What’s our dear friend Bill Walker up to these days? I’m glad you asked.
I originally reported on July 19th that Walker’s hand-picked, uncertified sign language interpreter was enrolling in classes at UALR to obtain her certification. Enrolling was apparently the right grammatical tense, although it should have seemed inaccurate at the time.
According to KATV, Walker told state legislators at the personnel hearing that his hire, Clara Taylor, was already enrolled at UALR. But it turns out this was not true:
Two days ago State Workforce Director Bill Walker told a room full of lawmakers that a state employee hired to interpret sign language was enrolled in a college course to better learn that skill.
Turns out…she wasn’t.
A day after Mr. Walker told lawmakers this employee was enrolled in a sign language course at U.A.L.R…she did in fact enroll.
This is an important development: not only were state lawmakers misled, but they were misled in a way that likely made them more inclined to let Ms. Taylor remain employed. If I were a lawmaker, knowing (or thinking) that Ms. Taylor was already enrolled and state tax dollars had already been spent on her certification would certainly make me more inclined to let her retain her employment. (See: loss aversion.)
As I reported a few weeks ago, the estimated cost for Ms. Taylor’s certification, according to UALR, is just over $36,000.
Despite many new developments, this is a story that continues to live. My reporting on the topic continues to garner comments from members of the deaf community, even in recent days.
And Mr. Walker seems to know this is not the end of the story as well, going on a listening tour of the deaf community a few weeks ago. But it is less clear what action Walker plans to take in order to resolve the situation. While KATV does mention at the end of their report that Walker is considering changing the job description of the position, that would be a ridiculous substitute for actually correcting his error and firing Ms. Taylor, particularly when anything short of her removal and replacement means the needs of the deaf community will remain unmet.
If KATV’s report is correct and Bill Walker lied to state lawmakers, he should be removed from his position as well. This conduct is unacceptable for state officials, particularly when such large amounts of taxpayer dollars are hanging in the balance.