The startling news this past week exposing the illegal hiring practices within Mayor Goodwin’s administration are yet another example of the “above-the-law” mentality that currently rules Charleston City Hall. While Kenny Bass’ investigative report did not fully delineate the particular infractions, it’s obvious that more news is forthcoming as aggrieved parties begin to speak out.
Make no mistake…. the two women in the center of this controversy have remained on the city payroll as “temporary” contract labor employees because of one reason and one reason only; to circumvent the prescribed rules governing the employment of retired Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) recipients. Retired PERS persons who accept employment (after retirement) in another branch of the government that participates in PERS benefits are limited, by law, to compensation not greater than $20,000.00
as retirement income if they are a part-time CITY employee, not contract labor. Otherwise, if they accept full-time employment AS A CITY EMPLOYEE they MUST put their retirement income on hold.
The Goodwin administration circumvented these rules and allowed these two employees unjust compensation by not converting them to “City employee” status after Mayor Goodwin assumed office in January 2019.
The real reason for this ploy becomes more obvious (and egregious) when we realize that these women were past friends and acquaintances of Mayor Goodwin during her tenure as Director of Tourism during Governor Earl Ray Tomlin’s administration at the State House. These women were instrumental in Mayor Goodwin’s campaign for Mayor in 2018 and their employment with the City was nothing more than political payback.
What makes it more nonsensical is the question that begs to be answered….. Why would Mayor Goodwin jeopardize her reputation and time in office over something as trivial as a compensation package for two loyal employees.
Just play by the rules!
The rules are set in stone.
Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s dollars were paid to these two women and to United Talent Agency and for what?
Because they weren’t getting paid enough without cheating? Are you kidding me.
All of the rest of us have to play by the rules. Why don’t they?
The answer is simple and it raises its ugly head every few years as government malfeasance is yet again exposed.
Mayor Goodwin and her team of advisors thought that they were above the law, that they were exceptional and they wouldn’t be caught. It’s so silly and so unnecessary. Is it criminal? Well I sure think so! If it’s not malfeasance then please tell me what it is? It’s abuse of power and in violation of her fiduciary responsibilities and it shouldn’t be tolerated.
It’s my understanding that Mayor Goodwin has attempted to deflect the responsibility for this mess to both her HR department and to the PERS Board but make no mistake, these were conscious decisions made by people desiring to circumvent an established set of criteria that was designed to prevent the very thing that they allowed to happen, at our expense.
As more news of these payroll irregularities come to light we also have to consider that one of these people, Ms. Rene Jones was hired in the position of “Events Coordinator” when in fact there were no events in the time of Covid, and in-fact several employees at the Charleston Convention Center were furloughed without pay for several months while Ms. Jones never missed a paycheck.
In addition to this bombshell, please consider that Ms. Jones also enjoyed a vacation in Hawaii on the taxpayers dime, knowing full well that vacation time was not a benefit commensurate with her contract.
Let me be clear, temporary contract labor employees do NOT accumulate sick leave, vacation time, or holiday pay because they are NOT City employees….they are contract labor, yet both women accumulated and were paid as if they were city employees.
Let’s send a message in November that we’ve “HAD ENOUGH”.
Stop the nonsense Charleston