The Workers’ Compensation Council: Boondoggle Supreme

For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2011

Contact: Dale Butland
614-783-5833

Innovation Ohio’s Taxpayer Rip-Off Of the Week:
The Workers’ Compensation Council: Boondoggle Supreme
A $100,000 Director, a $950,000 budget, 0 staff, and 1 Report in 3 years

Columbus—Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today presented its “Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week” Award to the Workers’ Compensation Council, a state agency created by the General Assembly in 2007 at the behest of then Representative and now Speaker William Batchelder to provide legislative analysis and oversight for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Despite doing virtually no work, the Council pays its sole employee—Director Virginia McInerney—over $100,000 annually.

The Council’s budget—set for $942,400 in the next biennium—is paid through assessments on Ohio businesses. According to the agency’s own website (www.wcc.state.oh.us) the Council has produced exactly one (1) report since it began operations in 2008.

In February, 2010, Ms. McInerney abruptly fired all three of the Council’s staff members who, in turn, filed wrongful termination suits alleging religious harassment by the Director, and citing bizarre workplace prayer rituals and scripture readings in which they were expected to participate. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the suits were settled in August, 2010 for a total payment of $70,000 ($55,000 for the staffers and $15,000 for their attorney), and that these costs were eventually borne by Ohio businesses. Read the story here.

Said Innovation Ohio Communications Director Dale Butland:

“In a target rich environment, the Workers’ Comp Council is the hands-down winner of this week’s Tax Payer Rip-Off Award. In three years, the Council has produced a grand total of one report. Yet the Director—who last year fired the only three staff members she had—is paid more than $100,000 per year for doing essentially nothing. Even worse, her apparent religious proselytizing in the workplace ended up costing Ohio businesses another $70,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the three staffers she fired.

“Surely Gov. Kasich and his allies who control the General Assembly will be outraged over this million dollar boondoggle. At a time when they’re slashing the budget of the Ohio Consumers Counsel and asking local governments and school districts to “do more with less”, there is an agency right under their noses doing nothing with more. So we’re confident that they’ll end this abuse ‘at the speed of business.’ After all, it’s a golden opportunity to show that they’ll be as tough on conservative political appointees as they are on police, firefighters and teachers.”