Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pack the board

The three Luzerne County Commissioners and the county controller sit on the salary board with row officers and the president judge having a fifth vote on the Salary Board for matters concerning their offices.

TL: But county officials have changed the rules in recent months by allowing department heads to cast a fifth vote.

I read the papers every day and didn't notice when that happened. Controller-elect Walter Griffith is being cautious before he blasts this change in procedure wanting to make sure he is on firm legal ground. County Solicitor Vito DeLuca said he recommended that department heads be allowed to vote based on his interpretation of the state County Code. I didn't know that the county solicitor could change the law. The TL story doesn't have any comment from Maryanne Petrilla or Greg Skrepenak. Steve Urban said he does not believe department heads have legal authority to vote.

In other county news Luzerne County government will receive $18.2 million in borrowed funds this week, even though the county was unable to secure bond insurance...Financial Security Assurance Inc., the primary insurer of government bonds, had expressed concerns about insuring the deal. Specifically, FSA wanted a guarantee in writing that the county won’t continue borrowing and refinancing to cover deficit spending.

Isn't this great, Luzerne County is now floating the equivalent of Junk Bonds.

15 comments:

Wil Toole said...

Section 1625 of the Third Class County Code is very clear as to the authority of the County Officers (Row Office) or Agency Heads shall become members of the Salary Board on matters pertaining to their Department or Agency. In the case of the court system, either the President Judge or the judge whose staff is affected shall sit on the Salary Board during issues pertaining to their offices. Why there is a question now or ever is pure politics and a power move. The County Code is clear and not subject to interpretation.

Walter Griffith said...

Mr Toole,
Lets cite the law correctly shall we,

The County Code states: Except as herein otherwise provided,whenever the board shall consider the number or salaries of the deputies or other employes of any county officer or AGENCY, such officer or the EXECUTIVE HEAD of such AGENCY shall sit as a member of the salary board as long as any matter affecting his office or agency is under consideration and no longer.
The question here is what is the law referring to as the AGENCY..this is not to be interpeted as the commissioners see fit for their own use, but should be decided as a legal opinion that needs o be clarified so that the salary board is not comprised of people that are "At Will" employes that have to vote with the Majority in order to maintain their own jobs.
The interpetation would be clear that the statement in fact means the "Department Officer" which would be a Row Officer Only or an Agency, which the County employes people, not a Department Head.
The County needs to get away from the issue of hiring their political friends and this is another example of how the Salary Board is allowed to "Skirt the interpetation of the law" in orrder to get this done and the County Solicitor, which by the way is hired by, you guessed it, the Commissioners, uses him as their spokesmen to say what the commissioners feel is correct not what the law states much like the case with the President Judge that I held them accountable for in the past. The law was clear there and there is absolutely no language in the law that states as well but the commissioner majority
decided to not follow the law. Thats the reason why I will have my solicitor research it and render an opinion.,This is not a political move or a power play as you stated but a very important issue to help with control of the very thing the taxpayers want to stop in government and thats Nepotisum and Cronyisum by the people in governemnt that have the ability to interpet the law for their own benefit.

Anonymous said...

is it possible not to hash this shit out on a fucking blog. is this what we can expect from junior. bullshit bantering on a blog? i am already sorry i voted for him and he didn't even take the seat.

McGruff said...

From the County Code http://www.newpa.com/get-local-gov-support/local-government-law-library/download.aspx?id=1143 Section 1622.

Salary Boards Created.--There is hereby created in each county a salary board, which shall consist of the three individual members of the board of county commissioners and the county controller in counties where there is a controller, or the county treasurer in counties where there is no controller. The chairman of the board of county commissioners shall be chairman of the salary board. The board shall meet and organize on the first Monday of January of each year.

Section 1625. Procedure and Action of Board.--(a) Except as
herein otherwise provided, whenever the board shall consider thenumber or salaries of the deputies or other employes of any
county officer or agency, such officer or the executive head of
such agency shall sit as a member of the board, as long as any
matter affecting his office or agency is under consideration and
no longer.

(b) Whenever the board shall consider the number or salaries
of the court criers or tipstaves or other court employes, the
president judge of the court shall sit as a member of the board,
as long as any matter affecting the court criers, tipstaves or
employes of his court is under consideration and no longer.
(c) Whenever the board shall consider the number or salaries
of the officers or employes appointed by any judge of any court,
such judge shall sit as a member of the board, as long as any
matter affecting any of his appointees is under consideration
and no longer.
(d) The decision of a majority shall govern. Each board
shall keep a correct minute book of its proceedings in all cases
heard and determined by it. Such minute book shall be a public
record

It appears that the Salary Board will include the president judge, department head or row officer when considering the number of employees and/or the salaries of the employees of that department except where a bargaining unit acts on behalf of a group of employees.

However, it appears that the department head of an agency or a row officer will not sit on the board when his or her own salary is for consideration.

Anonymous said...

Walter, First of all, what i just read by Toole seemed logical and sounded ok to me. He didn't go after you so a word of advice young man, you might want to consider if attacking Wil Toole unprovoked and publicly is a good idea. Especially when your retort is worded in such a way that only you know what you mean. Quote, "The law was clear there and there is absolutely no language in the law that states as well but the commissioner majority
decided to not follow the law. That's the reason why I will have my solicitor research it and render an opinion.," WTF?

Anonymous said...

Walter, At 9 O'clock in the morning, shouldn't you be working on somebody's car? You're at public meetings during the week and your on the computer during the work day; hell, I'm now wondering if you have a work ethic or were you just looking for an easy job? Now you have me worried that we picked the wrong man for the job. Patting yourself on the back and sitting in front of a blog is not my idea of a watchdog unless the watchdog's job is to waste the day playing war or word tag on your computer.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:47 You make a good point, when does Walter work? Morgan and Toole should have asked Walter to make his IRS records public when he said it isn't about the money because he earns twice the Controller's salary. So he is earning 75 grand working part time? I think we bought a pig in a poke!

DAN FROM DALLAS said...

WALTER IS AN IDIOT. THAT'S WHY I VOTED FOR HIM. IN 4 YEARS, HE'LL BE GONE AND WE WON'T HAVE TO HEAR FROM HIM AGAIN. IF HE LOST THE ELECTION, WE'D HAVE TO LISTEN TO HIM UNTIL AND THROUGH THE NEXT 15 ELECTION CYCLES. THIS IS OUR CHANCE TO FINALLY GET RID OF HIM.

Austin said...

Hmm, it is great to hear the arguments against watching how your government spends your money.

I think this kind of discussion is very important for an involved and informed electorate. So I guess you guys can start blasting me next.

If you don't want to see an analysis of local public policy, why are you on a blog about local politics?

Mr. Toole, Mr Griffith, McGruff: you guys do some great work in very different ways. Please keep it up.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Austin, I think you missed the point. I don't think the postings are against watching tax dollars, I think they were very pointed against hypocrisy. Did we get a true Controller or just a slogan man who will act more as an obstructionist. Griffith has already broken a campaign promise by not resigning from the Study Commission Board. He is by his own admission in a conflict of interest but it appears that in his mind, anything he does is OK, it's the other guy that needs watching. Bullshit! Another thing, this was a study commission and Griffith has said publically that he plans to vote to change goverment so why law and say you are going to study it when your mind is made up. Like I said, hypocrisy and he isn't evern in office yet.

Austin said...

Well Mr. Griffith did say it isn't a conflict of interest at the candidate forum but that he would resign from the GSC anyway.

Has he said he wont now?

Nobody was making that point. These are more character attacking posts from people who cannot take the time to formulate and argument. They reduce the level of discussion and hinder productive debate.

Anonymous said...

Walter you keep up the good work!!! It's apparent, especially on this blog that the members of the good ole boys club, which there seems to be a quite a few that read and write on this blog, are ticked off that they will finally have a watchdog like you and they won't be able to get their friends and relations jobs in order to promote themselves. This is exactly what the county needs. To you good ole boys...lets not forget already what happened when the entire county government was related and connected. It's far from over and I hope all of you are out of there sooner than later!!! It's just a matter of time for all you corrupt, self serving, greedy creeps get what you deserve. What goes around, comes around. You sound like a bunch of spoiled children, having a tantrum because you can't get what you want. Well get used to it, game over down there in the snake pit!!!!!!!!!! Good going Walter, congrats and us few honest workers there can't wait for you to take office. Sincerely,KARMA

Anonymous said...

Funny how anyone who disagrees is painted as some kind of radical or good old boy. The fact is that Walter has become involved in his press and think that he can do no wrong. He does have a conflict of interest because he will be voting on the future of his own job, that of Controller. If you don't see that as a conflict, then you're wearing blinders. I understand that the committee itself is upset with his stance that he will stay till the end of the year and cast his vote. I hope they file a complain with the ethics commission and give him a dose of reality. 65% of the voters didn't vote at all and less than half of those who did vote did not vote for Walter. So he is not serving with a mandate but he is serving and must do so with the same critical eye for himself that he uses for others. If it appears to be improper, that's good enough! I am beginning to agree with some of the things that have been said in recent weeks. Walter is beginning to look like a control freak and one Petrilla is enough. And let me add this. I don't believe for one second that he has not already chosen his solicitor. I think that when Atty Stretton made his public endorsement of Walter, that sealed the deal. Atty. Stretton will be working for Walter and this BS of being on a search is just that, BS. So within 10 days of his election, Walter has broken two campaign promises. You can add the fact that he said they were going to study our form of county government but before the study is completed, he has let it be known that he will vote to change the format. That's very close to 3 strikes but I'll give him pass on that because we all knew how he was going to vote anyway. It is just his BS of being on a search that rubs me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Wah wah wah. He doesn't have to resign, but said he would. Maybe he should be corrupt like the rest of the officials down in the corrupthouse, that what you people seem to like. Walter show them how it's done. These people are over their heads and don't have a clue. The proof is yet to come.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me that Walter is already taking the low road. He wants to stay on the Commission so he will have a vote on determining if his job is elected or appointed. If it is appointed, he doesn't have a prayer but if it remains elected, all he has to do is sit and point fingers and the same no brains that voted for him will have another chance to enhance their mistake. wah wah wah stupid!