Arkansas journalists are paying lots of attention to the scandal surrounding state Treasurer Martha Shoffner (and rightfully so), but they shouldn’t overlook the fallout from Bill Walker’s hiring of an unqualified friend to serve as a sign language interpreter for the state. As we previously reported, the interpreter has since been removed from that position and shifted into another position in the agency.
The Personnel Services Committee has been reviewing the hire. They met yesterday. Here’s some video:
A few points of interest:
In the video, you will hear Carl Daugherty say that Walker was deeply involved in the hiring of Clara Taylor, the interpreter in question. Daugherty is thus publicly contradicting Walker, who has repeatedly maintained that he had no involvement in the hiring process of his old friend Clara Taylor. You can see this exchange around the 7:00 mark of the video.
Around the 10:00 mark, Representative Debbie Hobbs begins questioning Daugherty and Robert Trevino about Pamela Harris, who serves as an HR administrator for the agency. In the internal review of the hire, Harris said Walker was deeply involved in the hiring of the interpreter, despite Walker’s public comments to the contrary. She also said Walker wanted to hire Clara Taylor because the interpreter field was “closed group, that no black applicants were being hired, and that he was going to change that practice.” Harris has now announced her resignation, presumably under pressure from Walker.
Rep. Hobbs asked Trevino directly if Harris was encouraged to resign. His response is telling: a long pause, some stammering, and then “I don’t want to get to talking too much about personnel issues, but I don’t want to avoid your question either.” Hobbs asked Trevino again. His response: a very deep, audible sigh, and then he asks for advice from an OPM representative, citing his desire to avoid “legal problems.” You can see this exchange around the 11:20 timestamp.
Walker’s attendance at the hearing was requested. He declined to attend. His attendance will be requested again at the next meeting and I will be there–with a better camera.
Trevino, Walker’s Commissioner for Rehabilitative Services, is also stepping down to a lower position within the agency. I suspect it is only a matter of time before Carl Daugherty is out of a job as well–in fact, it looks like he has already been removed from the ACE website. He was there last week.
Other events from the hearing deserve further explanation and analysis: I will provide that
later this afternoon tomorrow. For now, enjoy the video.