Fleecing the taxpayers: it’s not just the Chicago Way

September 23, 2011

Yesterday I linked to a John Kass column about how some union bosses are legally ripping off the taxpayers of Illinois. (ST covered it in much more detail here.) But lest one think this kind of “authorized corruption” is limited to Blue states like Illinois, California, or New York, consider how the public sheep are being sheered in deep-Red Arizona:

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

For top officers, the typical amount of annual release time is 2,080 hours, a full year of work based on 52 weeks at 40 hours each. They continue to draw full pay and benefits, just as if they were showing up for their regular jobs. But they are released from their regular duties to conduct undefined union business.

Union officials say the time is a good investment that leads to a more productive workforce. Critics say it amounts to an illegal gift of taxpayer money.

Be sure to read the whole thing. I’m not surprised the union officials think this is a good investment. While no mention is made of union political donations,  it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they “invest” a little cash (drawn from member dues) in the campaigns of pliant councilmen, which then leads to the sweetheart clauses that allow them to collect a public salary while never doing a bit of the work they’re being paid for. Or they threaten to use their members’ dues to campaign against uncooperative officials, giving them an incentive to play along to the detriment of the public interest.

This is what happens in general when labor unions are allowed to become a labor cartel, to have a monopoly over the supply of labor: with no fear of competition, union bosses can concentrate on feathering their own nests. (I wonder how long it’s been since Trumka actually got his hands dirty in a mine?) With public employee unions, the situation is even worse, since political leaders are negotiating with the public’s money, not their own, and thus have less incentive to worry about the economic consequences, which may not come about until years later. (I posted a good video explaining this last March.) Combine a labor cartel with control over other people’s money, and you have a recipe for what we see so often at the local, state, and federal levels: a kickback scheme.

It may not be illegal, but it surely is corrupt.

via Jazz Shaw

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Felony Stupid: Gunwalker guns now showing up at US crimes

July 3, 2011

Having just posted a video about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it’s fitting that this post should be an example of chickens coming home to roost. It seems that some of the guns the BATF allowed to “walk” into Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious are coming back to be used here:

For months the ABC15 Investigators have been searching through police reports and official government documents. We’ve discovered assault weapons linked to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ controversial “Fast and Furious” case strategy have turned up at crime scenes in Glendale and Phoenix communities.

(…)

Weapons linked to the strategy have been turning up at dangerous and deadly crime scenes near both sides of the border, including the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed last December.

The ABC15 Investigators uncovered documents showing guns connected to at least two Glendale criminal cases and at least two Phoenix criminal cases also appear in the ATF’s Suspect Gun Database, a sort-of watch list for suspicious gun sales.

All four cases involve drug-related offenses. In one Glendale police report dated July 2010, police investigators working with DEA agents served search warrants at homes near 75th and Glendale avenues in Glendale, and 43rd and Glendale avenues in Phoenix as part of a “large scale marijuana trafficking” investigation.

Police investigators reported they “obtained information that members of the (trafficking) organization were using the homes…as stash houses used to store large amounts of marijuana temporarily.”

They reported finding hundreds of pounds of marijuana, more than $63,000 in U.S. currency and three guns inside the homes. One of the recovered weapons, a Romarm/Cugir WASR-10 rifle, appeared in an official ATF Suspect Gun Summary document in November 2009, proving agents knowingly allowed the suspicious gun sale, months before the weapon turned up at the crime scene.

In a separate Glendale Police Department case, dated November 2010, detectives discovered “bulk marijuana and weapons” inside a residence near 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale. Investigators recovered nearly 400 pounds of drugs and several firearms from the home.

One of the recovered weapons, another Romarm/Cugir WASR-10 rifle, appeared in an official ATF Suspect Gun Summary document in February 2010.

Check out the ABC 15 report and video for more incidents of Gunwalker guns showing up in Arizona. And if they are in Arizona, you can bet they’ll be turning up elsewhere in the US. Keep in mind that at least two US federal agents have been killed with Gunwalker guns, and roughly 150 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians. I fear it’s only a matter of time before more people are killed on this side of the border, with weapons provided by your United States government.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been holding hearings on Gunwalker; it was he who coined the phrase “felony stupid.” As his investigations and those of Senator Grassley (R-IA) continue, that word “felony” may well become more than an expression of exasperation.

LINKS: Previous posts about Operation Fast and Furious.

via Ed Morrissey

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)