Remember the hilarious response of state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman to the justified outrage when West Virginians found out about her and her fellow justices’ lavish use of taxpayer funds to make themselves more comfortable at our expense?
“We were kind of busy being judges and not paying attention to administrative things,” she offered as an explanation.
Evidently, we were supposed to accept that lame excuse and agree that we’d be fiscally irresponsible, too, if we were judges.
Workman was impeached by the House of Delegates last year, but succeeded in forestalling her Senate trial by appealing to – the very same court on which she sat (properly recusing herself for that decision).
House Resolution 202 contained more than a dozen articles of impeachment, most focusing on extravagant spending by justices for renovations to their chambers. One article cited all of them for maladministration and lack of oversight. Another singled out Workman and Robin Davis for overpaying senior status judges (in violation of state law).
The refurbishment of Workman’s office cost taxpayers $111,000, including more than $8,000 for a couch. Meanwhile, two antique sofas belonging to Workman were stored rent-free in a Supreme Court warehouse for up to 20 years.
If Workman was too busy being a judge to pay attention to administrative things, maybe she was also too busy being a landlady to notice that she was overcharging the Public Employee Grievance Board to use her former law office as their headquarters.
According to Zillow.com estimates, the board has for at least three years paid Workman $90,000 annually in rent, nearly twice the going rate for comparable buildings: $7,500 per month versus $3,850.
One wonders how Workman got board members to agree to such a bad deal, but agree they did, so they’ve only got themselves to blame. They came to their senses last month, however, and decided to move their offices from Workman’s building to another location that will cost $30,000 less per year to rent.
Public employees should file a grievance against the grievance board.