Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walter has some questions

This is guest post from Republican Luzerne County Controller candidate Walter Griffith.
This week I attended the Luzerne County Commissioner meetings which included the County Prison Board Meeting, Work Session and the Commissioner meeting .

The Public comment portion of the meetings I was allowed to address some issues at the Prison Board meeting and I asked about the Deputy Warden Sam Hyder issue regarding his taking vacation and not placing the time in the record for the payroll department and what if anything the County Prison Board was planning to do about this constant ability of our County Employees to take advantage of the taxpayers of this County. I was told they cant discuss it because it was a Personnel issue, but the question still remains as to why the Deputy Warden is still allowed to be on the payroll at all because of his constant and never ending ability to defraud the taxpayers of this County.

The Commissioner Meeting was then held on Wednesday and there was an issue regarding the termination of Veterans Director Richard Wren and 4 people spoke to his ability to be a fantastic Director and the fact that he has made a mistake and should be given a reprimand but not as severe as termination and this was ignored by two of the Commissioners and Mr Wren was terminated without a question or discussion.

My question and confusion here with this situation is a simple one, if the people that have abused the taxpayers by using the debit cards illegally were not terminated, and there was clearly plenty of evidence that they abused their power, then why was Richard Wren terminated without the ability to repay his mistake as well ?

What was different with this incident that was not the case with Mr Sam Hyder and James Blaum and the others ? What was it that made the crime that Richard Wren did to the taxpayers less offensive than that of the "Magnificent Seven" with the debit card debacle.

I think Mr Wren deserves proper reprimand and discipline but is termination of a Director of Veterans Affairs for a $70.00 infraction the proper punishment and what about the thousands of dollars that were taken by the "Magnificent Seven" and they were all allowed to keep their positions, and some were even rewarded with promotions.

The County Commissioners need to rethink their personnel policies and start looking at doing the right thing instead of the politically correct things for themselves.

Walter L Griffith Jr.
Luzerne County Controller Candidate


Austin said...

I interned at LC Veteran Affairs and worked closely with Richard Wren. He has done some terrific things to expand the services they provide.

He has also cut waste by keeping much closer watch on county funds. He has certainly used his position to advocate for local veterans.

In just a few years they increased the total amount of pensions in this county from less 500k to several million dollars.

He went out and gave presentations about how they can help file for pensions or medical reimbursements for vets.

He encouraged myself and others to volunteer our time both at VA and at Veterans' MultiCare Alliance, a non profit.

Thanks to him alone processing death benefits for veterans takes that office a few hours less than it did at the end of 07.

Did you know they were using type writers to do that job? Only type writers too!

Now what they used to type up 7 different forms for they now accomplish with 2. Probably one by now.

Vivian was another volunteer there. She worked 2 days a week handling the flag distribution for veteran graves with local VFWs and American Legions. She said Rick was so helpful with her case that she felt compelled to give back.

On any given day I was in the office there would be 2-4 volunteers or people being compensated through other programs.

Of course despite all this success, efficiency and piles of thank you letters, the budget for LC Veteran Affairs was cut and one of their positions eliminated.

Everyone is pointing out the hypocrisy but I hope they realize that we need a new system of government. That throwing out the bums will just created a power vacuum that supplies us with more bums.

Walter I hope your Government Study Commission separates the powers and creates checks and balances.

I hope more people become involved with the process.

Walter Griffith Jr said...

I believe that the wrong people in government is the problem, sometimes, and to change the government is sometimes not as good as changing the people in the present government. I believe that some people in government lose site of why they were elected and whom they serve and that is the real problem that I see in Government. I will represent the people and do the hard work to protect our tax dollars when I am elected to County Controller.

Anonymous said...

I think Walter had better pick his horse and ride it. Does he want to change government or not? Is his intention as a member of Home Rule Study Commission to retain the current form of government or to seek out good candidates? Is he beginning to understand that it isn't the system that is corrupted and inept, it is the do-gooders that talk a good campaign but have no substance? The people have to choose candidates that will actually do the job but who the hell has the crystal ball?

Anonymous said...

Come on Walter, be a little original. It has been in the papers that Hyder's time is being investigated so you go to a meeting demanding that they find out what's going on. Do we look so dumb that you think you can get on that train a week after it left the station and then claim to have had something to do with it? Be a little original and find an issue that has not made headlines and make your own headlines. This I -I - I stuff is getting to be old hate, especially when there is no substance. If you want my vote, earn it. I have never been a fan of Johnny Come Lately types.

Walter Griffith said...

Dear Anon 9:19
I want to change government that’s why I ran for the Study Commission. I also want to do what is best for the residents of Luzerne County, and that’s why I am going to wait until the study is complete before I state my opinion on the form of government. I understand that people in government are not perfect and neither is the State County Code , of which I have read and use in my study of the current form of government. I am not asking for someone to have a crystal ball in choosing a candidate but I have demonstrated time and again that I will at least do the research and consulting of outside people before I make a decision that will hurt someone that is doing a good job like Mr. Wren. The County Commissioners have a Personnel Policy and they don’t enforce it and people need to hold their elected officials accountable no matter what form of government. The current form of government is not working for the residents of Luzerne County and Home Rule is the way to change this government and make our government work for us, however I don’t believe a bigger government, which will cost the residents more taxes, is good either, so let’s see what the study reveals and then we can decide where change is appropriate.

Austin said...

The biggest thing I would like to see come out of the GSC would be the separation of legislative and executive powers.

Some old fashion checks and balances. With a budget of over $129 million I feel that an effective increase in oversight will much more than pay for itself.

I know there are not many counties that have gone home rule in PA. Do you know how they do it in other states? Are the commissioners as powerful as they are here?

BTW I have never posted anonymously on here.


Anonymous said...

Austin, do you really believe that posting under the name Austin is any less anonymous than signing a post Jack, or Bob or any other first name (assuming Austin is a first name). By the way, What legislative actions taken by the commissioners do you find the most fault with? Not being an expert on county government, all I see is them doing administrative chores. What am I missing?

But let me address Walter Griffith's remarks. He obviously thinks that changing the form of county government will make a difference but he says he is against a larger government. What could be simpler or smaller than a 3 commissioner form with one of them being a mandated minority? Has Walter's self image gotten to the point where he feels qualified to write a new form of government based on a book he carries around? What ever happened to the good old saying, "Vote the bum out"? Maybe having a Czar is in the plan? I've heard that Petrilla's reason for her slash and burn form of management is to become the voter's darling and then become the County Executive. God forbid! Honestly Walter, your not sending a clear message as to what it is you want in the form of government. I find it hard to believe that you don't have a thought or opinion on the form of government that would change things. Come on now, give us a little of that transparency you speak of.

Austin said...

I was saying that I do not post anonymously because I did not want Walter or anyone else to think that is me talking about them like that.

Yes I do believe that using my real name to post under is a bit less anonymous. For a while I was posting under my full name which is Austin Smith Ford.

I am no expert on county government either. I have read a good deal of the county code and in fact if anybody knows where it is online I saw it once but I can't find it again.

Anyway, my beef is that they can come up with new codes and enact them. Basically they are the legislators and the executives.

One example of a better situation would be the proposal that was defeated in 03. They created an executive and a board of commissioners.

They were going to pay the commissioners very little I think it was like 13k a year.

I think they were going to have some or all of them be from different regions of the county and have the exec be voted on at large.

The authority to adapt our own system of government was granted by the PA legislation that governs counties.

Anonymous said...

I just jumped into this but it really has my attention. Austin, do you think that there is even the slightest possibility that a group of 11 or 13 are capable of reaching a decision? And having just 1 person rule the roost?
B-A-D !!!!! Will that person be King or Queen? So next we have electing people by district rather than at large. So if there are 11 elected from districts, any 6 can tell the other 5 to go whistle. If we don't like the people from the other Districts, we can't vote for or against them. Kinda like Congress; everybody wants to vote Congress out of office but not their Congressman. How would we as a people control government? Do you really think this is a better control on government than the simple form of 2 majority and 1 minority? Maybe your right, maybe we should complicate the hell out of government and then we can hire more consultants and lawyers to straighten things out. Somebody please wake me when its over.

Austin said...

Actually as I wrote I am for electing commissioners at large. I do not want a board of 11 or 13 and the executive that was described by the 03 proposal is a lot less powerful than the current three commissioners combined.

Anonymous said...

Luzerne County's form of government will not have the one once of hope as long as good people don't get involved. Why won't people get involved? Just look at some of the posts in this one article. A few people are filled with poison and spew it constantly. They say terrible things about people as they bend and twist the truth till it is almost unrecognizable. I would love to have these same anonymous posters just once show the courage to post their real names as well as a short bio of their lives. What have they done or accomplished? Personally I don't care if they are truck drivers earning an honest living or failed businessmen; show me what they have done for their fellow man other than beat people into the ground. They have no shame and they certainly do not have the best interest of their fellow humans in mind or thy would use their energy for something worthwhile. How can we get good government when good people don't want to be involved because of these types of fools. What part of their personal lives can they brag about? Having a three Commissioner with one minority is a simple and workable form of government. Our problem is in getting three who are capable of governing without a personal agenda. I just can be convinced that if we can't get 3 good people, how can we hope to get 7, 9, or 11? We can certainly consolidate some Row offices but for what we pay county officials, have the individual officers are a bargain. If we combine them, we will have to double the salaries and still have no guarantee we get what we pay for. This is not easy except for those who don't understand the complexity of it all.

Austin said...

If you have a deeper understanding of the complexity of it all I do invite you to share it.

Again, I am not advocating adding more people. I am advocating for the separation of administrative and policy making authority because it worked out pretty well for Madison.

"We can certainly consolidate some Row offices but for what we pay county officials, have the individual officers are a bargain"

The way we would save money in the consolidation of the Row offices is by the consolidation of the staff.

If you mean to say half the Row officers are a bargain, I would respond that people do not seek Row offices for the salaries.

As for your claim that the current government is workable I would sincerely appreciate an elaboration.

What specifically is working in this county that is due to the current system of county government?

I mean this sincerely.