I mentioned that TYC conservator Jay Kimbrough announced legislators had approved his plan to fire all workers at TYC with past felonies, but now Sen. John Whitmire, who co-chairs the joint House-Senate reform committee on TYC, now says he doesn't support firing every felon.
So who, then, exactly, gave Kimbrough the OK to fire the 66 workers at TYC with old felonies? A TYC caseworker and Grits reader with a 35-year old felony conviction sent Whitmire the following letter, reprinted with permission:
Dear John Whitmire,Here's a link to the Statesman story from which he's quoting. To his credit, Whitmire responded promptly:
Please review the below quote related to Jay Kimbrough firing TYC employees with felony records who were hired under past TYC policy then terminated without cause.
“Kimbrough had temporarily suspended the terminations last week as he waited for guidance from lawmakers. Some had questioned whether the terminations should be limited to only the most severe charges or whether Kimbrough should exempt workers who had been convicted years ago.
Ultimately, the lawmakers let Kimbrough fire all of them.” Quote from the Austin American Statesman 04-19-2007
I would like to know if you are one of the law makers who let Mr. Jay Kimbrough fire all of the employees at TYC with felony records. It seems some of you had concerns about the mass firing without consideration of time since the conviction, level of offense, age at the time of conviction, and evidence of rehabilitation. Also I would like to know your position on Human Resources Code 61.035 relating to TYC employees being fired for cause only, which would make Mr. Kimbrough’s actions unlawful.
Please supply your stance on this matter by return email. I appreciate you time and consideration.
... it is my opinion that TYC should review each employee with a felony record on a case by case basis. I certainly understand that some very valuable employees could have previous felony records. Thanks for contacting my office regarding this issue.Huh? So, if Whitmire supports "case by case" reviews, which legislators told Kimbrough to fire everyone so situated?
I've argued before this is a foolish policy - the folks implicated in the West Texas scandal weren't felons, and there's no reason to believe firing long-time employees like this fellow would do anything but harm the agency. If it's true that Kimbrough's decision to fire everyone with a felony conviction wasn't approved by key legislators, as he told the Statesman, that cast the matter in a different light - another situation where a well-placed open records request would tell a lot more of the story.