Following up Sunday’s exposé of skewed salaries in the Attorney General’s office, the Birmingham News editorializes today that Troy King should be concerned about public perception of his favoritism.
Just what kind of law firm is Attorney General Troy King running?
Clearly, one that promotes and generously pays those fortunate enough to be in the inner circle. As a story in Sunday’s Birmingham News points out, King has aggressively rewarded his favored employees with better titles and bigger paychecks.
It’s likely that King will have some unhappy employees in the wake of Sunday’s disclosures — that’s assuming staffers didn’t already know about them.
“It’s certainly not unprecedented,” said E.J. “Mac” McArthur, the head of the Alabama State Employees Association. “There obviously is some flexibility for elected officials and their staffs.”
McArthur said he has received no complaints about King’s hiring practices. But he said he’s seen agencies’ morale plummet when political appointees’ pay is “out of kilter with those salaries paid in the merit system” or when their pay is increased while others go without routine raises.
“That’s like taking a wet mop and slapping everyone in the face with it,” McArthur said.
The editorial writer doesn’t imply that King is doing anything illegal. Rewarding loyalty is an integral part of our political system, and if we tried to outlaw it, politicians and their supporters would continue to find ways to circumvent the rules. (Yes, I’m cynical. Also realistic.)
But when the state’s top law enforcement official makes it clear that political loyalty is substantially more valuable than qualifications, experience, or job performance — well, then we have the US Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not.