) I do think government employees, especially at the levels where they are taking a big hit in earnings power by taking a public sector gig, are entitled to some procedural rights, and (b) it is pretty damned obvious how this is a logical consequence of the fox-in-the-henhouse view of white-collar crime in this White House.


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