This is old news, but I am just getting around to it…
On April 24, 2006, the Texas State Employees Union Executive Committee endorsed Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Governor. As many people know the endorsement did not sit well with many members, and had little effect on the AFL-CIO who endorsed Democrat Chris Bell.
The TSEU Executive Committee cited three reasons to favor Strayhorn.
1. Carole Keeton Strayhorn has made commitments on key TSEU issues. Among them: she has opposed the Convergys/AccessHR contract and the Accenture/IEE contract, and will work with us to defeat them, and she will oppose the privatization of state services. She also has committed to work to include university employees in any statewide pay raise while she is governor.
2. As Comptroller she has already shown her willingness to stand up for state employees by forcing HHSC and its contracted HR system to honor the procedures established in state law for state employee organization membership. AccessHR had stopped accepting TSEU membership forms until Comptroller Strayhorn got involved.
3. WE NEED A NEW GOVERNOR! Carole Keeton Strayhorn is our best chance to move Rick Perry out of the Governor’s Mansion. She is the only challenger who has a real statewide campaign and a campaign fund that will allow her to take on the Perry machine.
Strayhorn has stood up for state employees, but so far she has not been successful. AG Abbott disagreed when she sought to restrict the release of personal and identifying information after the DMN filed a request for the names, birth dates, and salaries of the state’s employees.
In response to TSEU’s endorsement Strayhorn said in a press release, “State employees are the unsung heros of the state. They stay on the job year after year with their pay stagnant, with cuts in their health and retirement plans, with skyrocketing workloads as their agencies are downsized and their assignments are upsized.”
However, her previous actions show that she’s
pro-privatization the Grandma of privitization and has stepped on some state employees a time or two. She seems to have been most brazen during her run for and freshman year as Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander.
In September of 1998, the SAEN reported:
Rylander said she would target the comptroller’s audits to districts that need the most help, such as those that are low-performing academically and financially.
She said these audits should be a catalyst for school districts to provide its taxpayers the best cost savings.
To achieve cost-effectiveness and quality, she suggests districts use the “yellow pages test” for private services to save taxpayer dollars.
“Government should do no job if there is a business in the yellow pages that can do that job better and at a lower cost,” Rylander said.
And in October of the same year, the AP ran a story by Renae Merel:
Ms. Rylander wants to apply the “yellow-pages test” to every state function. “If you can look in the yellow pages and find someone to do it better for cheaper, then that’s the way you should go,” she said.
[Opponent Paul] Hobby says privatization can sometimes be misguided. “What she says is the politically easy answer. Privatization is an intelligent decision in some circumstances, but it’s not a default buzzword,” he said.
In January of 1999, Rylander laid of 60 people with the intention of making her office more efficient and Democrat-free (she denied that part). The Statesman reported:
Boone Taylor, an organizer for the Texas State Employees Union, said the union isn’t surprised by the additional cuts. He added, though, that people who have done a good job in the past should be allowed to stay if they want.
“Unfortunately, TSEU expects more layoffs,” Taylor said.
That same month The Dallas Observer pointed out that Rylander bypassed state hiring laws to bring on the wife of her Chief of Staff and long-time associate John Colyandro. Helena Colyandro was hired directly out of college as the funds marketing manager of the Texas Tomorrow Fund. No one else was interviewed for the position. The Colyandros both resigned months apart. The Weekly also critiques Rylander’s e-Texas initiative:
“It’s time for government to stop competing with the private sector,” she told her Heritage Foundation audience. “E-Texas will be a true public-private partnership using new strategic tools such as activity-based costing, outsourcing, managed competition, and benchmarking the best practices… E-Texas, a medley of 14 task forces of 10 to 15 people each, will recommend to the Legislature areas of government that can be outsourced to the private sector. In that way, Rylander is making good on her campaign promise to apply the Yellow Pages test across state government.
The e-Texas task force to focus on outsourcing is chaired by Bill Hammond, who says his committee will take a thoughtful approach in recommending which services should be shifted to the private sector. Hammond, an advocate of outsourcing, has been president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce since April 1998… Hammond says he expects his so-called competitive government task force to get help from Bill Eggers, a top Rylander aide. Eggers co-authored the 1995 book Revolution at the Roots, which offers glowing accounts of privatization efforts nationally. The book is a bible for outsourcing proponents. Hammond sounds like he prefers that representatives of state employee unions, who have been the most vocal critics of privatization, do not become members of his task force.
TSEU is right about one thing, we do need a new Governor; but Carole Keeton Strayhorn is neither the answer nor the best choice. People can change, but voters are not naïve. Who really thinks a politician will walk away from the trough regardless of her “independence” when she’s already sold out for that last bit of election cash?
TSEU members are right to call this endorsement what it is – unfortunate and short-sighted. In fact, outside of these three promises and her crowing over Perry’s perils, we don’t know what her plan is for all Texans – even the person that answered at her campaign headquarters wasn’t sure.
TSEU also pointed out that Strayhorn’s war chest is bigger than Chris Bell’s and that makes her more viable as a candidate. Texans can’t afford to role the dice because she might have more money. There are just some principals that you don’t walk away from and they are best represented by Texas Democrats all over the state. TSEU and some big Dem donors may have abandoned the party, but I think (hope) they’ll be surprised come November because there’s a Texas Democratic state takeover brewing.