By Nic Horton | The Arkansas Project
LITTLE ROCK — What’s our dear friend Bill Walker up to these days? I’m glad you asked.
I originally reported on July 19 that Walker’s hand-picked, uncertified sign-language interpreter was enrolling in classes at University of Arkansas at Little Rock to obtain her certification. Enrolling was apparently the right grammatical tense.
According to KATV, Walker told state legislators at the personnel hearing that his hire, Clara Taylor, was already enrolled at UALR, but it turns out this was not true:
“Two days ago State Workforce Director Bill Walker told a room full of lawmakers that a state employee hired to interpret sign language was enrolled in a college course to better learn that skill.
“Turns out … she wasn’t.
“A day after Mr. Walker told lawmakers this employee was enrolled in a sign language course at UALR … she did, in fact, enroll.”
This is an important development. Not only were state lawmakers misled, but they were misled in a way that likely made them more inclined to let Taylor remain employed. If I was a lawmaker, knowing — or thinking — that Taylor was enrolled and state tax dollars had been spent on her certification would make me more inclined to let her keep her job. (See: loss aversion.)
As I reported a few weeks ago, the estimated cost for Taylor’s certification, according to UALR, is a little more than $36,000.
This story continues to live as new developments emerge. My reporting continues to garner comments from members of the deaf community.
And Walker seems to know this is not the end of the story as well, going on a listening tour of the deaf community a few weeks ago.
But it is less clear what action Walker plans to take to resolve the situation. While KATV mentions at the end of its report that Walker is considering changing the job description of the position, that would be a ridiculous substitute for correcting his error and firing Taylor, particularly when anything short of her removal and replacement means the needs of the deaf community will remain unmet.
If KATV’s report is correct and Walker lied to state lawmakers, he should be removed from his position as well. This conduct is unacceptable for state officials, particularly when such large amounts of taxpayer dollars are hanging in the balance.