Tuesday, September 04, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Bill Walker needs to go

Former state Sen. Bill Walker of Little Rock runs the state Department of Career Education — not very well — but he may be on his way out after he hired an unqualified lady friend as an interpreter for the deaf.

At the start of the long Labor Day weekend, Walker announced he’d made a mistake when he picked his protege as a sign interpreter. He was hoping no one would notice that he’d been chewed out by Gov. Mike Beebe.

Let’s review Walker’s appointment of lady friend Clara Taylor: According to one report, “Taylor was not certified as an interpreter, scored second lowest among nine applicants and failed to translate a simple video in either of two types of sign language.” Just the person for the job to help the deaf.

Still, Walker says he thought she was the best qualified because she signed for the deaf at his church and was a contract worker at his funeral home, whatever that means.

After the deaf community complained to Gov. Beebe, Walker started ducking for cover and put Taylor in another position in his department.

Combine Walker’s $140,393 salary with Taylor’s $35,319 pay, and you’re talking $175,000 a year wasted on these two dubious state employees. Multiply that sad scenario 100 times across the state bureaucracy, and you’re talking $17 million a year wasted. We know of several schools that would benefit from that amount of state aid.

Neither Walker nor Taylor are qualified, but in Arkansas, it’s usually not what you know but whom you know. Walker knows Gov. Beebe very well — they served in the Senate together — which is how the funeral director became the head of career education. Maybe he could teach embalming to the unemployed.

The right thing for everybody would be for Walker to step down. If he doesn’t resign, Beebe should name a qualified successor to run the department.