Too bad House Speaker Thom Tillis tenderheartedness toward his top aide doesnt trickle down to all state workers. (Try saying that three times really fast.)
Even more difficult than saying that, though, is trying to feed your family as a state employee without a raise for the past four years. Of course, if youre close enough to Tillis to touch the hem of his garment, prying loose a raise isnt a problem even after you no longer work for him.
As reported in Thursdays N&O, Tillis sliced off a hunk of taxpayer cheese to lay on his former top aide, Charles C. Thomas. Citing an obscure bill from get this the United Kingdom, Tillis paid his former chief of staff $12,500 in lieu of notice after Thomas resigned in lieu of his affair with a married lobbyist being made public.
Fret not, though. Proving that he is not sexist, Tillis also bestowed a lovely, parting, taxpayer-funded gift upon a second employee, policy adviser Amy Hobbs. She received $6,833.33 after she resigned upon disclosing an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist.
As Tillis told The N&O, the pay in lieu of notice was to soften the devastating blow suffered by Hobbs and Thomas after losing their jobs.
Yes, but they lost them because of their own actions, so why do taxpayers have to help soften their landing?
Using taxpayer money
As observers of the biblical entreaty to let he who is without sin pick up some, we shouldnt judge the morality of Thomas, Hobbs or any other employees who may have engaged in inappropriate relationships.
As taxpayers, though, we have every right to question the justification for Tillis using our dough to bid the dallying duo adieu.
Had Tillis taken the money from his personal checking account, hed be hailed as a swell fellow who didnt turn his back on two former employees in distress. Had that been the case, we could actually applaud his desire to help a former employee of whom he was quite fond. Remember that 25 percent raise Tillis gave Thomas, from $120,000 a year to $150,000, even as he was vowing to cut taxes and his staff payroll?
The money for Thomas and Hobbs didnt come from his personal account, though. It came from us. State employees whove forgotten how to spell pay raise certainly arent applauding, because while Thom the Tenderhearted seems to have an affinity for his employees, Thom the Terrible seems to show no such goodwill toward state employees.
Dana Cope, head of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said Tillis is simply following an old legislative tradition in giving them the back of his er, hand. Were the redheaded stepchildren of the state, Cope said. Its not right, but Tillis is doing what Easley and Black did, taking care of their political appointees and ignoring state workers. Or declaring war on them.
Remarks about teachers
Who can forget the open-mike night a year ago when Tillis vowed to give them a little taste of whats to come after introducing a bill to prevent the teachers union from collecting dues through payroll deductions?
He also has said teachers dont care about kids, but only about their pensions. Its hard imagining a worse thing one could say about members of a profession that teaches and shapes young minds, often at personal sacrifice.
You know that lucre Tillis is so fond of spreading to his employees and former employees?
Wouldnt it be nice if he spread some of their way?
Cope agrees. I hope (Tillis) treats other state employees the way he treats his political appointees, he said.
Not unless theyre close enough to touch the hem of his garment, he wont.
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