Forget Ferris Bueller. Zais was absent 29 days

Edward R. Rooney would forget Ferris and his measly nine absences if he had Supt. Mick Zais in his school, according to this report over at Palmetto Public Record:

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais took twice as much personal time during 2011 as the average state employee is allowed, according to an exclusive look at the schools chief’s schedule.
Zais’ personal calendar, which was made available to Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) through an open records request in November and later obtained by Palmetto Public Record, shows that Zais took 234 hours of personal time (the equivalent of 29 full workdays) between Jan. 12 and Nov. 17, when the schedule was turned over to Leventis. That number doesn’t include medical leave, of which Zais took the equivalent of six workdays during the same period. The schedule also doesn’t include the final five weeks of 2011, when Zais may have taken even more personal time for the Christmas holidays.

In sharp contrast to Zais’ considerable number of absences, a state employee with 10 or fewer years of experience is allowed 15 days of personal leave per year — about half of what Zais took during the 44 weeks covered in his schedule.

Education Department spokesman Jay Ragley said the state superintendent, as a constitutional officer, is held to a different standard than regular employees. “Because of their unique status in state government, constitutional officers are presumed to be on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are not allotted sick days or annual leave time as standard state employees accrue,” he said…

Democrats are making a big thing of this. I got this link from an advisory from Phil Bailey with the Senate Dems (under the headline, “Senators to Discuss Zais’ Truancy”), telling me that Sens. Leventis and Brad Hutto are having a press conference to talk about it at 3 today at the State House. No, I don’t know why Sen. Leventis didn’t bring it up in November, when he got the info.

7 thoughts on “Forget Ferris Bueller. Zais was absent 29 days

  1. Silence

    Well, it looks like they’ll invoke Article IV, Sec. 9 of the State Constitution: “Officers shall be removed for incapacity, misconduct, or neglect of duty, in such manner as may be provided by law when no mode of trial or removal is provided in this Constitution. (1972 (57) 3181; 1973 (58) 83.)” Then on to the State House for impeachment, and trial by the Senate…. Good luck.

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  2. Lynn

    It’s just so efficient to phone it in. So cost effective to have to maintain only an extra charged cell phone battery for moments of crisis. Set the auto pilot and takeoff and land.
    Excuse me, I need to check the depth of the water in the bathtub, we don’t want to waste any in drowning our gov’t do we?

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  3. tired old man

    A farmer friend of mine was most interested in this issue because he claimed that the Commissioner of Agriculture had accepted $25,000 in compensation for serving on a board, which required 20 days of attendance. He wanted to know if Hugh Weathers had taken annual leave to attend to those extraneous duties.

    Jay Ragley’s 24×7 argument with no sick/vacation days — if carried to the extreme — would seem to preclude a constitutional officer from accepting any duties other than his or her statutory ones.

    How can one serve the taxpayers 24×7 and have any sort of an outside life?

    I also remember that during the brief tenure of Ravenel that there was a furor about the state treasurer supposed to keep Saturday office hours.

    And I know the lieutenant governor is actually legally described and compensated as a part-time position.

    And Mark Sanford certainly indicated that while a governor can call time out (or off), controversy can erupt.

    So, what is “neglect of duty” and do constitutional officers enjoy — or endure — a 24×7 obligation to the taxpayers?

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  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    At least Catherine Templeton was going to be an actual DHEC office down there. Zais was just out on personal business. @ Lynn T–you are correct. I’m actually thinking it’s a good thing Zais isn’t around to roll logs under people’s feet.

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