Furloughs are fashionable these days. Back in November, Big Bill ordered 20,000 state employees to take 5 days off - without pay. All of this sounds good and perhaps for your average administrative assistant, clerk, janitor, mid-level manager (or top-level manager for that matter) or political appointee it's a hell of a lot better than having to look for a new job.
Unfortunately, there are a number of positions affected by Big Bill's unpaid vacations that are important and involve public safety even though they're not employed by police or fire departments. One such position is MVD Hearing Officer.
These MVD judges review the case against the accused drunk driver and determine whether or not they will be allowed to keep their driver's license. Hearings must be held within 90 days or the driver gets to keep their license. Of course if the drive is found guilty, the criminal court may revoke their license regardless of the determination (or lack thereof) of the MVD hearing officer.
The problem is that MVD hearing officers are overworked (and our Eyes tell us underpaid) as it is. There are 11 of them for the entire state and they struggle to keep up with the caseload in the best of times. Now they will be forced to take unpaid leave 5 times before the end of the state's fiscal year at the end of June.
The move makes about as much sense as furloughing firemen or police officers. If MVD hearing officers cannot hear an accused driver's case in the allotted time, they could be sending a driver with a serious problem back out on the street to be picked up again or much worse.
Richardson and his merry band of Democrats are using every trick in the book to attempt to cover a deficit created by their own out-of-control spending. They're even looking at borrowing the money!
The truth is the Governor and the Legislature need a 12 step program for themselves. The first step is to admit you've got a problem. The second step is to identify the root cause and change the behavior. Richardson and his cohorts won't admit they've got a problem much less make an effort to fix the problem and in the case of the MVD hearing office - they're actually putting the public in danger.