By David Mahoney
The Annual Convention was a huge success for our members and families! My thanks to our host locals, Dane County and Madison, for your outstanding work and organization. As well, I would like to thank the entire WPPA staff who, as always, did an excellent job at registration, providing workshops, and overseeing the needs of all attendees.
If you were unable to attend the Convention this year, I encourage you to make plans early to attend next year. The Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells will play host to the WPPA Convention for the next several years, with a change beginning in 2005 when the Convention will begin on Saturday in hopes of attracting more families to attend. There are more than enough distractions and responsibilities which pull each of us away from family; wouldn’t it be nice if our children actually looked forward to their parents attending the Convention and WPPA activities? We also deserve a little relaxation.
Public Safety issues at the Capitol don’t appear to be solved. Our legislative representative Steve Werner and chief lobbyist Jim Palmer continue to work with our state legislature on shared revenue programs; the “Bill of Goods,” better known at the Capitol as TABOR; and those programs which protect the safety of our members and those non-members who, like each of us, wears a badge and holds the front lines in our communities.
I would like to take a moment as well to bring you up to date on recent events which have occurred concerning the WPPA. Many of you have already heard or read about changes which have taken place within the staff and some of the reasons for those changes. I want to try to give you the flavor of what happened, what is being done presently to address the circumstances which led to our staff changes, and to give you some sense of the steps that are being taken to rectify past problems and move the WPPA forward.
Irregularities in the management of the finances of the parent organization came to light gradually in late fall 2003. As the seriousness of these irregularities became evident, your Board retained our law firm and accountants to investigate the concerns that had been raised. The initial investigation revealed clear examples of serious improprieties in the performance of the Executive Director’s duties. Following a more in-depth examination of all finances of our organization, the Executive Director left the organization at the direction of the Board of Directors.
During the financial examination it became apparent that our finances were not on solid ground, or simply stated, our short term spending was exceeding our income. We are working hard in Madison to sort out short term problems and put the WPPA back on solid ground for our long term financial health.
Another factor the investigation revealed is that as WPPA has grown at an unparalleled rate for labor organizations representing public employees, our management structures did not keep pace with those increases, resulting in errors and lack of accountability.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, based on some longstanding problems, the WPPA Bookkeeper’s employment was terminated. On the same day, based on several completely inappropriate acts of insubordination, threats to individuals, and the WPPA, it became necessary to terminate the employment of one of our business agents.
In February, Steve Urso, informed the Board he was leaving the WPPA to devote full-time work on his doctoral degree.
By the second week of March 2004, WPPA was down four positions, resulting in a shift of job duties for some employees and added responsibilities for all.
Where are we today? An annual accounting has been completed and our auditors have presented their findings to the full Board. Our interim Executive Director, Tom Bahr, has been working intensely with the Board to put into place more responsive financial practices. We have begun a re-evaluation of duties in anticipation of hiring a new Executive Director, and a newly formed Personnel Committee is working to re-staff the organization.
I am pleased to report that our cash flow is excellent and by all signs should bring us back into the black. Everyone should realize that our greatest strength – and our greatest weakness – has been the trust we’ve placed in one another. These have been a terrible and stressful few months, but, as fellow law enforcement officers, you know terrible times often bring out the best in people. I thank all of you individually and collectively for continuing to give this organization your best.
All of our members should also be aware that the “blood of this ordeal is in the water” and that the “sharks” from other labor organizations are circling in an effort to strike the weakest and most vulnerable among us. We must ride this ordeal out together.
To have been asked to serve as your President is a privilege and a challenge — a challenge I embrace with your support.
Thank you for your hard earned trust, your friendship, your continued sense of pride in our organization and your willingness to move forward — together!
Take care of those who take care of you. Be Safe!