The LaCrosseWatchdog has obtained an email that La Crosse County Administrator (Steve O'Malley) sent to all La Crosse County employees. The email contained several statements that are clear partisan attacks on Scott Walker and the Republican plan to balance the state budget. It would seem that Steve O'Malley may be in violation of the Hatch Act which prohibits civil servants including state and local who's departments receive federal funding (23% of the 2010 county budget came from federal/state revenues) from engaging in partisan political activity while:
- on duty
- using government resources (email)
- in a government office
- wearing an official uniform
- using a government vehicle
From: Steve O'Malley
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2011 3:13 PM
To: All Downtown County Employees; All Remote County Employees
Subject: State budget impacts
Fellow County employees:
I'm sure that many of you are following the events in Madison closely and are concerned about the implications for the future of County employment and services.
Last week on Thursday and then on Monday, the County Board approved one year agreements with all bargaining units for a 0% increase in wages, 0% in Health Insurance premiums, and no change in any other major compensation item, including pension contributions by the County. This is the same proposal that the County presented in September and is assumed in our 2011 Budget. It is our understanding that the employees covered by these agreements will not be effected by the increased pension contribution proposed by the governor during the term of the contract.
These contracts only provide sometime, they will not change the effect of the Governor's changes in the long term if adopted by the legislature. It seems clear that regardless of bargaining history, employees will be required by State Law to contribute to pension costs at the expiration of the contract and non-union staff will be impacted as soon as the law is made effective. The County Board has asked Administrative staff to present options to consider for non-union staff for 2011 to the March Executive committee meeting.
These are among the most challenging times most of us will ever see in public service. Counties and our employees did not cause the State deficit and I do not support the State forcing unilateral changes of employment upon us without our input. In particular, I do not believe there is any justification for eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees. And I do not support requiring pension contributions from general employees, while asking nothing more of those in protective service.
The greatest uncertainty now is about the Governor's full Budget bill for the next biennium, which is now supposed to be released on March 1st. Due to the complexity of the County budget and multiple impacts that happen from the State Budget, it will take 2-3 weeks for the analysis to identify the specific impact on La Crosse County. When we have more information and clarity on the size of the financial challenge confronting us, we will conduct several employee meetings to share that information and answer questions. I decided not to begin these meetings now, since there is still so much unknown until the Governor releases his budget proposal.
The link below will take you to the power point slide presentation I provided to the County Board and Department Heads, that summarizes what we know at the present time. http://laxtlc/cgiwin/auth/$Launch.dll?Timer=YES&CourseCode=CABUDGETBILL&LessonNumber=l
I am proud of the work that this organization does for our community. While we have known for sometime that the impacts of the State Budget will be severe, I do not believe the current approach that attacks public employees is appropriate or deserved. I will continue to do everything I can to look out for the best interest of maintaining quality services as much as possible, while communicating with you about the potential impacts and changes being imposed by the State government on La Crosse County.
La Crosse County Administrator