No doubt you’ve heard it said that “we ought to run government like a business.”
Most of the time, that’s merely a cliché that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
Then again, you get an exception to the rule. Take the case of state agencies paying what amounts to “severance pay” to public employees who resign their public jobs.
As the Texas Tribune reports, the practice in Texas is likely to vanish during the next legislative session … as it should.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has paid such severance to several former staffers. Paxton doesn’t call it “severance.” He calls it “emergency leave” pay.
What the bleep is the difference?
This is outrageous. It ought to stop. It’s a waste of valuable public money that the state keeps harping about that it doesn’t have.
I happen to know a bit about how private business handles these issues. It’s a whole lot less generous — in a case with which I am intimately familiar — than it is in the public sector.
In August 2012 I received some shattering news from a hired gun brought in to manage the “reorganization” of the newspaper where I was working at the time. We were told we could apply for any job we wanted. I chose to apply for the job I’d been doing at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years; I thought I was doing a pretty good job.
Not long after being interviewed twice by the management team at the newspaper, the hired gun called me into his office and said: “There’s no easy way to say this, but we’ve decided to give your job to someone else.” The “someone else” also had applied for the same position, so my employer went with him. I was out.
I chose to resign on the spot rather than apply for another position and face the remote possibility of getting hired for that. I was qualified to do one thing at the newspaper, but I didn’t do it well enough to suit my employer.
During what amounted to an exit interview the next morning with my soon-to-be former boss, I asked about a severance. He all but laughed in my face.
I walked out.
That’s how it’s done in private business. You resign, you don’t get a severance, man. Ross Ramsey, writing for the Texas Tribune, says private businesses do offer such severance deals, but they come with a price. Ramsey writes:
“In the business world, departing employees are sometimes given a golden parachute in exchange for their silence — a ‘thanks for all you’ve done’ along with a ‘keep your trap shut about what happened here.’” I didn’t get that, so I’m free to blab.
But, when someone leaves a government job in Texas, they qualify for “severance” or “emergency leave.”
Give me a break.
End the practice … as soon as possible.