Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Health & Safety Jobs as Political Spoils: Maybe this is why we have so many problems...

Generally, you want someone in charge of workplace safety issues who knows something about workplace safety -- especially in a county engineer's office which has responsibility for capital projects, road and bridge improvements, snow and flood response -- all of which involve a number of potentially dangerous jobs.

So, I found the following article to be of some interest:
Former judge heads governmental affairs

AKRON - Former Akron Municipal Court Judge Brian Stormer is the newest employee in the county engineer's office.

Engineer Greg Bachman hired Stormer to be in charge of governmental affairs. Stormer, who began his job Monday, will be paid $73,900 annually.

Bachman said Stormer will be in charge of coordinating information between the engineer's office and the cities, villages and townships in the county. He also will handle the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues and will assist in putting out the department's annual report and quarterly newsletter.

Stormer was appointed to the municipal bench earlier this year when Judge Marvin Shapiro moved to county common pleas court. He lost his bid to retain the seat in the November election, when he was defeated by Democrat Annalisa Stubbs Williams.

Bachman and Stormer are Republicans.
Now I would be the last to argue that someone can't learn a new trade -- even late in life. But I don't see much evidence here that Stormer has worked to learn about occupational safety and health issue after a long career as a corporate lawyer. Aren't there plenty of unemployed safety experts out there who are looking for work? Is health and safety an appropriate place for political patronage?

And even if he won't be personally overseeing the construction sites or the trenches or the bridge repair, will he be responsible for monitoring the supervisors' safety practices or hiring contractors to do the work safely? Will he be responsible for assuring that county contracts and county workplans have meaningful assurances of safe working conditions and the resources to make sure it happens?

On the other hand, to the extent we have county employees doing the work, Stormer may not have much to worry about. Public employees aren't even covered by OSHA in Ohio.