In a fiery speech Wednesday, Sen. Anne Golden denounced employees she said abused the government by claiming excessive overtime.
Golden's anger was inspired by the release earlier Wednesday of a V.I. Inspector General audit revealing that three employees of Public Works' Solid Waste Division were able to quadruple their annual salaries by claiming thousands of hours of overtime pay.
"This is a lack of management and somebody should be fired for it and we continue to do it, blindfolded," Golden said during a Senate Finance Committee budget hearing. "You see why we have problems? The audit report. And it's going to sit on somebody's shelf and we're not going to do anything about it."
"This Legislature has to start putting people behind bars for it," she said.
The audit found the three employees — a supervisor, a litter enforcement officer and a mechanic who was actually allowed to live on DPW property rent-free — were paid a third of the nearly $1.1 million the division spent in overtime in 1997 and 1998.
The supervisor was able to hoist his $23,000 salary to more than $102,000, the enforcement officer increased a $20,574 salary to $82,616, and the mechanic managed to hike his $17,500 salary up to $76,582.
Of one of these employees, Golden said: "Does he sleep, does this guy sleep? Did he take a break? I am sitting here baffled," Golden said. "Maybe we need to call names. People are taking advantage of this thing called government. I want the private sector to grow because that couldn't happen in the private sector. Maybe we ought to be prosecuting people around here because that is abuse and that contributes to our dilemma."
The audit also found that three garbage collectors were absent between half and two-thirds of the time they were scheduled to work. Out of a possible 2,080 work hours, one collector worked only 775 hours in 1997 — an attendance record of 38 percent — and 874 hours in 1998, attaining the slightly higher rate of 42 percent.
Golden said it was clear that rules were being violated somewhere in the government "because the managers are not managing."
Golden's solution: Some managers should be fired.
The government's shoddy financial practices also are dragging down the private sector, Golden said, offering another piece of sarcasm:
"I have a description for this government — runaway government — and I am going to write a book when I'm over with this career of mine in the Senate, and the book is going to be entitled 'How to Successfully Shrink the Private Sector with a Unique, Tried and Proven V.I. Method Called Large Government.'"