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Government in Action



More California Money "Management": The Los Angeles Unified School District pays almost $10 million a year to about 160 teachers and staff who are forbidden to do any work -- those subject to discipline but whose cumbersome "due process" and appeals take years to carry out. One teacher, Matthew Kim, fired by the school board in 2002 for allegedly sexually harassing students and colleagues, still receives his $68,000 a year, including benefits, and (by union contract interpretation) cannot be called on to perform clerical or other non-"professional" duties during the appeals, according to a May Los Angeles Times report.

Because of what an April Boston Globe report called "a decades-old interpretation of the state's militia laws," state government employees who are also members of the Massachusetts National Guard and who go on active duty are paid much more money if deployed at home than in Iraq or Afghanistan. State law requires those Guardsmen on domestic duty to be paid both for their state job and their military duty while Guardsmen in the war zones collect only the higher of the two salaries.

Britain's Local Governments Are Afraid of Everything: The Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service issued rules recently requiring the use of long poles to test high-up fire alarms because letting the firefighters use stepladders might lead to injuries.

The South Kesteven District Council decided in May to no longer hoist the oversized Flag of St. George outside Bourne Town Hall on St. George's Day -- because of the "risk" involved in using an 8-foot ladder on a plinth above a spoked gate.

Small-Town Government "People Skills": E-mails from Smithfield (Pa.) Township Supervisor Christine Griffin, published in May in the Pocono Record, confirmed the long-time complaints of critics about her lack of diplomacy. In one official e-mail, Griffin wrote: "Don't you dare waste my time with your (expletive), you lying cheating son of a (expletive), sneaky back door (expletive) nut (expletive) sucker." In another: "(N)o cement boots for me! Nice try though, a real drama rama! Reminder: I am the quintessential professional! (D)ecorum and common sense are my bylaws!"

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