Tag Archives: ethics

#MoLeg Update: Ethics and Paycheck Protection

25 Feb

I would like to report on the Jefferson County angle on two recent happenings in the Missouri Legislature.

Paycheck Protection: This bill requires public sector unions in the state (i.e. those representing government employees) to get yearly permission from workers before taking automatic deduction of union dues from their paychecks. It passed the state House a week ago by a veto-proof margin. This idea is tougher for union types to argue against than right to work: while only two JeffCo GOP representatives have voted for right to work, so far (Shaul and Vescovo), four of the six voted for paycheck protection. Only Becky Ruth (114th district, Festus) and Elaine Gannon (115th, De Soto) voted no on this one, which now moves to the Senate.

The logic is this: if the employees don’t agree with the union’s politics, or don’t think it offers value, they shouldn’t be forced to pay. The union should have to collect its fees like any other organization, rather than receiving free collection services from the government. Furthermore, some ask why public unions even exist, given that state employees already receive the full range of civil service protections that make it so hard to fire bad ones.

Ethics: A number of ethics bills passed the House early in the session and are now being taken up in the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate took out the knives and gutted the one year cooling off period provision, which would make legislators wait a year after leaving office before becoming a lobbyist. Recall last year when Senator Dempsey quit the Senate in order to become a lobbyist.

Adding to the unfortunateness, our own Senator Paul Wieland (22nd, Imperial, GOP) helped remove the cooling off period. We know this because the Missouri Alliance for Freedom (MAF) was watching in the Senate gallery. The Senate voted on the idea by standing division, which means no written record was kept. But the MAF saw Wieland join the anti-ethics side. I saw no word on whether Wieland, who made the top-ten list of lobbyist gift recipients in 2015, said anything in the Senate debate on a bill banning lobbyist gifts. That bill was shelved for a later time. Wieland needs to get on the right side of these ethics bills.


More on Shockey Nepotism

28 May

– The official path of hire for a police officer goes from the police personnel board to the “appointing authority.” I find no clear answer to who that is; perhaps the mayor. This would suggest that Arnold Police Chief Robert Shockey perhaps did not officially directly hire his son-in-law as a city police officer. But what was his role in the process? It was surely not small. From the council videos in my last post, it was apparent he sits in on interviews with candidates (and perhaps participates in questioning?). Would the police board, made up of civilians, not give great weight to his opinions of candidates, assuming policy was followed and they were involved in the process? Would not the mayor also be interested in his thoughts? And we know that the Chief pushed for the creation of the cadet position shortly before his son-in-law was hired as a cadet. Ethically, this stinks, and it needs to be investigated.

– Arnold’s nepotism ordinance is weak; after all, it allowed a councilman’s nephew to be appointed to a city board. In addition to having a limited range of relationships barred from hiring or appointment, it only applies to elected officials, not to department heads, who have a large role in selecting new hires. However, the city’s personnel policy goes further, and is relevant here:


An employee shall not be allowed to hire, supervise, evaluate, determine salary level, or promote a member of the employee’s family or spouse’s family (as defined in Section 3.1) or have an influence over these decisions.

This was no doubt violated. As with Shockey’s business dealings, who else knew?

– Some have objected to the mention of Shockey’s daughter and son-in-law here, regarding it as bringing family into a political discussion. But in fact, these two individuals have benefited financially from Shockey’s position, so they are relevant to the story. Recall when the daughter-in-law of the Fox C-6 School Board president was hired as the district’s food services director. Was the Post-Dispatch wrong to describe Kelly Nash’s resume, relation to the board president, and hiring? Not at all. This story would have received the same coverage had it come to light at the time of the hire (maybe). But in both cases, the primary focus is on the relative in power and on the policies of the hiring entity.

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