Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Burga: Boo hoo hoo, wah wah wah

Bill Burga is crying over the embarrassing position he is in as one of the five members of the BWC's Nearsighted Commission. However, it's a little late to be complaining. From the Dispatch and Blade:
Also yesterday, William Burga, a longtime member of the bureau Oversight Commission, said he would not resign in the wake of the scandal over the MDL losses and a separate rare-coin investment that has a reported shortfall of up to $13 million.

Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO and a representative of organized labor on the commission, said he was "misled, misinformed and otherwise kept in the dark" about investment problems.

"To say that I am damn angry about it is a gross understatement," said Burga.
Burga should shut the fuck up, resign and apologize for letting himself be duped. His decision to un-resign and these comments are self-serving crap that is not about defending labor's interest or fighting for the integrity of BWC or the Commission. We believe he is simply laying the groundwork for a legal defense that he may need if and when legal action is taken against the five commission members (and others) who have fiduciary responsibility over the BWC investments.

Make no mistake, we are a big labor supporter. In fact, there needs to be more union oversight and involvement with BWC not less. Real oversight and involvement - not just showing up for meetings, posing for photo-ops and going to conferences and "trainings" in warm locales.

Unfortunately, Burga is not the only labor leader appointed to a state board who is essentially clueless about what it means to be a fiduciary and how seriously their reponsibilities are.

That also true for the non-labor appointees, too. We've been to a lot of meetings of various state board and commissions. In some cases, we did sense that staff were likely misleading the board members or were keeping in the dark. In other cases, staff were providing an incredible amount of detailed and accurate information. What's common in our experience is that it didn't seem to make much difference. That's because too often the board members were either too apathetic or too unprepared to absorb what was going on. Either way, the tail was wagging the dog with staff effectively running the show.

Back to Burga, we believe with leadership and service comes accountability. Does he?

In many ways, this is no different than the fight that taking place at the national level of the AFL-CIO.

In brief, the national labor fed's struggles essentially boil down to pinning down who is responsible for repeatedly-missed organizing and political opportunities. No one person is holding the cure-all for labor, but those who are desperately trying to hang onto power are there more or less because of well . . . we guess we have to call it seniority . . . rather than astute skills and leadership. Seniority is great as long as the person utilizing it truly has the chops to do the job right.

At the local level, we have guys like Bill Burga, who on one hand have truly worked hard in the past for labor's interest and accomplished some significant things. But, Burga has also presided over the Ohio AFL-CIO during a period of continued decline, shrinking influence and a flawed 2004 election strategy.

Burga will try to appeal to other labor leaders and the rank-and-file for support, and, unfortunately he will probably get it. We only wish that our brothers and sisters in the labor movement could understand that Burga was asleep at the wheel, and that they deserve a representative on the Commission that is truly focused on BWC's performance.


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