A Lesson Trump and the E.P.A. Should Heed

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

A Lesson Trump and the E.P.A. Should Heed

CreditGaby D’Alessandro

In March 1983, President Ronald Reagan asked me to return to Washington to run the Environmental Protection Agency. I had been the E.P.A.’s first administrator, from 1970 to 1973, and over the agency’s first 10 years, it made enormous progress in bringing the country’s worst pollution problems under control despite resistance from polluting industries and their lobbyists. A worried and outraged public had demanded action, and the government responded.

Yet the agency and its central mission came under attack during the 1980 presidential campaign. The Clean Air Act was criticized as an obstacle to growth. The agency was seen as bloated, inefficient, exceeding its congressional mandates and costing jobs. The Reagan administration and its new administrator were going to fix that. Sound familiar?

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The Uses of Outrage

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST

People demonstrating in New York last Monday. CreditHiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Are you angry about the white nationalist takeover of the U.S. government? If so, you are definitely not alone. The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been marked by huge protests, furious crowds at congressional town halls, customer boycotts of businesses seen as Trump allies. And Democrats, responding to their base, have taken a hard line against cooperation with the new regime.

But is all this wise? Inevitably, one hears some voices urging everyone to cool it — to wait and see, to try to be constructive, to reach out to Trump supporters, to seek ground for compromise.

Just say no.

Outrage at what’s happening to America isn’t just justified, it’s essential. In fact, it may be our last chance of saving democracy.

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‘Antiquated Assumptions’ About Federal Pay and Benefits


‘Antiquated Assumptions’ About Federal Pay and Benefits

Image of word 'changes' on a blue background

What are the prospects for a federal employee pay raise in 2018? What changes will occur in the federal employee benefits package in the coming year?

It is too early to be certain, but there are some indications about where changes are likely to happen. Here is a summary.

2018 Pay Raise

There is a belief by many in Congress and the administration that federal benefits are too high and out of step with the private sector. We are being optimistic and assuming there will be a pay raise of some kind in January 2018.

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Meet the Four Republican Lawmakers Who Want to Abolish the EPA

Meet the Four Republican Lawmakers Who Want to Abolish the EPA


President Donald Trump has big changes in store for the Environmental Protection Agency — from slashing $800 million from its funding to cutting back on regulations. But one lawmaker wants to go a step further and abolish the agency altogether.

Image: A coal-fired power plant near Center, North Dakota, in 2008
A coal-fired power plant near Center, North Dakota, in 2008. Tom Stromme / AP
On Feb. 3, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, introduced a bill in the House that would terminate the EPA by the end of 2018.

The bill comes two months after Trump appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the agency — picking an ally of the fossil fuel industry who has long been skeptical of climate change and has filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA.

In addition to Gaetz, here are the Republican sponsors, most of whom cite job creation as their main objective.

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Republican lawmakers face rising anger at town halls

Republican lawmakers face rising anger at town halls

Republican lawmakers hoping for a break from the politically charged atmosphere in Washington, D.C., have instead been met with protests at home.

From California to Florida, liberal activists are bringing the fight to the doorsteps of GOP lawmakers, marching on the streets of their hometowns and making legislators’ lives miserable as they attend meetings and town halls with constituents.

Hundreds of protesters lined the streets of downtown Janesville, Wis., on Saturday — just blocks from the home of Speaker Paul Ryan (R) — to protest President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

In Roseville, Calif., Rep. Tom McClintock (R) needed a police escort to cut through the protesters who demonstrated at his town hall event.

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Life Without Civil Service Protections?

Life Without Civil Service Protections? Ask Georgia

February 6, 2017 

As new OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in consultation with the Director of OPM, prepares a plan for reducing the federal civilian workforce, attention will focus on successful reform models.

Georgia’s civil service reforms are most the extensive of any state government reforms attempted in the past 30 years. They have been in place for more than 20 years, and two of Donald Trump’s cabinet-level appointments have extensive Georgia-related experience.

Tom Price is a current Georgia congressman and former state senator who is slated to head HHS, and George “Sonny” Perdue is a former two-time Georgia governor now nominated to serve as Secretary of Agriculture.


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Removal of Federal Employees for Misconduct or Performance

Removal of Federal Employees for Misconduct or Performance

February 6, 2017 

Hands pointing towards businessman holding head in hands concept for blame, accusations and bullying

A bill in the House of Representatives has 8 co-sponsors. It is called the Merit Act of 2017. The subject is “Removal for misconduct or performance.” It is “an alternative removal for performance or misconduct for Federal employees.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform.

The purpose of the bill is to make it easier to fire a federal employee for misconduct or performance. If passed, it would accomplish that purpose.

What the bill does demonstrate is a belief in Congress that substantial changes are required to bring the federal bureaucracy under control instead of existing as a separate power center.

Some, perhaps many, elected representatives believe the civil service workforce is too entrenched and removal of a federal employee is too difficult. The existing process is time consuming and inefficient. Relatively few federal employees are removed. According to one report, federal employees are infrequently fired. 0.5% of federal employees are fired in a year, including for poor performance and misconduct. That is one-sixth of the private-sector firing rate. (See Average Total Federal Employee Compensation: $123,160)

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February 3, 2017, Letter From President of AFGE Council 238


February 3, 2017

I am writing this letter to make it perfectly clear that at no time can a Federal employee strike against the United States government or the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Such an action would be considered a felony and punishable by a fine under 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 1918.

I remind all Federal employees represented by the National Council of EPA Locals #238, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE Council 238), that when we entered Civil Service, we took not only an oath of office pursuant to 5 U.S.C.§ 3331, but also signed an affidavit pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 3333, that we would not violate 5 U.S.C. § 7311, in which we promised not to strike.

The provision at 5 U.S.C. § 7311 specifically states that “an individual may not … hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if” he or she participates in a strike or even asserts the right to the right to strike against the federal government.

If you strike, or assert your alleged right to strike (which you do NOT have as a Federal employee), or even engage in any activity that may be perceived as a strike, or that might otherwise come under the definition of strike, you will probably be fired, and there will be little to nothing that the union can do to assist you.

Please keep in mind, however, that we are allowed under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute to have information rallies and demonstrations, and we intend to be doing that!

In Solidarity!

John J. O’Grady, President

AFGE Council 238