Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown Day Three

Today begins the third (full) day of lockout for me; with a nasty blizzard to match my mood.

I am one of the more than 8,500 proud Federal public servants who live and work in our fine state.

My office in Rapid City, which hosts some 35 Federal scientists and support staff that study and protect natural resources across the State is shuttered. I am not allowed to visit my desk, or even power up my GFE ("government-furnished equipment"), that is, my work laptop, until a continuing resolution is passed and signed.

It was encouraging to see even the South Dakota liberal media see this "defiance" from Republicans in Congress for what it is: a tantrum held in opposition to the legislative process.

To make things worse, given the current appetite for austerity (despite that the deficit is dramatically dropping every year), it seems unlikely we will be paid for our forced unemployment.

Hey, I'm a smart guy, why can't I just get a real job?

  • I do have a real job. The Speaker of the U.S. House is keeping me from it by not allowing an up or down vote on a clean continuing resolution. Is this that complicated?
  • It's not our fault our income has been taken away.
  • We are left with very limited ways to replace that income during a shutdown.
    • We are prevented by ethics rules from taking outside employment related to our Federal jobs. There are exceptions, but they have to be approved by our supervisors and the agency Ethics Office, which, you guessed it, are locked of their offices as well.
    • Even if it were allowed, who is going to hire me for said skilled job when I could be called back at any time, when the moment finally comes when the Speaker of the US House of Representatives decides to, uh, allow an up or down vote on a clean continuing resolution?
  • The cumulative economic hit from about one percent of South Dakota's population having their income (and spending) is big. It's even worse in other states.
  • Lastly, I have been fortunate to be able to do some side work (unrelated to my Fed job of course), but of course at a small fraction of my regular pay. It's not enough to meet my expenses.
Whether our pay is docked or not, this shutdown is very bad for America, South Dakota, and Robbinsdale. You can bet this level of uncertainty is docking my household spending and that of the many other Feds in our fair city -- the ripple effects in our local South Dakota economies are going to hit Main Street hard here.

Oh, but it will be the President's fault because uh, freedom.

What happened to Republicans that promised simple up or down votes? They seem to have checked their brains, and their sense of fairness, at the door.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the Mall security scare, the WaPo editorial board really laid it out well:

“We all owe the Capitol Police a debt of gratitude for their work every day; no finer examples of professionalism & bravery,” tweeted House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). That’s true. But Mr. Boehner owes them, and the rest of the federal workforce, more than a 140-character message of thanks. He owes them a paycheck; he owes them a budget; he owes them an apology.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Help recall Bill Clayton - Saturday @ BHBagels

Do you remember Bill Clayton? He's the Rapid City Councilman who is an embarrassment to himself,  his city Ward, our fair City, and frankly the whole State.

Many citizens of Rapid City agree, and, my friends, here's a chance to do something about it:

Sign Petition to Recall Clayton at Black Hills Bagels on Saturday 
Gary Brown will be at Black Hills Bagel at 913 Mount Rushmore Rd this Saturday, May 4 from 9 to 12 to collect signatures on the petition to recall Alderman Bill Clayton. Anyone that can vote in Rapid City elections can sign the recall petition. 
You can also call the Petition Hotline to find other locations to sign the petition! CALL: (605) 388-2749.  
The petition says: 
The people of Rapid City expect their leaders to display good judgment in their interactions with the public, their constituents, and their colleagues. We believe William Clayton has repeatedly violated this expectation and fails to take responsibility for his actions. He has displayed a pattern of conduct unbecoming of an elected official, including comments made to a reporter on August 29, 2012.

Rapid City has 60 days to get 6,000 signers. If we don't succeed, we'll have to read more outrageous stories until 2014. Clayton is bad for our city -- he should go. Please consider signing the petition.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pierre provides another "not The Onion, really" moment

As Dave Barry famously puts it, "I'm not making this up":

(Mitchell Republic, Feb 9: Medicaid expert: 'Never been a decision thrust upon the states more consequential'

[Medicaid consultant] Vernon Smith [told the Legislature (did we pay for this?) that]the decision ultimately is “political” whether to accept the federal government’s offer for expansion of Medicaid to cover adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level....

Not so political as moral, especially if it's your family that needs the coverage they cannot afford.

Smith said South Dakota’s Medicaid program is extremely well-administered and said the recent audit that found a zero error rate on Medicaid eligibility was “remarkable.”

“I can’t tell you how rare this is. It just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s something to celebrate.”

Zero? Sounds to me like it isn't something to celebrate but something to question.

Zero. Really?

Vernon Smith's organization, Health Management Associates, has had some interesting clients besides our one-party state government. These include helping the State of Texas' Texas Medicaid Managed Care procurement, which, as all appreciators of Texas's health care system knows, has resulted in the highest rate of uninsured care in among all the states.

I believe Bob Mercer missed the really interesting story here. Who is this guy? Did we, the taxpayers, pay our hard-earned money for his sage advice that screwing the poor out of the benefits of ACA is purely a political decision?