Cuts cost isle
telecommuter her job

Wisconsin's governor trims funding
to pay the state official,
who had relocated here

MADISON, Wis. >> A state administrator who was telecommuting from Hawaii lost her job when Gov. Jim Doyle eliminated funding for the Waste Facility Siting Board.

Patti Cronin was paid $79,300 annually as director of the board. She helped the board broker agreements between landfill owners and local officials about where to locate controversial landfills or expansions.

Cronin said she had permission last summer from the board's chairman, Edward Fenhaus, to telecommute to Hawaii.

Minutes from a board meeting showed Cronin spent $25,000 to relocate to Hawaii. She bought a car, signed an apartment lease, furnished the apartment and paid nonrefundable tuition for her son to attend a private school in Hawaii, according to the minutes.

But at a meeting of the full siting board Sept. 12, her telecommuting request was rejected and she was ordered to return to Madison by Nov. 4.

The board allowed Cronin to used vacation time to remain in Hawaii until the deadline, said John Rothschild, chief attorney for the state Department of Administration.

Doyle vetoed $214,000 from the 2003-05 state budget that funded the Siting Board, including Cronin's salary.

"Basically, the governor vetoed the appropriation because the workload for the position just didn't justify the expenditure," said Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow.

The job Cronin held for 19 years officially ended Aug. 15. Her duties will be picked up by the Division of Hearing and Appeals, said David Schwarz, the division's administrator.

The money saved from Cronin's salary will be put in the state's general fund, Leistikow said.

While Hawaii may sound like a travel destination, Cronin said she needed to make the move for personal reasons. She had lived in Hawaii while attending law school and "on and off for 20 years," she said.

"There were some family problems, and because I had lived there and had some friends there, it seemed like a normal place for me to go," Cronin said.


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