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From the “Nice Work If You Can Get It” department

Chuck Rosenthal may be gone, but his memory lingers ever still.

Chuck Rosenthal resigned 10 days ago as Harris County district attorney amid a scandal over e-mail, accused of sending and receiving racist, sexist and political messages and deleting others sought in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

But he still is on the public payroll.

Rosenthal, who stepped down Feb. 15 under threat of legal removal from office, will continue to receive his $160,000 annual salary, according to county officials, because the state constitution technically keeps him in office until a successor is sworn in.

Rosenthal, 62, will remain on the payroll until Gov. Rick Perry appoints an interim replacement — or the disgraced former prosecutor submits his retirement papers, according to a memorandum obtained by the Houston Chronicle under the Texas Public Information Act.

“Yes, a replacement must be appointed, and she/he must qualify for office by taking the oath of office and posting a bond,” John Barnhill, First Assistant County Attorney, wrote last week to the county’s payroll director, Richard Foisner. “Then Mr. Rosenthal is out and his pay ends.”

County officials said today that Rosenthal has not yet retired. He was last paid on Thursday, for a work period that ended the day he resigned.

I’m thinking that ol’ Chuck is in no hurry to fill out the paperwork. And frankly, why should be be? What are they going to do to him if he’s pokey about it? Nope, this one’s on Governor Perry. He can put an official end to Rosenthal’s employment. It’s not a matter of fiscal discipline, as I assume the replacement DA will be paid the same, but it is a matter of not paying someone who’s quit his job and really should be off the payroll by now. Seems pretty straightforward to me. What say you, Governor?

UPDATE: Matt Stiles has an interesting update to the question about when Rosenthal’s pay should terminate.

I’ve since learned that the Texas Attorney General’s Office, however, disagrees [with Barnhill]. A deputy there wrote the County Attorney’s Office last week, saying the county “cannot continue” paying Rosenthal. The letter [PDF] doesn’t, however, state why the constitutional provision doesn’t apply.

Curiouser and curiouser…

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