Friday, October 28, 2005

What the hell is a Prothonotary?

The title Prothonotary means first officer. As the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas Civil Division, under the supervision of the judges of this court, the Prothonotary generally has the power to sign and affix the seal of the court to all writs and processes, and, also to the exemplification of all records and process.

And why is it an elected position? It's an administrative post with no policy making powers. We have many elective offices that are clerical in nature, this is one of them. I doubt if many people know what the Prothonotary, Register of Wills or Clerk of Courts even do. I even saw a TV ad for some guy that is running for Tax Collector someplace. His name was Charlie Spano and the ad didn't even tell you what district he is running in.

All these positions probably require someone with good organizational skills and maybe in the past it was important to have elections for them. Today I think we have too many jobs up for election and it becomes confusing. These jobs should be filled with people with strong managerial backgrounds and they should be hired by the elected officials who have policy resposibilties. In short, an administration. We had that chance a few years ago when a new county charter was proposed, but it failed.

So we are stuck with another election for offices we don't know a lot about. But at least there are some fireworks in one of them. Some choice quotes in the Prothonotay race.

From the Times-Leader:

During a interview Thursday with the Times Leader editorial board that, Medico Olenginski, a Republican who lost re-election four years ago, said:

-Revenue is down while filings in the office are up.
-The office's new computer software program isn't working well.
-Prothonotary Jill Moran is rarely in the office.
-Some checks are taking too long to cash and process.

Moran fire back:

Moran insists the computer system was a wise choice.

"Mrs. Olenginski hasn't been in the office since I took office, so how would she have personal knowledge about the computer? I'd be interested in having an intelligent conversation with her because she doesn't know what it does or how it works. "We went live March 1. No data was lost. That is just an absolute lie. I'll call it what it is because it's an absolute lie."

And Carolee let's her have it:

Medico Olenginski said many people have reported to her that Moran is rarely in the courthouse office, and Medico Olenginski doesn't buy Moran's excuse that she's often working out of the Hazleton office. Medico Olenginski said she would be a full-time prothonotary as she was before because of her strong "work ethic."

Moran said she is in the office "as much as I need to be."

If we are going to have elections for these obscure offices at least we get some entertainment.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

my friend called me the other day asking about what a prothonotary does. He was in hazleton and had been seeing lots of signage for Moran. I suspected at first that someone had made up a position simply to get elected to it, thanks for clearing that up.