Hold on, gals. That headline doesn't mean we're about to go all sexist on you.
Testimony in Garland Circuit Court last week by several current and former employees of the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services Division was that some of the clients they serve were known by the acronym PMS. It stands for politically mandated service — for clients who have clout and should be treated accordingly.
According to Bob Means, a psychologist for 37 years at the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center, PMS broke the law when it meant housing, transportation, food and services for somebody not qualified under federal law. He blew the whistle in 2008. He said he told elected officials and got no response, except from the U.S. Office of Inspector General, which asked for more information that he supplied. Days after, he was fired by division chief Robert Trevino.
Trevino testified that he fired Means at the direction of Bill Walker, director of Workforce Education. Trevino contended, but offered no documented proof, that the move was part of a long-planned reorganization. He didn't explain what moved Walker to act suddenly from a vacation in the Cayman Islands, through a phone call to Trevino, himself vacationing at South Padre Island, Texas.
A state law protects whistle blowers. A Garland Circuit Court jury awarded Means $110,000 and his attorney, Scott Hickam, will be filing a claim for attorney fees. After a day of stonewalling, we finally got a response to this from Bill Walker. He'd have no comment on the verdict because he planned to appeal. PMS? No comment.
The governor's office said PMS is "a term we've never used, recognized or heard of before this matter." The office, of course, has referred people to a variety of state agencies including the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services Division, but has "never mandated that anyone be treated regardless of qualification."