Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Star Wants Chaplain's Job Ended

The Star doesn't use the words "ghost employment", but the newspaper does say in an editorial today that the Rev. Michael Latham is neither qualified nor available to do the job as as state chaplain for FSSA. The newspaper also asks the Inspector General to investigate why Latham was hired in the first instance. The newspaper editorial reads, in part:

The bigger question is whether Latham can fulfill his obligations to the state as chaplain. Judging from a recent Star report, he's not even qualified to hold the job. Nor does he seem to have time to do the work. FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob not only needs to replace Latham; he also should explain why he got so little in return for $100,000 in tax dollars.

Latham's lack of a college degree isn't a problem in itself; plenty of clergymen run churches without benefit of a sheepskin. But the fact that FSSA hired him even though he was unqualified to serve a similar role in one of its own hospitals is disconcerting.

In fact, the whole process suggests that politics might have played a role in Latham's hiring. Roob denies that, despite Latham's previous campaigning for Gov. Mitch Daniels. But what else could justify such poor judgment?

By failing to get the clergy-based counseling program up and running after its debut last October, it's questionable whether Latham can apply his real-world experience -- a reason Roob cites for hiring him -- to operations. If anything, the lack of success on this score, along with the fact that Latham continues to hold two other jobs -- hardly gives taxpayers confidence in this deal.

Latham may be good at his other jobs, which include running the Fort Wayne branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But he failed as chaplain. An investigation by the state's Inspector General is justified to determine how Latham got the job in the first place. The agency might also want to think about whether the chaplain's role is truly needed.

Daniels often says government should be run more like a business. But what business could survive long by setting up deals like this one? This is bad business, and that does not make good government.

Somebody in the Daniels administration should figure out this isn't worth the fight. I can already see this being an effective 30-second campaign spot by his Democratic opponent next year to undermine his argument that he's cleaning up state government and making it more efficient. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette weighs in with its negative opinion of Latham and his job as well.


Anonymous said...

Excellent Star work, and good posts, Gary. But here's why it won't likely be a commercial:

The black church community and the Democratic Party, especially in the state's urban centers, have a long delicate tight-rope-walking history. It teeters and totters between solid community activism and cash payouts, jobs for friends and government money for special "programs."

I know two black clergy in Indy, who lean Democratic, who are already screaming bloody murder that a fellow clergyman is being crucified.

At the end of the day, the color of freedom and oppportunity, is green. Make no mistake about it. In the black clergy community, that cuts 90% Democratic. But not entirely. And green rules regardless of party.

This is actually smart Daniels politics. He won't win much of the vote in that community, but he'll muffle some criticism that might otherwise come his way.

(Wilson Shield Activated)

As a matter of fact, strange as it may seem, if Dems win next year, look for multiple applicants for this job.

Such is the state of some urban Dem political dilemnas.

My God hang his head and sighs.

Wilson46201 said...

In 1984 Jesse Jackson won the Democratic primary in Marion County -- some old time Democrats still haven't gotten over it yet.

Russ said...

Has this pastor never heard of "Thou shalt not steal"? Apparently he is not spiritually inclined to quit the job on his own...