Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Blanco memo

Some folks are up in arms about a Blanco Memo that was circulated to all the classified workers of the State Civil Service last week. Xavier blogs about it here. You can see a regurgitation of the memo here.

In the memo, the Queen Bee reminds everyone that classified workers can't take part in the political process in Louisiana. That has been the law for a lot of years. In Louisiana, basically all a classified civil servant is allowed to do is to vote. I got one of those memos every election cycle for the twenty years I worked for the state. This just explains the law to the lesser mortals.

Back in the old days before the Civil Service Law, state employees were threatened with their jobs every election cycle under the old Louisiana spoils system. Lots of good people lost their jobs simply because they didn't back the current winners. Governor Sam Jones is credited with beginning the civil service system currently in use in Louisiana.

The current rules for classified employees is here(click on Civil Service rules, the click on Chapter 14):
(e) No employee in the classified service and no member of the Commission shall

1. Participate or engage in political activity.

2. Be a candidate for nomination or election to public office, except to seek election as the Classified State employee serving on the State Civil Service Commission.

3. Be a member of any national, state, or local committee of a political party or faction.

4. Take active part in the management of the affairs of a political party, faction, candidate, or any political campaign, except to exercise his right as a citizen to express his opinion privately, to serve as a commissioner or official watcher at the polls, and to cast his vote as he desires.

5. Take active part in an effort to recall from office an elected public official, or seek, solicit or attempt to coerce any person including any employee in the classified service and any member of the Commission into participating in any such effort or signing a recall petition except that nothing contained herein shall prevent an employee in the classified service or member of the Commission from signing a recall petition.
This law leads to some localized weirdness.

For example, in one instance a worker in the state civil service was blocked from supporting his wife, who was running for a local School Board office. In another instance, a deputy sheriff was blocked from putting a "Re-Elect Sheriff Jones" sign in his yard because his wife worked for the Highway Department and was a co-owner of the property.

Civil Servants can't take part in the political process. They effectively give up that right when they sign up to work for the State. It's old law. It's been around for a while.

This one isn't Blanco's fault. It's part of the weird system Louisiana adopted years ago.

1 comment:

Xavier said...

Very true PawPaw.

However, circulating a memo to remind your peons of the existing law in the face of a recall action demonstrates a distain for the knowledge level of those peons. The memo is insulting to every state employee, and speaks volumes on the mentality of Kathleen Blanco. As Mrs. Blanco tries to put her minions in their places, she exposes her elitism to those who would not have supported the petition in the first place.

The law was always there. The memo was not. The law is fine and dandy. The memo is offensive.