Retiring PLCB CEO shouldn't be hired back
Pennsylvania lawmakers long have suffered from separation anxiety. Every two years at least some legislators who lose their seats in elections are transferred to the legislative staff payroll, at least temporarily, to advise, consult and otherwise consume public money while building their pension values.
The executive branch at least has rules restricting the practice. An executive who retires is supposed to be brought back only to help an agency deal with an emergency.
Whereas the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board conceivably could face an "emergency" in the form of Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to turn over the enterprise to the private sector, that's something that Joe Conti - the agency CEO who will retire as of Saturday - can't resolve. It's a matter for the Legislature and the governor.
Yet, after his retirement from his $156,000 a year post - which he left the Legislature six years ago to fill - Conti will be hired back by the PLCB for 95 days this year at $80.16 an hour.
The state Office of Administration signed off on Conti's return, even though it defines an emergency as "a serious impairment of service to the public" that would result from an employee's absence. As an example, the Associated Press cited the state's recall from retirement of workers to process unemployment claims during the height of the Great Depression.
Even before Corbett came up with a plan to privatize wine and liquor sales, he had said that the agency's CEO position should be eliminated. It was created by Corbett's predecessor, former Gov. Ed Rendell, and the agency has three full-time commissioners. It's all the more curious, given those policy positions, that the Office of Administration would approve Conti's return.
The office should reconsider whether the PLCB has an actual emergency, and rescind its approval.