Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Luzerne County Home Rule

The Luzerne County Government Study Commission has been busy writing a new charter for county government since being elected last fall. They have adhered to a tight schedule with the goal of putting a plan on the ballot this November even working through a major snowstorm when some members couldn't make it to the meeting.

I was a big proponent of the last plan that called for an elected county executive and a 9 member council with 6 positions elected by district and 3 at-large. It met the goal of separating the legislative and executive functions of the present 3 Commissioner system plus it got rid of electing row officers.

I have some reservations about what they are cooking up this time. My biggest objection is not having an elected but appointed county manager. I don't like having a "Mayor of the County"that is not accountable to the voters. If they think that politics won't be a factor in hiring a county manager I have a bridge in Alaska that I would like to sell you.

An 11 member council elected at-large I can live with but I would prefer to see less members. And they won't have offices or clerks is a worry. Eleven part time people with outside interests will need a staff to keep tabs on things.

The part I like is that the coroner, register of wills, recorder of deeds, treasurer and sheriff would all be hired based on qualifications not elected. These are management/clerk positions with no policy responsibility. After all there is no Republican or Democratic way to perform an autopsy or register a will. Right now the row officers are not accountable to anyone so when nonsense like what has been going on in the sheriff's office or a row officer is spotted selling used cars on company time they can't be disciplined or fired if the infraction is serious enough.

Study commission members Rick Heffron said everything the commission has done so far can be changed.

I will await the final product before deciding whether or not I will support it.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with you here Gort, the Sheriff should be an elected position.

Anonymous said...

Really, the Sheriif has no power, in PA, Only the DA is elected because that is State law(maybe even the State constitution).