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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/4/12

Restoring My Rights by Leaving a State Job

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Wade Fulmer
Restoring My Rights
by Leaving a State Job
By Wade Fulmer
After almost eleven years with the SC state lottery I am leaving my state job. I believe that my rights to participate in our democracy are sacrificed for and are sacred. They must not be denied by the politics of bureaucracy or intimidation.
Initially there was no policy of denial of staff level workers to our rights of democracy. Policies excluded only agency executives and commissioners positions as they deal with or are appointed by politicians.
In the fall of 2004 nearing the election, the department's director sent a memorandum via HR to all regarding political participation. "While I think it is in the best interest of the Education Lottery for its employees to refrain from partisan political activities, it would be inappropriate for SCEL to suggest that a person cannot exercise his or her constitutional right to participate in our democratic process". Two years later, in March, as a new election season began, the director sent the same memo to all employees.
However, on February 9, 2009, prior to the director's April acceptance of a lottery position in Arkansas, an employee manual was revised to include the section "Non-Partisan Political Operation". The manual was presented in small groups. No presenter mentioned the extensive restraints on all employees. Employees would be fired if they filed for elective office or if a petition effort on their behalf was initiated; one may not serve as an employee, officer, or delegate to a political party at any level; nor serve on a campaign or committee to further the campaign of or to seek the defeat of a candidate, nor allow one's name to be used to assist or defeat a candidate; nor host or sponsor a fund-raising event for a candidate; nor coordinate political activities on behalf of an elected official, his staff, or a political party.
In 2009, a board member was then named interim director. After meeting with me, he emailed that he had spoken with HR and Legal and the non-partisan policy would be an"ongoing conversation".
In September, a former board member was named director. A small board "committee" acted quickly though there were managers who had been with the lottery since 2001.
After three years there has been no communication and correction to allow workers to fully participate in America's democratic process. Yet, the employee manual was dated as revised in March, 2011.
Eight more South Carolina guardsmen have been killed or wounded in June, 2012, serving for our freedoms and our rights of democracy -- while also recently, the lottery cruised Lake Murray, 4% pay increases were announced before a state budget was yet to be passed, staff were told that the agency has known since 2009 of increased video poker and other gaming that deny education revenue, there would be less staff if sales are not maintained, and that employees are not to talk about Arkansas lottery issues.
What must workers, families, our military in need of livelihoods and care do to be allowed our rights of participation in democracy? We must demand and utilize those rights now. The halls, sessions, politics and corridors of shame must end and true representation begin for the needs and for the rights of the people. Isn't it time?
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Veterans and Citizens Care Advocate for 30 years. Activist for Care, Ending Wars, Accountability since 2003. Member: Veterans for Peace, CodePink Associate, Military Families Speak Out, Vietnam Veterans of America(Life Member) Born and raised in (more...)
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