Sharpe to the Point: Baby, Boom

Jim SharpeNovember 2019
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$72 an hour is great work if you can get it – but not so great if you have to pay it. And you are.

The temporary seasonal worker pay I saw advertised at a Target store here in the Valley recently didn’t seem terrible: $14 per hour is more than I made at my first radio job. But whether you’re temping at Target or talking on a mic, few of us realize the dream of making $72 per hour.

Bill Wiley is now living the dream. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors recently hired Wiley for that Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous sum – also for a temp job. And it’s almost twice the amount that the full-time job pays.

Not that the full-timer was doing anything close to full-time work. The supervisors hired Wiley after suspending county assessor Paul Petersen, whose fantastically ill-advised use of county hard drives became national news back in October.

The board can’t fire Petersen for being part of a fraudulent adoption scheme that’s landed him behind bars – because he’s an elected official. So they did the next best thing: They suspended Petersen for four months (and will probably continue to do so on a rolling basis) for not being able to fulfill his duties.

The thing is: He wasn’t fulfilling the duties of county assessor long before he ended up in jail, facing charges in three different states. An audit conducted by the county showed that before Petersen was busted, he only spent 30 percent of available working days this year at the assessor’s office. That audit also found that only 14 percent of the desktop files on his work computer had anything to do with assessor business. (Seems his side hustle of gentleman human-trafficker was eating up his hard drive space and his time.)

We got all this “hard” work for $77,000 a year. I guess that’s why $72/hour hurts so much. Petersen didn’t deliver – and now we’re having to deliver double that amount to someone else?

While it won’t be hard for Wiley to double the workload of Underachiever of the Year Petersen, should Wiley be paid double what that workload is supposed to earn? He’s a former chief engineer for the Maricopa County Flood Control District and past director of the county’s air quality department, so he does seem to have a knack for (incredibly boring) jobs that the average person has no idea how to do.

Maybe Wiley promised to personally sign and collect every single property tax bill in Maricopa County. Or maybe he simply promised to never bring pregnant women from the Marshall Islands here so he can sell their babies. This is the bar that was set by Petersen.

I don’t know. But I can tell you that no matter how much we pay someone to do the job of county assessor, we’ll need more than a temp to fill the position. Because Petersen is looking at 300-plus years behind bars, and that job requires that you show up more than 50 days per year. Voters have a chance to boot Petersen from office in 2020, but so far no other GOP candidate has filed, which is strange. I suspect he’s beatable.

Jim Sharpe is the host of Arizona’s Morning News on KTAR-FM 92.3 (weekdays 5-9 a.m.). Visit ktar.com to find more information about his on-air work.

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