Lawmaker From Booming Nevada to Head House Civil Service Panel

The civil service subcommittee is part of the House Government Reform Committee, which Davis chairs. The subcommittee deals with an array of issues -- including federal employee and retiree benefits, federal pay and agency reorganizations.
"Davis thinks [Porter is] the perfect member to handle the vital, sensitive matters confronting the civil service," committee spokesman David Marin said.
The subcommittee has been without a chairman since August, when Rep. Jo Ann S. Davis (R-Va.) resigned to take a seat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Porter serves on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In Congress, he has sponsored legislation to create "back to work" accounts that the unemployed can use to cover expenses during job hunts, such as child care and transportation. He has pushed the Department of Homeland Security to improve its consultation with the tourism industry on security matters.
Parts of Las Vegas are in Porter's district. So are Henderson, one of the nation's fastest-growing cities in the 1990s, and Boulder City, built for workers helping construct the Hoover Dam. The district also includes Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon.
Porter has served in the Nevada Senate and as a City Council member and mayor of Boulder City. At the state and local level, Porter has worked on school construction, environmental preservation in southern Nevada and prescription drug benefits for the elderly. The Almanac of American Politics describes Porter as "a consensus-building moderate."
Porter, 49, was born in Humboldt, Iowa, and attended Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa. He began his career as an insurance agent. Aides said Porter enjoys music (he keeps a electronic keyboard in his office) and outdoor activities (in October 2003, he ran in the Marine Corps Marathon).
AFGE to Rally
The regulation isn't out, but the protest is on.
More than 600 members of the American Federation of Government Employees will be streaming into Washington this weekend for an annual legislative conference and a Tuesday morning march on Capitol Hill to protest Pentagon plans to change civil service pay and personnel rules in the Defense Department.
Scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday on the Pentagon plan are John Gage, president of AFGE; John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO; Ron Ault, president of the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department; Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers; David Holway, president of the National Association of Government Employees; and Richard Brown, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.
The proposed regulation, which would likely curb union activities at Defense, will be released this month, administration officials said. A coalition of unions representing Defense employees plans to file a lawsuit to stop the pay and personnel changes, AFGE said.
Robert P. Clark, chief of financial product support for the U.S. Courts, retired Jan. 3 after more than 33 years of federal service.
Norman R. Mau, a budget analyst with the office of the assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management, retired Jan. 3 after 35 years of federal service.
Jeffrey M. Weber, associate commissioner for management and chief financial officer at the Food and Drug Administration, retired yesterday after 34 years of federal service. He spent 29 years at the Justice Department and five years at the FDA.
Talk Shows
Zack Gaddy, director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, will be the guest on "The Business of Government Hour" at 9 a.m. tomorrow on WJFK radio (106.7 FM).
"Diversity and Black History Month" will be the topic on the Imagene B. Stewart call-in program at 8 a.m. Sunday on WOL radio (1450 AM).

Lawful Arrest
By Daniel Pulliam
[email protected]
A federal appeals court dismissed an appeal from a Government Printing Office worker alleging unlawful arrest.
Alvin Hardwick, a GPO police officer, arrested Theodore E. Williams, a GPO worker, in January 2001 after a confrontation in the lobby of the agency's headquarters in Washington.
According to Williams, Hardwick confiscated his badge as he was returning to the building after delivering a letter. Hardwick grabbed Williams, who is handicapped and uses a cane, dragged him across the lobby and slammed him head-first into a brass door at the entrance of the GPO police office.
Hardwick disputes this account and denies throwing Williams into the door. He states that Williams refused to show his identification, used profanity and threatened Hardwick with his cane.
After Williams was taken to the GPO police office, Hardwick confiscated Williams' cane and allowed him to go to the medical unit for a checkup. Later, Hardwick and another officer arrested Williams for disorderly conduct, advised him of his rights and took him to a Washington police station, where Williams was detained for several hours and formally charged.
Williams sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on the grounds that his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated along with common law claims. After the court granted a summary judgment against Williams, he appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals arguing that Hardwick could not arrest him because the District of Columbia enacted the disorderly conduct statute under which he was arrested, and should prevent federal officers like Hardwick from being able to make arrests under the federal statute that gives GPO officers the same jurisdiction as local police.
Hardwick argued that it was lawful for him to arrest Williams, because District. police did not encourage him to arrest Williams and that his power to arrest stems from the federal law. The court concluded that federal law allows federal officers to make arrests for violations of D.C. law and that D.C. officials did not encourage Hardwick to arrest Williams.
Theodore E. Williams v. United States of American and Alvin Hardwick, officer, individually and as Government Printing Office Police Officer, U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit #03-5316, Jan. 25, 2005.
Investigate the Investigators
Six Democrats in Congress and two labor unions are calling for an investigation of recent actions they believe could involve civil service violations and the misuse of federal dollars by the Office of Special Counsel and Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch.
The actions under question include Bloch's decision to require 12 senior OSC workers to transfer to field offices or face losing their jobs, opening a Detroit field office and allegations that Bloch used no-bid management consultant contracts and signed a contract with a former boarding school headmaster for unspecified services.
The six members of Congress, Reps. Danny K. Davis, Illinois; Eliot L. Engel, New York; Barney Frank, Massachusetts; Steny Hoyer, Maryland; Edolphus Towns, New York; and Henry A. Waxman, California, wrote in a recent letter to the General Accountability Office that their efforts to learn Bloch's rationale for these actions have been unsuccessful.
Waxman and Davis wrote a letter to Bloch on Jan. 26 requesting that he delay requiring the OSC workers to transfer until their questions could be answered. The original deadline fell on Jan. 16, but after a 10-day delay, seven of the 12 workers decided to leave the agency rather than transfer.
At the same time, Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, expressed concerns that OSC's Hatch Act unit will report for the first time to a political appointee instead of a career senior executive. Mark Roth, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees, said it's ironic that the agency that's entrusted with protecting federal employees from retaliation for whistleblowing is being accused of retaliating against workers.
OSC spokeswoman Cathy Deeds said the change is the culmination of a year of restructuring that has helped reduce the agency's case backlog.
Deeds said the decision to open a Detroit office was the result of an "interactive process with GSA about federal office space in the Midwest."
"They said we could have federal office space in Detroit, which was available immediately, required no build-out costs and was about one-half the cost of space in Chicago," she explained.
Anthony Vergnetti, an attorney for some of the OSC workers who have been asked to transfer, said that a GAO inquiry will help, but more immediate action is necessary. "We were hoping for a little more bipartisan support for a congressional inquiry." By the time a GAO report is complete, he said, the employees will have moved or been fired.

Upholding Social Security: Labor targets Schwab
Author: Marilyn Bechtel
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 02/03/05 11:36
SAN FRANCISCO — The labor movement and community organizations took on the financial institutions backing Social Security privatization as they held noontime demonstrations Jan. 26 in San Francisco and Boston to protest Charles Schwab and Co.’s leading role in trying to open up the system to Wall Street. Demonstrators in the two cities carried signs saying, “Don’t Pick Our Pockets to Line Yours!” They handed out fliers calling Schwab’s backing for the privatization scheme a conflict of interest, and urged people to send Schwab a message on the AFL-CIO website,

Some 100 Boston participants braved freezing weather and a ferocious snowstorm to protest in front of Schwab’s headquarters before and again after visiting the office to deliver a letter addressed to Charles Schwab, demanding the discount brokerage giant drop its support for privatizing Social Security. Demonstrators were joined by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.

In a statement circulated in San Francisco as well as Boston, Galvin called the administration’s plan to introduce personal investment accounts in place of Social Security “a dangerous experiment with our nation’s safety net for working men and women.” Observing that, as secretary of state, he has brought actions against financial services firms for having one set of rules for insiders and another set for others, Galvin added, “Pushing our citizens to trade their future financial security for the risks of the marketplace and the fees that come with it is a great injustice. We need to fix Social Security, not destroy it.”

Among other speakers were Rich Rogers, head of the Greater Boston Labor Council, and Kathleen Casavant, secretary-treasurer of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. In a telephone interview, Casavant said the Massachusetts labor federation would continue to work with the national AFL-CIO around targeting financial institutions in the Boston area. Also involved, she said, are the AARP, Massachusetts Senior Citizens Council, Older Women’s League and others.

In San Francisco, among speakers were California Labor Federation Campaign Director Susan Sachen, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson, Howard Wallace of Senior Action Network, and Howard Cassini of the Gray Panthers.

Schwab is one of the world’s biggest discount brokers and managers of 401(k) retirement accounts. Its profits dropped 64 percent in the last quarter of 2004, and financial commentators have noted that the firm could be bailed out by fees it would derive from privatization of Social Security.

In a related development, the AFL-CIO said last week that two Social Security Administration workers told a Senate committee the Bush administration has instructed SSA employees to tell people Social Security is in crisis and that private investment accounts are the solution.

“Previously, our employees had shared information with the public about Social Security’s financial condition but had never been encouraged to support any particular ‘reform proposal,’” said Steve Kofahl, president of AFGE Local 3937 and regional vice president of the National Social Security Council, an AFGE affiliate which represents workers at SSA.

Debbie Fredericksen, executive vice president of the National Social Security Council, said using SSA resources to advocate political positions is wrong and compromises the integrity and credibility of the Social Security Administration. “The credibility problem becomes even more acute when SSA employees are directed to make political statements that are untrue or exaggerated,” she added.

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