The state railroad commissioner has abruptly resigned from his position in Governor Scott Walker’s administration. Jeff Plale’s departure comes shortly after he raised doubts about an example being used by Republicans to justify possible changes to Wisconsin’s civil service system.
Walker’s office said Plale’s resignation took effect Monday. The former Democratic state lawmaker had served in the position oversees state railroad operations and safety issues since 2011.
Plale’s resignation comes on the heels of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report from December, in which he described the handling of two of his employees who were accused of having a sexual relationship on state property for several months. Republicans had argued the two could not be fired because of state civil service protections, but it was later found that one was actually an at-will employee. Plale only issued letters of reprimand to both workers.
Plale could not be reached for comment and the governor’s office did not provide a reason for his resignation.
Walker has appointed Yash Wadhwa to take over as the new commissioner. A release from governor’s office describes Wadhwa as having “44 years of consulting experience in numerous engineering fields including civil, environmental, and transportation engineering. He has worked on infrastructure projects for various municipalities in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area. In addition, Wadhwa has served as a board member for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and President of the Wisconsin Association of Consulting Engineers, as well as the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers. ”
Wadhwa’s appointment is effective January 11, although it does require Senate confirmation.