Oops, he did it again! Gov. Bob Holden finds himself in more hot water following last week's controversial and mysterious meeting in St. Louis involving prominent labor leaders. The meeting was apparently called by Holden to discuss the union support of presidential candidate Howard Dean over Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt. Holden is a former Gephardt employee and current supporter.
But also present at the meeting - and apparently the one in charge - was Joyce Aboussie, Gephardt's campaign mastermind. Aboussie, according to the labor representatives, threatened that she would seek a reversal of Holden's executive order in June 2001 that granted collective bargaining rights for about 30,000 Missouri state employees. Aboussie denied she made such a threat.
But on Monday, a legislative panel began discussions on how to block Holden's executive order that had been rejected several times in the past by the Missouri Legislature. The GOP-led meeting Monday generated momentum following the Holden-Aboussie flap. We'll have to wait and see where this issue goes. But one thing is certain - this issue is yet another bullet that the Republicans - and some Democrats - will use when Holden seeks re-election.
Bob Holden is a fine person but a miserable leader. The union gathering in St. Louis was a prime example. Though he apparently organized the meeting, Holden was clearly not in charge. He sat there and allowed a Gephardt campaign whiz to speak on his behalf and threaten the union representatives for their support of Howard Dean. When the air had cleared it was once again Bob Holden who was left with mud on his face. That's becoming an increasingly familiar sight.
Holden's executive order effectively forces thousands of state employees with withholding fees to unions even though some of those employees have no interest in joining the union. This issue has floated around Jefferson City for years but has never gained approval. So Holden - in a blatant payback to his union supporters - surprised everyone by issuing the executive order. Now that issue will return to haunt him.
Joyce Aboussie is a power broker in the Democratic ranks like none other. But for her to threaten a reversal of Holden's order seems a bit over the top even for this out-spoken political machine. All sides are now trying to keep quiet and maintain unity but the cat is out of the bag. And Holden is left holding that bag.
I doubt Holden will make it out of the Democratic primary in nine months. But if he should, he'll spend the remaining time explaining a host of snafus while in office. I seriously doubt the Governor is up to the task.