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Orange County

Rackauckas Rival Still Fighting for Job

Following arbitrator's ruling, Wally Wade will get office space, but not reinstatement as a prosecutor.

August 17, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

Nearly three weeks after he lost the case in arbitration, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has not given up his effort to get rid of a deputy prosecutor who ran against him in the last two elections.

Rackauckas will follow an arbitrator's order and allow Wally Wade to have an office at the district attorney's headquarters but will not give him his job back as a deputy district attorney, the county informed Wade in a letter last week.

Instead, Rackauckas wants Wade to become the only employee of the county Department of Child Support Services to work half a mile away in the district attorney's 10-story building in downtown Santa Ana.

Wade said he intends to appeal the decision.

The controversy started the day after Rackauckas defeated Wade in March 2002, when Rackauckas transferred his opponent and several of Wade's supporters to the child support collection unit.

A few months later, that unit became a separate agency with no ties to the district attorney's office.

Wade took the matter to arbitration and was ordered reinstated last month. An arbitrator noted that because Wade was an officer in the prosecutors union, he could not be transferred against his wishes. Wade said he thought the matter was resolved and was prepared to return to his prosecutor's job.

Rackauckas viewed things differently. The arbitrator's ruling noted that Wade should be returned to his former job site in the district attorney's office, but did not specifically say that he should get back his former job as a senior deputy district attorney. So Rackauckas will give Wade space in the district attorney's building but won't let him work as a deputy district attorney.

"Relocating Wade to the [district attorney's building] is consistent with the arbitrator's award and, in fact, such a result is the maximum authority that the arbitrator had in this matter," attorney Kevin Dale, who represented Rackauckas in the grievance hearing, said in a letter to Wade's counsel.

Rackauckas declined to discuss the case.

The move is "absurd and petty," Wade said, because it would leave him several blocks from the child support office, his superiors, colleagues and the case files he needs to do that job. If Rackauckas' plan is approved by the arbitrator, Wade would become the lone representative of a different agency in a building filled with hundreds of district attorney's employees.

"I believe the arbitrator's intent was to put me back not only in that location but in the position with the rights I had before," Wade said. "It's completely impractical to expect that somebody could work family support cases out of the district attorney's office when the building is over there on Main Street."

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