Government Can Afford to Raise the Bar (Editorial)

Four years after the official end of the Great Recession and the U.S. unemployment rate stubbornly sits at a much too high rate. That’s the bad news.

The good news? Surely an economy like this means it’s still a buyers’ (read: employers’) job market and employers, including government, can afford to hire only the very best — the most qualified, the most experienced, the most creative, the hardest working, the most ethical.

Apparently not.

Otherwise, why would Harold Boldt, the city manager of Texarkana who left that job under pressure in March — although with a parting gift of a $162,000 settlement — assume it’s dandy that he apply for the job he was just forced out of? (Confused? Read the this week's story by Arkansas Business’ Luke Jones.)

And why would the Texarkana board of directors have hired Boldt in the first place? After all, as Jones’ story notes, in 1995, Boldt was forced out as director of finance for the city of Columbia, Mo., and in 1999, the city of Little Rock — after many problems and much controversy — also cut Boldt loose.

The Little Rock controversy included claims that Boldt had inflated his resume and an investigation by the prosecuting attorney into why the city’s finance department made investments that were at the time banned by Arkansas law.

We’re not opposed to giving people second chances, but doing it at the taxpayers expense is another thing entirely. (And why can’t we get paid to go away?)

All of which brings us to the latest Arkansas Scholarship Lottery folly: the guilty plea by a former security official Remmele Mazyck to charges that he stole tickets worth nearly $500,000 in winnings.

A lot of fine folks are in need of jobs even now, four years in to the recovery. Government agencies can do better.