Don’t take the job if you don’t work until it’s done

Sometimes you receive good advice from a bad situation. While I was attending classes at Idaho State University I had a job in one of the campus offices. I was being paid through work-study funds that were part of my financial aid package. The department I was working for did not have the ability to pay for hours beyond my work-study award. My supervisor did the quick math of dividing the amount of work-study money by the hourly rate they were offering to determine how many hours I could work that semester then divided that number by how many weeks were in a semester and discovered I could work five hours per week.

I was much more self-assured in my world view at the time and decided I would have to have another job somewhere to fill in the gap and that classes and my second job should take priority over the five hours a week job. I worked when I could in between classes and my other job. This meant sometimes I did not work my five hours during a particularly busy week. It was the nature of the department I worked for that activity was erratic so there was never a specific schedule handed down from my supervisor. This did not stop my supervisor from being annoyed by my cavalier self-scheduling.

My supervisor asked me into the office and explained that I was not being a good employee. I explained my view that it was nice of the department to offer a way for me to access money that had been awarded to me, but the five hours a week did not amount to much and I felt I should be given the freedom to set my own schedule because I was in a place of needing another job to cover my expenses; and to be frank, it would be a huge inconvenience to have to tell my other employer they had to work around the smaller employer’s schedule.

My supervisor said “let me show you something,” and pulled a file folder out of the desk. It was about three inches thick.

“These are the applications we received for this position this semester. There are plenty of people who would like this job, so if you don’t want to be here let me know and I will call the next person on the pile,” said my supervisor.

I said I thought that might be for the best. As I got up to leave my supervisor said one last thing.

“I understand your position and agree that you should honor your other commitment first. It was when you said it was an ‘inconvenience’ that I stopped agreeing with you. Never tell an employer you don’t want to be there if you want to keep the job,” my supervisor said.

I thought this was good advice even if I didn’t take it at the time. Now I look at the state legislature and wonder about the wisdom of telling the people of Idaho they want out early.

The Idaho Statesman is reporting the Idaho Legislature is gunning for a Friday, March 21, end of the 2014 session.

House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley is quoted as saying “The only thing that will keep us here is a major blow up on a budget.”

Governor Otter told the Associated General Contractors of Idaho in December, the number one job facing Idaho was “getting me reelected”.

Throughout this session other news outlets have repeatedly reported comments from legislators pushing for a quick session so they could get home and on the campaign trail.

“We did not dictate it coming in. There was a lot of buy-in from legislators,” Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg told The Statesman.

On a local note; the legislators covering our area; Rep. Kelly Packer, Rep. Ken Andrus and Sen. Jim Guthrie held meetings prior to the legislative session with local leaders. During those meeting and since then all three have reported their colleagues were anxious for an early end to the session, but none of them have ever advocated for a short session themselves.

There is an inequity for sitting legislators in an election year like this one. Candidates must register their intent to seek an office by Friday, March 14. Meaning those not serving in Boise have one week longer to campaign, but the group in charge of campaign rules is the Idaho Legislature.

I find it is a very effective analogy to say elected leaders like the governor and legislators are our employees. We as voters are the ones that give them the job they asked for. It is from our collective taxes they are paid and the basic premise of the whole system is that they are selected to represent our interests in the political process.

It is fair to expect senators and representatives to take as long as it takes to cover the necessary issues. Some Democrats seem to think not enough attention has been paid to important issues like Medicaid expansion.

“The big one, the one that saves 120 lives a year and $90 million, is the one we can’t even talk about. But don’t forget: we did wolves,” said House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston.

I am not making a commentary on legislative priorities. It doesn’t matter in which order issues are covered, it only matters that they get covered.

There is always that crescendo of books closing and backpacks being zipped up three minutes before the bell rings. That is not a sound that should be coming from the state capitol.

If legislators are so worried about non-incumbent candidates having seven extra campaign days then the legislature should change campaign rules to prevent the start of active campaigning until the end of the session, or better yet they should allow their opponents the extra seven days of campaign time. In the 2012 national election 90 percent of representatives and 91 percent of senators seeking reelection won despite an overall congressional approval rating of just 15 percent, the lowest in 40 years. Political scientists have a term for this: Incumbent Advantage.

Come back a week later and campaign on the idea you were actually doing the work, but don’t leave work undone to campaign. If doing the job is inconvenient let me know and I will call the next name on the top of the pile.

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