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Putting Criminals Back on Your Payroll

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Jack Dolan has this story in the LA Times about appalling actions by California's State Personnel Board.
When thousands of dollars belonging to elderly residents of a veterans home went missing, police set out to catch the thief. A video camera they hid showed nurse's aide Linda Riccitelli creeping into a 93-year-old man's room and sticking her hand in a dresser drawer stashed with bait money.

Investigators confirmed the cash was gone and the video showed that no one else had opened the drawer.

Prosecutors charged Riccitelli with burglary, and the Department of Veterans Affairs fired her. To most, it seemed like an open-and-shut case. But a little-known state agency that rules on employee discipline saw things differently. It ordered Riccitelli re-hired, with three years' back pay because, they said, the evidence was "circumstantial."

The board has reversed dozens of terminations in recent years, turning the employees' time off into the equivalent of long, paid vacations. Among the cases: a mentally disturbed prison doctor fired for mistreating inmates; a psychiatric hospital aide fired for allegedly striking a severely disabled patient with a shoe, and a prison mechanic who requested two-months' leave to address "family issues" while he was in jail for beating his wife.

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This Board has jurisdiction over unionized state employees only.

Like the Long Island Railroad scandal where nearly 90 % of employees where approved for disability, this is another exhibit in the increasingly compelling case against unionization of public employees.

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