Rules evaded to give police chief raise
MILWAUKEE—Gov. Scott Walker’s administration gave the Capitol Police chief and his top deputy double-digit pay raises after moving them on paper to fake jobs and then back to their real posts, according to a report published Sunday.
Chief Dave Erwin, who has overseen a crackdown on anti-Walker protesters at the statehouse, got a salary hike of 11.7 percent to $111,067 a year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
His raise was possible only because Walker officials transferred Erwin on Feb. 5 to a ghost position in the Department of Administration. Then, on the same day, he was shuffled back to his real job as head of the Capitol Police force. They took similar steps to skirt civil service salary limits for Deputy Police Chief Dan Blackdeer, whose pay jumped by 14.6 percent, to $96,048, on June 16.
Peter Fox, who served as employment relations secretary under GOP former Gov. Tommy Thompson, said the moves were legal but a “charade” performed for favored employees. Fox said he was basing his comments on what he knew of state practices from his tenure more than a decade ago.
“I believe it was done while I was secretary, but I didn’t like it,” Fox said of such transfers. “It was technically permissible, but in my personal opinion, it violated the spirit of fairness and equity in the civil service system. … For the average civil servant, this kind of thing is not available.”
Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said that since Erwin and Blackdeer are considered civil servants, neither could have received such a large pay increase without the paper transfers. She said both men remained in their police roles and did not work in the jobs to which they were supposedly transferred.
Walker aide Jocelyn Webster said the governor had no hand in authorizing Erwin’s salary increase.
Erwin’s pay increases, Marquis said, reflected the division’s strong performance under his leadership and new duties he took on. Marquis said Blackdeer took on new responsibilities as well, and performed exceptionally in helping ensure the safety of staff and crowds during the massive labor protests of 2011.
Marquis said the raise for Erwin also reflected a mistake made when the Capitol Police chief’s job was posted for candidates with a maximum annual salary of $99,387. The previous chief, Charles Tubbs, had made $111,067 per year. When Erwin was hired on July 23, 2012, he was promised a salary increase because of the posting mistake once he had finished his six-month probation, she said.
Under Erwin, police have stepped up arrests of anti-Walker protesters who don’t have permits.
Marquis said the raises weren’t related to the increased arrests.
“As with other police, they’re there to uphold the law,” Marquis said. “There’s no merit to that allegation.”