News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2007


Senator’s examples both good and bad

On the issue of public employees serving in the Legislature, state Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, is part of both the problem and the solution.

Mr. Glover teaches history at Mary Montgomery High School in Semmes. We’re sure his service as a legislator informs his teaching, but he has a class attendance pattern that we hope he would not tolerate in any student.

When the Legislature is in session, he works at school half a day Tuesday and then misses Wednesday and Thursday. He expects to miss 31 days of class this school year because of the Legislature. Student teachers and a retired history teacher fill in.

Unlike legislators who work for state colleges, Mr. Glover is not double-dipping financially. His teacher pay is docked $261 a day for each day he misses. He expects to net $35,000 this year from teaching; his legislative compensation is about $50,000 annually, maybe more, thanks to a recent pay raise.

Another difference between Mr. Glover and some colleagues is that he was a public school teacher before he got elected to the Legislature.

Colleges hired some of the others after the voters put them in office. Having control over college funding apparently made the lawmakers more employable.

We say Mr. Glover is part of the solution because he supports a proposed ban on legislators holding other state jobs, and says if it passes he will quit his teaching job.

Those priorities are right. He’s putting the good of the state ahead of his own personal interests. We wish more legislators would do so.

Debate on this issue often focuses on double dipping — drawing two or more public salaries at the same time. Double dipping is important, and so is missing work. But the larger question is loyalty. The Bible says no one can serve two masters. Holding two public jobs is a conflict of interest.

That’s why Gov. Bob Riley is right in wanting “to prohibit it at all levels ... any elected official working at any state government agency,” in the words of his spokesman Jeff Emerson. .

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