How many people should be put through a wringer before, oh you know ….

Posted: 3:48 am EDT
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We’ve previously blogged about Foreign Service assignments to international organizations. FSOs who take up assignments in some of these organizations are excluded from promotion consideration in the Foreign Service (see Secondments to international organizations and promotions? Here comes the boo!).

We’ve been able to locate the FSGB case here (PDF), and the appeal case here (PDF).

Grievant filed his initial grievance with the Department on August 7, 2012,1 claiming that he was improperly excluded from promotion consideration by the 2008-2012 Selection Boards, during which time he was encumbering a position at the REDACTED. His assignment to REDACTED was effected by separation/transfer (“secondment,” according to Department usage) in the spring of 2007, and he exercised re-employment rights to return to agency rolls in 2012. Grievant claimed he believed he would remain eligible for promotion consideration during the REDACTED assignment, based on information contained in the Information Sheet that accompanied his Separation Agreement and on alleged assurances he received from Department Human Resources (HR) personnel. He claimed that shortly after he took the REDACTED assignment, he became aware that the Promotion Precepts exclude from review employees who have been separated/transferred to international organizations. Nonetheless, he claimed that the official notification of his assignment (SF-50 Personnel Action) assigned him to a status (the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai (MFO)) that specifically permits officers so assigned to remain eligible for promotion  consideration. He argued that instead of using the separation/transfer mechanism, the Department should have detailed him to REDACTED leaving him on Department rolls and eligible for promotion consideration during the assignment. Grievant argued that Department errors in documentation of his assignment, and its different explanations of its own regulations, amount to bad faith on the part of the Department.

The Department acknowledged inaccuracies in the original Department documentation and in its decision on grievant’s appeal, in which it claimed that grievant’s separation/transfer instead of a detail was “standard protocol” for cases such as grievant’s. […] Notwithstanding the inaccuracies in documentation, the Department argued that separating/transferring grievant to the was not a clear violation of agency policy in effect at the time, and there was no impediment to taking that action.[…] The agency argued, therefore, that its actions were not contrary to law, regulation or collective bargaining agreement, and that neither the SF-50 errors, nor the errors contained in the Information Sheet, alter grievant’s status. Finally, the agency claimed it is an established fact that grievant did not serve in the Sinai in the MFO, and he is not entitled to benefits afforded to officers who serve there.

The FSGB ruled that “Regardless of the reason(s) why an “incorrect” SF-50 was issued in the first place, the preponderance of the evidence supports the conclusion that the only SF-50 in the record was issued containing several errors, not the least of which is that grievant was assigned to the MFO in the Sinai – where we know he did not serve. We fail to see the manifest injustice based on grievant’s arguments in this respect that would constitute grounds for reconsideration of our March 19, 2014, decision.”

We understand that this grievant was actually assigned to OSCE but his SF-50 says he was assigned to MFO. No, the grievant did not prepare his own SF-50, silly :-).  Wondering why the SF-50 says MFO, and was never corrected. Was it intended as a work-around? If not, why was it never corrected the entire time the FSO was on assignment at an organization that was obviously not the MFO in the Sinai?

Standard Form 50, is the official form the government uses to calculate your retirement. Your SF-50s determine your retirement eligibility, your federal pension, and in this case, it also impacts promotion eligibility.

In any case, this is an expanding case not just in the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB), but also with the  Office of Special Counsel and now in federal court.

The individual would not discuss his ongoing court case but here is what we got:

“I decided to raise this issue with the new AFSA Board, which came into office with much fanfare as the “Strong Diplomacy” slate. After more than a month of non-response, I finally received the following this morning from an AFSA Board member:

“With limited resources, AFSA is unable to pursue each and every dispute with management and must focus on those issues that have the greatest impact on our membership and most benefit the Foreign Service as a whole. I understand you have already pursued this issue with private counsel through the grievance process. Given other competing priorities, this is not an issue AFSA is going to pursue with management.”

In other words, although AFSA is aware of an ongoing and systematic violation of federal law on the part of Department management, it is choosing not to pursue the issue with management due to more pressing priorities, thus leaving dues-paying members to fend for themselves in the courts, at their own expense.”

It’s worth noting that the promotion precepts are negotiated and agreed annually between the State Department and AFSA. We’re not sure what to make of this. If an employee is not able to rely on its union for disputes like this, who can he/she rely on? Is there a threshold on how many people should be put through the wringer before AFSA takes it up with management?

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@StateDept’s Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs: Doug Frantz Out, John Kirby In

Posted: 12:28  pm PDT
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In our Burn Bag mail today:

“Kirby in as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Will that most bureaucratic of bureaus finally be fixed?”

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State Department Spokesperson John Kirby watches as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters on August 6, 2015, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during a news conference following two days of meetings at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

Douglas Frantz was a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 35 years before joining the State Department in September 2013 as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. He previously worked for then-Senator John Kerry as deputy staff director and chief investigator of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).  We understand that Frantz is slated to move to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

John Kirby was appointed as the Spokesperson for the Department of State on May 12, 2015. Kirby previously served as Pentagon Press Secretary, serving for more than a year as the chief spokesman for the Department of Defense and for former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He retired from the Navy in May 2015 with the rank of Rear Admiral.

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Tweet of the Day: “So, I got married this morning.”

— Domani Spero
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Dan Baer is the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  HRC notes that Ambassador Baer is the seventh openly LGBT person appointed by President Obama and the first to a multilateral institution.

Best wishes to the happy couple!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OSCE Ambassador Dan Baer on The Colbert Report: “From Russia With Love (But No Gay Stuff)

❊ If you want to help keep us around, see Help Diplopundit Continue the Chase—Crowdfunding for 2014 via RocketHub ❊

— Domani Spero

On The Colbert Report on February 10parody correspondent Buddy Cole met with our Ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Daniel Baer for the show’s   “From Russia With Love (But No Gay Stuff)” segment.  “How did they take it when they found that you work for the government?” Are buttons gayer than zippers?” Congratulations to Ambassador Baer for successfully passing the straight face test.

[gigya src=”http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:video:colbertnation.com:432977″ width=”500″ height=”376″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” wmode=”window” allowFullscreen=”true” flashvars=”autoPlay=false” allowscriptaccess=”always” allownetworking=”all” bgcolor=“#000000″ ]

According to Human Rights Watch, LGBT people face stigma, harassment, and violence in their everyday lives in Russia, and LGBT victims of violence and groups told HRW that these problems intensified in 2013.  Earlier this month, HRW released a video of Russian men beaten on camera (be warned, it is horrible and disturbing to watch).

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Today at the SFRC: Nuland, Lute, Baer

By Domani Spero

 

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold confirmation hearings for the following State Department nominees:

Presiding: Senator Murphy

Date: Thursday, July 11, 2013

Time: 02:15 PM

Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Nominees:

  • The Honorable Victoria Nuland of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
  • Mr. Douglas Edward Lute of Indiana, to be United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • Mr. Daniel Brooks Baer of Colorado, to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in EuropeClick here to view the  scheduled live webcast and prepared testimonies.

 

A live webcast and the prepared testimonies of the nominees will be posted here when available.

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Officially In: Daniel B. Baer — From State/DRL to OSCE (Ambassador Rank)

By Domani Spero

On June 10, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Daniel B. Baer as the next United States Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with rank of Ambassador. The WH released the following brief bio:

Daniel B. Baer is a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.  Prior to joining the Administration in 2009, he was an Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.  From 2007 to 2008, Dr. Baer was a Faculty Fellow in the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.  From 2004 to 2007, he worked at The Boston Consulting Group, first as a consultant and later a project leader.

Dr. Baer received an A.B. from Harvard University, an M.Phil and a D.Phil from Oxford University.

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The Human Rights Campaign stated about Baer:

“Daniel Baer — the current Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor — If confirmed, would become the fourth openly-LGBT person to serve as a U.S. Ambassador abroad, and the first to a multilateral institution. “Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer has led a distinguished career of public service, both at home and abroad,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Over the last few years at the Department of State, Daniel has worked tirelessly to promote democracy and human rights in every corner of the globe, helping to secure and protect the freedoms of the world’s most vulnerable communities. This, paired with his years of global business experience, makes him an outstanding choice to be our nation’s next Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”

Mr. Baer’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for today, June 11 at 2:15 pm.  If confirmed, Mr. Baer would succeed career diplomat and former State Department spokesman Ian Kelly who was appointed to OSCE (in Vienna) in March 2010.

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Related item:

June 10, 2013 President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOP Connie Mack IV Wants Nonexistent UN Election Monitors to Observe “Banana Republics” Not U.S.

FP’s  Joshua Keating recently reported that Florida Rep. Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV aka: Connie Mack IV (Republican for the 14th district), currently running for a senate seat has called for the United Nations to be defunded and “kicked off U.S. soil.”

Dear United Nations, what did you do to this man?

Here is what Mack’s campaign sent out:

MIAMI – U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Connie Mack and Chairman of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee today strongly condemned reports that the United Nations is preparing to monitor the upcoming U.S. election – a function usually reserved for third-world countries, banana republics and fledgling democracies.

Mack said:

“The very idea that the United Nations – the world body dedicated to diminishing America’s role in the world — would be allowed, if not encouraged, to install foreigners sympathetic to the likes of Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Putin to oversee our elections is nothing short of disgusting.“

For years the United Nations has aggressively worked against the best interests of our country and many of our allies. The UN’s actions and intentions toward the United States have been nothing short of reprehensible.

“Every American should be outraged by this news. The United States must defund the United Nations. The United Nations should be kicked off of American soil once and for all. And the American people should demand that the United Nations be stopped from ‘monitoring’ American elections. The only ones who should ever oversee American elections are Americans.”

And — according to Tampa Bay Times, in case we miss it the first round, Mack’s campaign said that the U.N. monitoring “should be reserved for third-world countries, banana republics and fledgling democracies.”

They’re talking about those countries where income inequality stretches a mile, where there is a slim or nonexistent middleclass and where plutocrats are a rare breed sitting atop a pyramid or something?

Hey, waaaait a minute — is Congressman Mack IV also ranting about those OSCE election monitors masquerading as United Nations observers?

Holy mother of goat and all her genius nephews! We’ve written previously about the fears of quantum elections in Texas over those OSCE election observers.  The senate candidate from Florida is certainly entitled to his own outrage but we’re horrified that he could not get the target of his outrage well, straight. OSCE man, OSCE not the UN.

:Sigh: — and this is the guy who wants to replace Bill Nelson as one of Florida’s senators to the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Connie Mack IV

While you’re digesting that thought, here are some photos of Senator McCain (who apparently was close with Mack’s father, former Congressman and Senator Connie Mack III and campaigned with Mack IV) observing the elections in Libya this year (right there in the polling station, too), writing: “I had the honor of observing Libya’s first free elections in 60 years – an extraordinary achievement for the Libyan people.”

(Click on image for more photos)

 

Holycrap! One of our senators observing real democracy in action! And just as good as in the movies!

It looks like Florida’s 14th district pride is behind in the polls, but if there is a Senator McGillicuddy IV in after Tuesday’s election, we’ll be in a lookout for his trips to bananaland.

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Oops! What’s this?  Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) was on MSNBC earlier today sharply criticizing the confusion and long lines at some Florida polling places and said:

“I don’t know what went on in Florida, but I do have to say that in this day and age, it’s inexcusable that in this country, we have anything like this going on.” she said. “I’ve led delegations around the world to watch voting and this is the kind of thing you expect in a third-world country, not in the United States of America.”

Noooooooo!

 

 

Where “observing” also means “interferring” foreign election observers under threat of criminal sanctions

The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional security organization with 56 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. The member states include the United States.  OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is conducting a limited election observation mission in the United States for the 6 November 2012 general elections. According to the OSCE, this is the sixth US elections the ODIHR has observed, without incident, since 2002 (wait until you hear about Texas). They also observed most recently the 2010 mid-term elections. Our US Mission to the OSCE extended an official invitation.  Similar invitations must have been extended in the past since the OSCE has observed elections in the United States in the last ten years.

Below via the US Mission to the OSCE:

The United States supports the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). ODIHR’s election observation methodology remains the standard for election monitoring around the world. The U.S. also supports ODIHR’s programs that increase transparency in the democratic process, encourage the rule of law, and develop a democratic culture by facilitating participation in the policy-making process.

The observation mission is headed by Ambassador Daan Everts of the Netherlands.  The core team members come from the UK, Germany, the Russian Federation, Greece, Italy, France, Netherlands, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Poland.  Forty-four long-term observers from member states arrived in the US in early October and has been deployed in teams of two throughout the country.

The Dallas Observer reports that it is “not actually clear if monitors will be placed in Texas, though it seems likely, given our state’s enthusiasm for voter ID laws.”

But if they are — Texas is apparently ready for them.

Via the Dallas Observer:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is threatening to bring criminal charges against European election observers who may be monitoring the general election process in Texas.

His always-entertaining Twitter feed suggests he would also be willing to throttle them with his bare hands. “UN poll watchers can’t interfere w/ Texas elections,” he tweeted yesterday. “I’ll bring criminal charges if needed. Official letter posted soon.” His hashtag added: #comeandtakeit. Delightful.

The AG’s letter with the following warning is now posted here:

The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.

And @GovernorPerry cheers:

No UN monitors/inspectors will be part of any TX election process; I commend @TXsecofstate for swift action to clarify issue.

Actually, these are not UN monitors; OSCE is an observer at UNGA and considers the UN its primary partner but is not the UN.

Now — are our Texas folks suggesting that in the very act of watching, the observers affect the observed reality? That these observers can affect these elections?  If true, that’s like foxtrot bizarre!  How did these election observers interfere in the last five elections they’ve observed in the United States?

Maybe that’s the October Surprise? Then maybe we can do recounts from all those five elections instead of suffering through Da Donald and Gloria’s hair show?

Meanwhile, over in Warsaw (Poland, not Indiana) Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed his grave concern over the threat of criminal prosecution of OSCE/ODIHR election observers and reportedly wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the following emphasis:

“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarčič said. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”

“Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way,” Lenarčič said. “They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.”

You think Ambassador Lenarčič is saying that unless you’re a quantum theorist, observe and interfere are two different things?

ODIHR is scheduled to release an interim report after the election and a formal report a couple of months after their observation mission.

In its latest update, ODIHR reports:

Some OSCE/ODIHR LEOM interlocutors stated that certain issues in administering elections stem from the fact that states cannot obligate the counties to follow some federal regulations. For example, some jurisdictions failed to send ballots to out-of-country voters 45 days before election day, as required by the Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act.7 The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), administered by the Department of Defense, reported to the OSCE/ODIHR LEOM that they are working with state election officials to introduce new state regulations that will require counties to adhere to all provisions of MOVE.

Political advertising continued being a major source for campaigning with large sums of money spent on TV advertisements. Independent organizations have been particularly active in political advertising and, in this respect, the impact of Super PACs and so-called Section 501(c)18 organizations on the outcome of primary and general elections is being questioned by OSCE/ODIHR LEOM interlocutors across the political spectrum. According to the data reported so far to the FEC, by mid-October, Super PACs have spent over USD 350 million in political advertising in the 2012 primary and general election cycle, while political parties have spent only USD 150 million. This excludes spending by 501(c) organizations, which are not reported to the FEC. The majority of election advertising in this election cycle placed on TV by candidates, parties, and independent groups has been negative.

Stop laughing over there.  So far, nothing there on Texas’ bright stars.  And no one has been hauled off as criminals for staring at voters casting their ballots. Well, not yet, anyways …

… for now just enjoy a photo of  US Ambassador Anne Patterson observing the polling station in Giza, Egypt in the 2011 elections.