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U.S. News and Commentary



Thursday
Jul092009

Social Security Admin trains hundreds at Arizona Biltmore

UPDATE: (Jul. 16)--ABC-15 (Phoenix) has the SSA response to the affiliate's investigation of the training conference. ABC-15 apparently was among the first, if not the first, to report this. I saw it first on Fox News. The SSA sent a 3-page explanatory letter to Congress the TV investigative team said.

The US Social Security Administration is dubbed one of the best agencies to work for, and judging by a training conference, I can see why. Fox News scooped the training conference held at the Arizona Biltmore, a facility claiming on its home pages to be "known throughout the world as the 'Jewel of the Desert.'" The hotel website says every room has a well-stocked mini-bar and for the weight conscious, a scale. The SSA, Fox said, flew 700 managers to the resort for a conference with skits, a dance troupe, Casino Night and door prizes.

If you're recalling President Barack Obama's fit about private companies doing the wine- and-dine in exotic locations after taking taxpayer bailout money, you're not alone. The federal government spends taxpayer money with no shame, no integrity and no accountability.

The Fox reporter asked a SSA spokesman, "With withering criticism over the misuse of taxpayer dollars, many people will look at this and go, 'Wait, same thing.'"

The spokesman replied, "There's a clear distinction between the two. They received specific bailout dollars. We didn't. We're not using any recovery money. There's no ARA money involved in this."

That sort of brain-dead reasoning prevails in Washington. Bureaucrats think if the bucks don't come from one pot, it's fine if they come from another. There's a complete lack of consciousness regarding safeguarding taxpayer dollars.

Once again, the federal government proves its ineptitude as we, the taxpayer, face a government composed of looters.

 

Jul. 15, 2009: This article has been edited. The video glitched this page up when we tried to edit it. We eventually realized what was causing problems. You may watch the original video hosted at Fox News. I have also removed snarkisms. And I would add I do not want to see anyone lose his or her job but I would like to see reformed spending.--Kay B. Day, ed.

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Reader Comments (10)

Note to readers: I'm having problems with editing on my host server. I cannot seem to get the duplicate video deleted. I apologize and will attempt to clean this up later.--best, Kay Day, Ed.
**Problem appears resolved.

July 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

do as we say not as we do!

If you work for the goverment you are set. and the rest of us paid for their party

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterowg

The strange thing is, those people can't even understand that there's anything wrong with what they're doing.

How did we manage to let the people who work for us become elevated to a place so far above us that they feel "entitled" to enjoy luxuries and benefits that we, their employers, cannot?

And how did we manage to let them believe that it's OK to be rude to us?

The real question now is...HOW do we turn this around?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarte Cliff

I understand the slight hypocrisy however the bailout money was going to bankers with huge salaries - fair enough they shouldn't be spending it on nice conferences - the public servants working for far far less occasionally do deserve this kind of treatment, as well as a decent pension etc. The banks excuse for huge pay is to retain staff, this runs true in all business however government cannot pay huge salaries and must have some other benefits to retain their skilled staff. If the public servants did go work in the private world our government would be managed by a bunch of college drop outs....there where would this country be!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWorker

it use to be that a government worker made less money then the average american, but no more. that changed some time ago. government is now big business, local, city,county,state and federal workers are well compensated who get every holiday off[paid],have better health care benefits,and for the most part are surly and rude.just imagine what it will be like when they take over healthcare. most are part of a union and get automatic pay raises despite their job proformance. they can't be fired unless they really screw up,and even then it ain't easy. they are usually democrats, because,well, it wouldn't occur to a republican to work in such a system. they are the new middle class.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjim

Did anyone actually look at the hotel info or is everyone just accepting of the inflamatory writing? They charge $96 per night for the gov't rate room. This is their standard (most common) room which normally goes $106. We aren't talking high end lodgings costs folks. Just try to find a hotel that can accomodate 700 people for a better cost anywhere in the country.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergovt ee

To be honest, I don't care if the rooms came at $10 a pop.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKay B. Day

SSA is obviously too top heavy with managers if it can afford to send 700 of them away for a week while the rest of the Agency employees slave away on their monthly (and now weekly) "goals". But the REAL story is what is going on behind the scenes. Just like Wall Street before it, SSA has become so focused on providing short term results to its shareholders (in this case Congress) that it is ignoring the long term effects on the Trust Fund.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSD

Before you bash gov workers, get all the facts and walk in there shoes. Compare a gov job with a private sector job and compare to find the real facts. To be sent away for a 3 day conference at $97-a-night rate? That is saving money. Where do banks send their CEO's and how much do they spend a night?
Besides to be abused like public servants, I would demand a week per year at a nice hotel.
And Marte Cliff"And how did we manage to let them believe that it's OK to be rude to us?" It's not us against them. We should be civil to each other. IF we're rude to them, then I would expect them to kick us out of their office. "They" are my fellow citizens who help us, and they pay taxes as well. So they deserve respect for what they do, like everyone who helps the public.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterghostwriter

This story is sad for a number of reasons. The conference was reportedly held because the managers needed to learn how to work with hostel members of the public. The fact is that managers at that level rarely deal with the public. SSA is under staffed and the internet is being used as the best thing to replace workers. One of SSA's strongest qualities was that they were top in customer service. That is all changing. If the reason that is changing is so funds can be wasted in this fashion then I am horrified. The majority of government workers are hard working and they have to handle triple the responsibilities they should because of the under staffing and the false belief that contracting jobs out or making customers use the internet will solve the problem. The Commissioner of SSA is a political appointee. He is actually a republican left over from the Bush administration. If government agencies were allowed to have people that worked within the agency as the top people in charge I think things like this would not happen. Every government agency is run this way from the USDA to the IRS. It is a strange concept and it promotes abuse in my opinion. What is really disturbing is that along with being under staffed offices can not get supplies that are needed. The money that was spent on this training could have gone to the supplies alone. Look into the facts before condemning the government worker you might be surprised at what you find.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterworker

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